Granted, one may flock home to review the latest flicks from famed streetstyle photographers moreso to see if you were photographed - in the likes of Jak & Jil, Streetpeeper and the Satorialist - yet, when the fashion week events are all said and done, and there's no one to pose for on the streets of New York, Milan and Paris, where is one to turn?
In the world where prententious intentions and poses don't exist and where people use their creativity to please themselves and network with a community of similar tastes, comes Lookbook.nu.
Lookbook, a social media site - think facebook meets Tommy Ton - made for international invite-only users, was launched by Orange County native, Yuri Lee. Yuri, now a San Francisco resident, was a Art History major - who admired bloggers like Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes and Scott Schuman of The Satorialist - wanted to create a community for patrons who had a fashion for passion, who didn't neccessarily have or need the opportunities to be photographed by others to be recognized.
The sometimes lady-like sometimes tomboy creator launched the 3-year old site with her boyfriend in April if 2007, which now hosts over 80,000 members worldwide. Members who photograph themselves expressing their creativity of self-styling, ultimately creating a lookbook of their fashion personalities.
We recently had a quick chat with Yuri, and had the opportunity to hear about her Lady Gaga obsession, her devotion to her members and where she wants to take Lookbook.
Lookbook, being a fashion driven site, may instanly strike as being odd when related to your Art History background. Most would expect you to vouch for Picasso over Pucci. Can you explain this a little?
Yuri: Um, I would say it's [fashion] always been a large part of my life. I'm a girl afterall. You know, I've always dressed up in my mom's clothes when I was younger. I would say more or less art has been a large part of my life. I went to a art high school, so creative energy has always been around me. It's very easy to transition it into a fashion business. During the time that I launched Lookbook, I was way into the Satorialist and other amazing fashion bloggers. I just thought, 'why do we have to wait for somebody to go out and take our picture?' We can create a community of people who share these looks - there's so many other people out there that love fashion. Why not bring them together?
The site, being invite only, could easily spark a buzz - with intentions to land great press through fashion influencers and affiliates alike - as many would agree there are plenty of 'fashion things' that are invite only. Do you view things differently? Let's say if only to respect creativity over exclusiveness?
Yuri: Well, it does make being on Lookbook more desirable [being invite only], but the idea behind is that we want to create and preserve this community of people that love fashion. We don't want anybody to come on and kind of daddle around and waste space by not being serious. Because, these users take fashion seriously, so it's a huge part of their lives and we want to respect that. I know fashion week is so exclusive, but I don't think we're as exclusive as that. Even if you're a member you can invite friends to join. Once you're on, it's you responsibility to make sure you're sending an invite out to somebody that you know will benefit Lookbook, and Lookbook will benefit them.
With Lookbook being 70 percent girls and 30 percent males, it may be hard to manage such requests, but a task so big seems to come easily to you. We know that you value your demographic - with high traffic from the UK and Malaysia - sparing moments to interact and meet a few of your members. Can you give us some examples of favorite looks from some members? Maybe describe your relationships with users?
(struggling for an answer, recalling somethin special from them all).
Yuri: It's definitely an experience, because I really look up to them. And, when I see their photos online and the way they look, it's all very carefully placed and I build up this idea of the person - and, when I meet them in real-life, it's like, "oh, they're just another person and they love fashion." They have all of these interests and it makes them more down to earth. I feel like being a part of such a large community - it's hard to continue these one-on-one relationships, but once I do it's so rewarding. I get to learn a little bit more about their personal lives.
In a community where users support each other, by voting who has the best look of the month, you manages affiliations with various advertisers and fashion labels. Lookbook offers sporadic contest to users - the latest, a modeling campaign with American Apparel or a shoe design with Jeffrey Campbell - as benefits for being apart of the site. Can you explain how the company grows with these contests and what else comes from them?
Yuri: Within the next year, I can't say much, but we're having some really amazing partnerships. It's definitely global - so, that is something fun to look out for. We have some really cool contests lined up, which is a feature we just launched a couple months ago. Actually, our first contest was to design a shoe with Jeffrey Campbell - and for the winners the shoe will be sold online - I just saw the designs yesterday, and they're fantastic. The really exciting thing is - well, my best interest is to make everybody happy - we're really trying to make these [contests] fun and innovative things for our users to do. I see so many contests where users just win, blah. But, we really want to try to make it special - it's cool that we have designers that are excited about Lookbook too.
So we're aware of your obsession with Japanese designers, and your obsession, yet depression, with Yohji Yamamoto and his financial crisis. You spend a lot of time with your boyfriend, who you moved to San Francisco with. We understand that he left his job as an engineer to manage upir site - which soon lead him into a twisted love affair with fashion, even couture. [Sidenote: He's wearing Rick Owens and Comme Des Garcon now]. Would you consider yourself a style-maven - with your success thus far?
Yuri: I really like Lady Gaga. She's very open minded. She's a wonderful person and she has a lot of controversary around her and she doesn't let up on who she is. It wouldn't be Lady Gaga if she didn't put herself out there. Remember when she was on the Ellen Show and she had that weird globe thing going on around her head? Like, she's so funny and I think she's fantastic. I'd have to deny the style-maven title though. I'm just grateful to those who have influenced me.
So your admiration of Lady Gaga's style is evident. What about your bloggers and the impact that they've made on the fashion industry?
Yuri: think they're fantastic. It's very hard to maintain a good blog with quality posts. I think they're playing a very influential role within the fashion industry lately. They're kind of bringing fashion more to [real] people, instead of people just going to fashion week. I love Sea of Shoes, Jane Aldridge, of course. Isn't she fantastic? Her family is really fascinating, because her mother has a good blog too. But, also I think Tavi is pretty amazing - she's so young. I mean, all of these bloggers are so young - and they are intelligent. Also, they have very sophisticated blogs. And, I love the Satorialist, and the Jak & Jil blog. I think that's it.
Yuri may not be your average fashion-driven follower who'd move to New York in a heartbeat to follow their passion. She's moreso a San Francisco Rolo boutique kind-of-girl, who enjoys the complimenting things in life. With various trips to remote cities planned, a launch party in the works and a passion to branch off into photogoraphy as well, it would be remiss of us not to mention that we expect to hear major and great things from Yuri in the future.
See more on Yuri and Lookbook at www.lookbook.nu