Aperol spritzes, picture-perfect white sundresses, seaside seafood dinners — when summer rolls around each year, our Instagram feeds seem to flood with this aesthetic.
Because of the great weather, food and plethora of cultural activities, many Americans take the summer months as an opportunity to travel to various destinations within the European continent, creating the recent emergence of what many call “Euro summer.”
The concept blossomed as a trend on TikTok last year, with influencers sharing videos about how to dress for “European summer” and giving advice to those who had plans to travel and wanted to fit in with the style of the destination. But it quickly became a colloquial term to sum up one’s hopeful or actual trip to the European continent.
People began to use it to label Instagram captions and many brands used it as a concept and aesthetic to promote their summer collections.
But as the term, aesthetics and destinations of these travels gained popularity, much of the cultural distinctions of the locations began to get lost.
What the descriptor “Euro summer” and following trend fail to acknowledge is that not every European country has the same style of dressing, among many other cultural elements.
In my view, the “Euro summer” that our generation refers to really just includes Italy, Greece and sometimes Spain. It romanticizes only those cultures — failing to acknowledge a plethora of other countries that are culturally, linguistically and socially different to them and one another.
The “Euro summer” internet craze also rapidly promotes consumerism where it is not necessary. Although the creators may mean well, the TikTok videos use the romanticization of certain European countries to sell products. It almost makes Europe a mystique — something that one has to change for — when in reality, the fashion in many European countries and the U.S. are seldom distinct enough to warrant purchasing an entirely new wardrobe.
On that note, another pattern which seems to emerge whilst examining the “Euro summer” trend is the demonstration of a lack of basic cultural knowledge of the city or locations people are traveling to.
I believe the popularity of the concept and its origins in aesthetics has caused people to value the presentation and desirability of their travels more than they do the actual experience.
Obviously travel is a wonderful opportunity and experience, and on its own, posting about it isn’t a problem. However, what is a problem is the generalization of the continent of Europe. When we talk about European travels, it often gets lost on some travelers that every country and even city has its own language, culture, etc. that is distinct from any other, even those which it borders.
Each should be individually experienced and appreciated, not simply lumped in with 43 other countries on the same landmass.
Seeing posts about European travel and its commodification made me realize that “Euro summer” is about more than just vacationing. The phenomenon has brought to light travelers’ ability — or lack thereof — to be culturally sentient and understand the world around them in a nuanced way, even if in limited quantities.
No continent, or even country, is a monolith, and we should remember that when it comes to talking about our own travels, wherever they may be.