When you think of fashion, glamorous runways may come to mind—complete with flashing cameras and impossibly long-limbed models. We could call this a “top-down” view, where big-name designers decide what the Next Big Thing is going to be. But fashion is as bottom-up as it is top-down, and the truth is that the zone in between is where a lot of the magic happens.

The big name designers won’t find next season’s I’ve-gotta-have-it looks from thin air; they need inspiration like the rest of us. Although their creative impulses could be sparked by almost anything, there’s no doubt that fashion innovators moving about in the “real world” have a big effect. That’s right—regular folks, who happen to have a particularly original sense of style.

Who would think to pair a casual t-shirt with those Gucci mules? This guy. Photo: Styledumonde.com

Since busy designers may not get out of their studios often, they will frequently pay forecasting companies to fill them in on what’s going on in street fashion. These companies have trend spotters on their teams whose job it is to seek out and document anonymous but intriguing fashionistas who are just going about their business. This information is fed back to the big fashion houses (for a small fortune), where the designers may find just the flash of an idea they need to build a new collection. (And, since all the fashion houses are subscribing to the same pricey reports, each has to hope the element that sparked their own concept is not the same one that prompted those of the others.)*

Some designers draw inspiration from the personal styles of their models. These young ladies are generally more well-traveled than most their age and, not surprisingly, are very fashion-conscious. This is precisely the kind of bottom-up creative flow that took place back in 1992, when an emerging Marc Jacobs was working to come up with a spring ready-to-wear collection for Perry Ellis. The supermodels of the day (big names in their own right) were coming into the studio wearing self-styled outfits inspired by the Seattle Grunge scene. Jacobs was inspired to develop a whole collection based around this unique brand of street style, which debuted in 1993 to a somewhat mystified industry, press and public. The fallout included Jacobs losing his job as creative director at Perry Ellis, but these same novel runway looks also established him as an undeniably innovative force in the fashion industry.

A youthful Kate Moss and Kristen McMenamy model two looks from the Sp93 Perry Ellis collection by Marc Jacobs. Photo: Condé Nast Archive

In a fascinating turn of events, those same looks are coming back by way of Jacobs’ own Resort collection next year. You can already see this encore performance here and the original runway shots here. Oh, and if some of the faces from Marc Jacobs Resort19 look eerily familiar, it’s probably because some of the models are the daughters of those who walked for Jacobs back in ’93! (It’s enough to make some of us feel really old.)

It’s déjà vu all over again with this Marc Jacobs look from his Resort 2019 collection. Photo: Vogue.com

Per fashion blogger Ainsley Louise “You don’t need to be famous to have a street style photo taken, it’s all about what you’re wearing and how you’ve styled it.” So the next time you head out the door, make sure you’re dressed for the fashion paparazzi. You may see your personal style on the runway sooner than you think!

*For more about trend spotting and fashion forecasting, see our post from July 2017 here.

Do you find yourself noticing looks on the runway that you saw first in your daily wanderings? (Hello, fanny packs worn cross-body.) Share an example in the comments.