We are surrounded by thousands of street style images and we are quite used to this phenomenon. But, if you think about it, this concept is a bit unusual
Stopping someone on the street and asking to take their picture because you like their outfit, it is kind of weird. As always, when weird things get repeated we get used to them which kills the element of odd. Still, my curiosity took me into digging and finding out how it all started, so here is a short and fun trip to the past aiming to discover how it all began.
Their pictures may be described as street style of that era and they show very well the society and fashion of that period.
John Thomson maybe didn’t walk around London aiming to capture fashion but his photos can fit the category. Even though he used the heavy camera and equipment that was available at the time, his images still seem light and quite spontaneous.
Vivian Maier (vivianmaier.com) was a nanny that kept her negatives in a secret storage away from anyone’s eyes. Her work was discovered by chance and you can see the whole story about it in a documentary called Finding Vivian Mayer.
Most people will mention legendary Bill Cunningham (billcunninghamnewyork.co.uk) as one of the first street style photographers. Bill captured history of New York City by photographing its inhabitants. With very versatile subjects he also captured the hectic life of the Big Apple. Bill is still working, usually chasing around on his bike searching for style and capturing trends incorporated in people’s everyday lives. Starting around 1987, he captured many interesting periods and changes that reflected in the clothes. He was one of the pioneers of shooting people on the streets for the sake of fashion and his pictures graces and still do, the pages of New York Times Magazine.
Also there in the 70’s were James Shabazz and Shosuke Ishizu, both more focused on the phenomenon of hip hop movement that started developing. James is a New Yorker from Brooklyn and he has been capturing the urban life that you can have a close look at in his books. Shosuke was more attracted to preppy style of Ivy League students and the book he participated in creating called Take Ivy is considered the ultimate Bible for lovers of this style.
Big step happened in the 80’s when Terry Jones left British Vogue and I-D Magazine was born. Quite famous for its ”straight-up” shots, this magazine was the first to put regular people dressed for clubbing and other social occasions on pages next to models and celebrities. People got noticed for what they were wearing and it got them printed and published and distributed for others to see. Another magazine was started in the 90’s in Japan, dedicated entirely to street style of Tokyo and it’s fashionable area of Harajuku. Shoichi Aoki documented the style with his camera and started magazine called Fruits to share it with everyone.
The blogging phenomenon revolutionized the street style photography as internet gave everyone a platform to display their work and social media made it easier to attract followers and get the buzz started. The men standing at the top is Scott Schuman also known as the Sartorialist. He started his photo documentation of society in 2005 and it led him to book deals, campaign shootings and many other collaborations. Right next to him there is Tommy Ton (tommyton.tumblr.com) with his amazing images and many other hopefuls trying to make it on the streets with their cameras. We are only to wait and see where street style goes from here.
Text by Ivona Josipovic