Fashion Style

Vivien Allender har fotografert ungdom fra hele verden

Den prisbelønnede fotografen Vivien Allender fra New York har fotografert over 500 kids mellom 11 og 14-år fra hele verden. Resultatet er utstillingen “Here Is Our Future. The Global T(w)eens Project”.  Under FUSHION – Oslo Art and Fashion Festival  kan du se mange av portrettene i en mini-utstilling på Oslo City. Styletalk benyttet anledningen til å spørre fotografen: finnes det en felles global ungdomskultur?

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ST: Hva har ungdommene du har fotografert til felles, og hva skiller dem stilmessig fra hverandre?
Vivien: “På et fundamentalt menneskelig plan er de 500+ kidsa jeg har fotografert ganske like. De er nysgjerrige, ivrige, engasjerte og veldig sosialt bevisste. På et mer selvbevisst nivå er de mer individualister. De har selv valgt hva de vil ha på seg og man ser tydelig at mange liker å identifisere seg med en bestemt gruppe som for eksempel japanske gutter i sine baseball-uniformer, jenter fra Guatemala i sine beste søndagsklær, Midt-Østen-kids tradisjonelt tildekket og pakistanske ungdommer i skoleuniformer. Likevel ser man tydelig at alle liker å gi uttrykk for personlig stil og smak.”

“En tydelig forskjell er forholdet til mobiltelefoner, tablets og headsets. Her jeg bor er det vanlig at ungdom er fullstendig hekta på smarttelefonene sine, og det var forfriskende å møte ungdom andre steder, i både i-land og u-land, som ikke på langt nær er like hekta på teknologi.”

“Ellers har de fleste ungdommer samme daglige rutiner enten de er fra Norge, eller Togo, Japan eller New Zealand: stå opp, gjøre seg klar for dagen, vente på bussen eller toget, skole, skole, skole, tog, buss, hjem, fritid, middag, lekser, gjøre seg klar for kvelden, sove. Og neste dag: gjenta.”

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ST: Hva overrasket deg mest i møtet med de forskjellige ungdommene?
Vivien: “Samfunnsengasjementet og bevisstheten rundt sosiale forhold. Når jeg spurte hva de var bekymret for, svarte de fleste: klimaendringer, menneskehandel, fattigdom, slaveri og likestilling. Jeg er mektig imponert over hvor sofistikert og modent de snakket om disse ganske vanskelige temaene. Om noe skiller de forskjellige ungdommene så kan det se ut som om felleskapet har større plass i livene til ungdom i u-land, mens for i-landsungdommer er virtuell virkelighet en vel så stor og viktig del av hverdagen. Med tanke på vår tids selfiekultur ble jeg også overrasket over hvor vanskelig det var å få ungdommer til å stille opp på bildene. Kun halvparten av de jeg spurte takket ja. I mange tilfeller var det foreldrene som ikke ville at barna skulle fotograferes, det er et naturlig beskyttelsesinstinkt.

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ST: Likte de fleste ungdommene de samme merkene?
Vivien: “De yngste – såkalte tweens (11-12 år) var mindre merkebevisste enn tenåringene (13-14 år) jeg snakket med. Jeg merket tydelig at logo-trenden ikke lenger er så dominerende som den var. Lojaliteten til spesielle merkevarer var mindre viktig for de jeg snakket med, de kombinerte like gjerne Adidas-sko med Nike-bukser og Ralph Lauren Polo-trøyer. Men globalt er nok Nike og Adidas vinnerne blant ungdom, enten de bor på Island, i India, Hong Kong, Australia, Elfenbenskysten eller Serbia. Likevel er individuell stil åpenbart viktigst for de fleste. Kun når det gjelder sko virket det som merkene stod sterkt. Kanskje er det nettopp i årene før kids blir voksne at den stilmessige individualismen er sterkest? Vi skal heller ikke glemme at foreldre ofte er de som bestemmer garderoben til 11-12-åringer, mens 13-14-åringene i større grad lar seg påvirke av andre ungdommer.”

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ST: Finnes det en felles global ungdomskultur?
Vivien: “Det kan se slik ut, med mindre man bor på mer bortgjemte steder på kloden. Hiphop-kulturen står sterkt blant ungdom fra Danmark til Australia. Stilen er ganske lik overalt, selvom merkepreferanser varierer. Her spiller nok sosiale medier med alle sine kjøpte og betalte influensere en vesentlig rolle. Man kan spørre seg hvordan verden ville sett ut om vi ikke hadde disse felles referansene? Om jeg skal oppsummere kan vi si at T-skjorter og jeans dominerer klesstilen overalt.”

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Alle bilder: Vivien Allender

For our English readers:

Photographer Vivien Allender explores global youth culture

“Here Is Our Future. The Global T(w)eens Project” portrays over 500 unique 11-14 year-olds from 36 countries and explores universality through individuality.

The Global T(w)eens Project is an ongoing artistic investigation by award winning photographer Vivien Allender from New York. So far she’s have shot over 500 portraits in 36 countries across six continents including Norway, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Colombia, Russia, Ghana, India and Japan to name some. Right now some of her works are on display in Oslo during FUSHION – Oslo’s Fashion and Art Festival. We asked Vivien her thoughts about global youth culture.

oslo5-3.jpgST: How are the tweens you have photographed different? And how are they alike?
Vivien: “Of the 500+ kids I have photographed around the world on a fundamentally   human level they are all the same. They are interesting and engaged, excited and  eloquent and they are socially aware. On a superficial level. I do ask the subjects to  dress in their normal everyday clothes but beyond that I do not in any way control what  they wear. I have discovered that through their choice of clothes that some identify  more with a larger group via a uniform ­‐Japanese boys in their baseball uniforms,  Guatemalan girls in their Sunday best, Middle Eastern kids in their traditional garb,  Pakistani kids in their prized school uniforms. Still, all had an element of style and   self-­expression. ”

Oslo5-2ST: Does it seem to be a youth culture that is relevant no matter where you live on the planet? Do the kids have more or less the same references?
Vivien: “A notable difference is in their various connections to phones/tablets/earbuds. Where I live it seems unusual to see a kid not permanently attached to their technology but it was really refreshing to find that in many countries‐ both developed and developing‐kids were not nearly as attached. They all have pretty much the same daily routine from Togo to Norway, Japan to New Zealand. “Wake up, get ready, bus, train, wait, school, school, school, train, wait, bus, home, free time, dinner, homework, get ready, sleep, repeat.”
oslo5-5ST: What surprised you most in the meeting with the different kids?
Vivien: “Many things. Their level of engagement, their awareness of social issues, (for example when asked about any concerns they had the answers included concerns about climate change, human trafficking, poverty, slavery, gender equality and so on), their ability to communicate even without a mutual language, their confidence, their maturity.  Their maturity level was sometimes way more sophisticated and advanced than I had expected. You could attribute this in part to their exposure to global culture and brand awareness through social media. They see problems and think that change could happen if only adults would get their act together. ”

“That kids in developing countries seemed to be much more altruistic and connected to family and community whilst kids in developed countries tend to be more concerned with individual gratification. Community takes a primary role in developing and traditional cultures, that seems more virtual for kids of developed countries. ”

“I was also surprised in this age of social media and obsession with selfies that it is not always easy to find participants and only about 50% of those asked agreed. A large part of this is parents’ unwillingness to allow their kids to be photographed. Naturally parents are protective of their children. ”

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ST: Is the craving for certain fashion labels universal? What labels were most popular?
Vivien: “I think at the younger end of the scale, the “tweens” (11­‐12) are less label conscious than the teens (13­‐14). I see that the age of the logo is not as dominant as it was. Brand loyalty seems less important to them and they easily combine Adidas shoes with Nike pants and a Ralph Lauren Polo T­‐shirt. Nike and Adidas do seem to be the big winners, with fans proudly wearing them from Iceland to India, Hong Kong to Australia, Ivory Coast to Serbia and spanning the globe. So, individual expression seems more dominant than any particular brand. Shoe brands seemed to stand out the most. Perhaps it’s this age, just before kids are fully‐grown, where individual self­‐expression supersedes most brand identifications? Perhaps too parents remain the gatekeepers of their children’s habits at this age then at 13­‐14 the teens are taking cues from older teens rather than from their parents. ”

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ST: Does it seem that youth culture is relevant no matter where you live on the planet?
Vivien: “The youth culture dominance around the world is still a question that is open. It is not as forthright and obvious as I would have expected when starting this project. We all imagine kids might wear a Nike t-‐shirt anywhere in the world, saying that Nike is cool to them. In reality, any “brand  tribe” associations were a lot less obvious than that original assumption. Only in the remotest parts of the world did they not seem to have the same cultural references. For the rest of the world for example there is a nod to hip hop culture in an Australian boy as much as a Danish boy, or girl. Styles, rather than labels, seem to be consistent across the globe and I am certain that social media and the advertising dollars spent in this arena, whether via DM or influencer or celebrity endorsement have a huge impact. How would the world look without that? And still jeans and t‐shirts dominate the world. ”

All photos: Vivien Allender

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