Viral style: Why are we obsessed?

Viral style: Why are we obsessed?
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attend the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.

It happened with Serial. It happened with Girls. It happened with #TheDress. Whether it's tulips or the Kardashians, throughout history we have loved whipping ourselves into a state of frenzied obsession - and now the internet allows this collective fervour to exist on an unprecedented scale. Within hours, days or a few weeks, something you'd never heard about has become omnipresent, worshiped, critiqued, exalted, scrutinised. Your Twitter feed is full of people raving about it or slating it. Every website has a handful of think-pieces on it. Your friends are enthralled, and so is everyone in the office.

If the internet's default mode is obsession, this mind-set is impacting how we shop and how we dress, says Vanessa Spence, design director at Asos.

"The growth of bloggers, vloggers and Instagram means that everything in fashion is becoming faster" says Spence, who estimates the online retailer unleashes between 3,000 and 4,000 new products onto the site every week. "And customer awareness to new trends in getting faster".

The old system of biannual fashion seasons has blurred into a perpetual stream of newness. In this brave new world, shoppers are constantly on the lookout for that next binge experience and an Instagram post can make an item go viral overnight. In recent months fashion fixations have included Beyonce's Kale sweatshirt, Adidas' Stan Smith trainers, Birkenstocks, Kenzo tiger sweatshirts, Moschino fast food phone covers - and just about every outfit worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.

At a certain point, for those following a handful of fashion-centric social media accounts, frenzy surrounding these beloved items has achieved the same level of inescapability as of a photo of Kim Kardashian's rear.

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