Friday, May 31, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Camille, Walnut St

Camille just finished her degree in fashion design. She usually wears at least something that she's designed herself, but not today. If you want to see something she has designed, check out the Modern Misfits Art Collaborative pop-up shop at Goldilocks Gallery on June 9th. Everything she's wearing here is from Philly AIDS Thrift, where she volunteers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Luna, Chancellor St

Everything Luna is wearing is thrifted. Except the denim vest. That's his mom's. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Jansen, Walnut St

Caught Jansen reclining in the window of Ubiq, the Philly-based streetwear and sneaker store where he works. Some of their merchandise is displayed behind him.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Briana, Sydenham St

I found Briana out shooting pictures for her photography class, some assignment about contrasts between light and dark, a fitting theme, perhaps, for someone whose skin tone is about as contrasted from the shade of her clothing as possible. I wanted to shoot these "old school" street style, in front of a wall, without all the distractions of the city to confuse the eye. Old school street style treats its subjects like specimens, individual samples removed from their native habitat. I like the stark simplicity of the style. I like its pretense of realism. And yet that realism, in practice, seems to mean something like one-step removed. You know nothing of the context in which these pictures were shot. You know nothing about who the people depicted in them are. There is, quite literally, a wall between you and the surrounding scene.

Briana is wearing a leotard by American Apparel, a dress from Urban Outfitters (her friend's, not hers), boots she picked up in Italy, and a necklace from Afghanistan, which she also picked up in Italy. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Nijiah, Sansom St

Nijiah is another person I caught coming out of an American Apparel interview. Her American flag tank top is Forever 21. Her cut offs are Lucky Brand. Her scarf is "from a regular hair store." Her tights are American Apparel. And her shoes are Doctor Martens.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Bobbie Jo, Walnut St

I caught Bobbie Jo coming out of an open interview at American Apparel. There were all sorts of cool people waiting in line, resumes in hand. But I didn't have the heart to pull them out of line for pictures. Who wants their photo taken when waiting to be interviewed? But after an interview? Well, that's another story. That's confirmation. So I waited down the block for interviewees to come by.   

Bobbie Jo's top is American Apparel, naturally. The thing she's wearing over it (jacket, robe, whatever you call it) is Forever 21. As for the bag? "I have no idea," she says.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: V, Walnut St

V, you may have guessed, is a fan of Billionaire Boys' Club. Her beanie and her T-shirt are both from that brand, the streetwear clothing line of producer/hip hop artist/clothing designer/ubiquitous global presence Pharrell Williams. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Skillit, South St

Me: Do you mind if I use your first name on the blog?

Him: It doesn't matter. People will just look at it and say, "Hey, that's Skillit!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Lyrical, Sydenham St

I've never seen anyone wear their lipstick divided into two halves in this way, and I don't know what I think of it in a kind of pure aesthetic sense. But then there's no such thing as pure aesthetic sense anyway. So why not take a risk and do something different?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Jody and Kiwi Olive Wilhelmina Harker Cousteau, Off South St

Yes, that's his dog's real name, a hodgepodge of literary and pop cultural references. And yes, those are shoes, though they remind me more of a gorilla's hands. They are made of kangaroo leather. They facilitate a more "natural" walk.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Shanda, Off South St

Notice the same mysterious dude in these shots as was in the shots of Michaela, posted two days ago. I like that he invades these shots with his uncomfortable, spectral presence, an unintended participant in my street style project. I also like Shanda's urban warrior style sensibility, edgy and unkempt, but meticulously put together. The fact, by the way, that these shots take place in the same alleyway as those of Michaela, should clue you in to the circumstances under which these shots were taken. Michaela and Shanda were part of a group of three. The final member of their group will be featured on Friday, same alleyway, same mysterious dude.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Michaela, Off South St

Friday, May 3, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: Denise, Chancellor St

Denise was late for work when I stopped her but posed for me anyway. She's head to toe in Urban Outfitters. I'm liking the floral on floral. It's a combination I haven't seen before.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Philadelphia Street Style: DJ, Walnut St

Doc Martens have such a long, tumultuous history, it's hard for me not to notice as they come in and out of fashion. They were work boots once, marketed to British workers for their durability and comfort, their "air-cushioned soles" and their steel toes, just in case an anvil got dropped on your feet on the job. And then, in the early 1960s, the first generation of British skinheads picked them up as a signifier of unpretentious working-class culture. They soon became a uniform, spreading to the US, Germany, and elsewhere as part of the complete skinhead package. When they started popping up in the US in the late '70s and early '80s, they were deeply associated with two distinct groups: the punks, who saw them as the ultimate shit-kicker shoes, the perfect wardrobe item for a mosh pit; and the racist, white power skinheads, who saw them as the ultimate ass-kicking shoes, the perfect wardrobe item for getting into a fight. The racist skinheads retained the old school working-class association of the boots, but added a new connotation of militancy and right-wing politics.  

By the time I picked up my first pair of Doc Marten ten-eyes at age 15 in Sacramento, California, they had become something like a wearable billboard of one's political ideology, with the shoelaces one wore as indication of one's political orientation. Black, the color that came with the boots, was essentially neutral, although neutral in this case tended to indicate a kind of default left-wing attitude. That was the color I wore. It was also the preferred color of punks, retro-mods, emo kids, and goths. White meant "white power," and was the color of choice of racist skinheads. Red was specific to WAR, White Aryan Resistance, advocating an even more militant and violent form of racism. Blue, on the other hand, was taken up by SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice), a group of American skins who traced their politics back to the old-school British model of skinhead (i.e. solidarity with the working man and a stylistically sensibility borrowed from Jamaican Rude Boys, imported to the UK by West African immigrants). They wore British flags on their flight jackets to make the connection even more apparent. They claimed they were the "true skinheads," as if somehow that was a legacy they were born into. I always suspected they chose to become SHARPs largely because they wanted to get into fights without seeming like assholes. And if you're going to pick a fight with someone, why not racist skinheads? Who'd blame you? Pink, on the hand, by the late '80s came to signify "queer core," LGBT activists with a punk bent. By the early 1990s, Doc Martens were damn near ubiquitous among urban American youth subcultures of all types. And then Guess bought the brand, and they gradually went out of fashion.  

Fast-forward to 2007 or 2008, when I started noticing Doc Martens on the feet of Los Angeles hipsters, those purveyors of ironic nostalgia with a penchant for continually recycling styles from their childhoods. And then, moving to Philly in 2009, I started noticing Docs showing up on hip hoppers. And now, walking the streets of Philly, it is obvious that Doc Martens have become the shoe of choice for a wide of young people, from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide variety of stylistic orientations. They are everywhere. And since people don't do subcultures in quite the way they used to, these days it seems like they represent something else: individuality, as Docs now come in so many shapes, styles, and colors, they can be just about anything to anyone. Just check out the frowny face on DJ's boots. But it's funny how so many of us use the same product to define ourselves as different. Is this individuality? Or a classic case of "pseudo-individuality," mass marketed for popular consumption, as Adorno and Horkheimer dubbed the phenomenon way back in 1944?

Hard to say. But I like the way DJ wears the boots, one more bright color to go with her lively, over-size Betsey Johnson sweater. There's a touch of new and a touch of old here, like she's maintaining a set of incongruous traditions, while attempting to pave her own way.