You’ve seen this Instagram profile before. You’ve probably seen the independent cafes and luminous backgrounds before too. The white marble, exposed pine and amber-hued Edison light bulbs look familiar even though you’ve never been there. These are interspersed with tropical holiday photos, featuring girls in Reformation or Brandy Melville mannequin outfits and Ray bans, followed by a semi-formal group shot of a red tulle sea. hash tagged #ootd selfies showcase layered gold necklaces and chunky neutral sweaters over skinny jeans, revealing their rooms which all seem to feature the same grey furniture aesthetic with pops of millennial pink and white faux fur; maybe the occasional succulent. Even though the spaces are similarly decorated, the VSCO filters layered over these images create a certain ambience of tanned skin in bleached, sunny interior and exterior spaces. If these descriptions sound familiar to you, you’ve probably come across a sorority member’s Instagram account. Since the influx of saturated yet minimalist VSCO filters and the emergence of FaceTune have become more commonplace on Instagram, especially among these accounts, in the past few years, these aesthetics have seemingly become a template for sorority experiences on and offline. By shaping one’s individual and collective sorority Instagram profile through these visuals of pastel backgrounds and sparkling smiles, these identities, like many others, have become more visible and standardized through popular photo editing and sharing apps.
As the world reached its second millennium twenty years ago, the West was in the midst of an unprecedented and exponentially increasing gulf between producer and consumer. As most assemblage and creation of clothing continue to move in large swathes from the domestic to the international sphere, customers purchasing garments experience a distance between these textiles and their own lives. This results in a desire for an individual story attached to these mass-produced clothes at the level of aesthetics in high fashion and materiality of ready-to-wear apparel. As we transition further into the 21st century, internet platforms widen this interaction between producer and consumer. Coupled with individual story-based digital architecture as well and a push towards secondhand buying due to climate anxieties, having a story behind the garments you’re wearing seems more important than ever, even if that story isn’t yours.