Street style wasn’t born in the 2010s, but you could say it was the decade it really mattered. Nothing about the medium is the same as it was back in 2011, when Phil Oh shot his first fashion week for Vogue. And it certainly doesn’t look like street style in 2007, when Oh launched his blog, Mr. Street Peeper, alongside other OG photographers like Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman. “I don’t think any of us knew it was going to become a thing,” Oh says. By “a thing,” he means a career, a marketing platform, and a source of massive global interest.
How did street style go from hobby blogging to this, exactly? Looking back on the past decade (well, almost—nine years) of photos, you start to see the turning points crystallize. As digital media and Instagram evolved and surged in popularity, street style also got bolder and more graphic—eye-catching, photogenic stuff. You can also discern almost the exact moment everyone ditched stilettos for sneakers, and when Alessandro Michele’s debut at Gucci single-handedly changed the way we dress. Some years were marked by specific collections or designers, while others were about unique items, trends, or cultural shifts. Most recently, street style has been looking a lot more diverse, thanks to the rise of models like Adwoa Aboah, Adesuwa Aighewi, and Teddy Quinlivan. Below, we’ve distilled thousands and thousands of photos into groups that define each year—with a few ideas of what’s to come in 2020.