Friday, August 29, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Shawn, Off 18th Street

I saw Shawn through a shop window on 18th Street and patiently waited by the alleyway for him to come out. I felt like a thug casing a victim. 
This is the first time Shawn has been stopped by a photographer since moving to Philly. But it used to happen fairly often "back home in Miami." Shawn described his style to me as "street style." That's the first time I've gotten that answer, and it confirmed my intuition that he was the right person to stop for my blog. I asked him where he gets his fashion inspiration from and he told me fashion blogs like Nabile Quenum's J'ai Perdu Ma Veste.  
Shawn is wearing a beanie from Urban Outfitters, a plaid shirt from Hot Topic that he took the sleeves off of himself, and a flannel shirt from Scotch and Soda tied around his waste. The necklace he recently purchased at the newly overhauled and relocated Joan Shepp on Chestnut Street. 
The leggings are by Asger Juel Larson. We had a fun time trying to figure out how to spell that. I googled it when I got home. The boots are Aldo.
The jewelry he's wearing is an assortment of stuff he accumulated over time from Free People and American Apparel.Between American Apparel, Hot Topic, and Urban Outfitters, Shawn seems to have his teen angst supply chains covered. In case you're wondering, he listens mostly to indie music these days, bands like Tennis and Grizzly Bear.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Michael, Chestnut Street

Michael's outfit is the perfect illustration of how utterly normal it has become to mix fast fashion and high fashion brands. His hat is Forever 21. His T-shirt is H&M. The jeans are Pac Sun, the boots Timberland. And the flannel shirt tied around his waste, it's Ralph Lauren. That watch, it's a motherf@#king Rolex.  

Michael described his style to me as "however I feel in the morning." 

"And how did you feel this morning?" I asked.

"Sunny day, straw hat," he said. In general, he likes to keep it "heavy" and "slouchy," a little bit of casual, a little bit of class.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Milana, Walnut Street

I first took Milana's photo back in August of 2012, almost exactly two years ago. Goddamn, I've been doing this for a long time now! 

In this shot, Milana is wearing H&M head to toe, a fact that seemed to surprise her as much as me. The necklace and bracelets, however, she "borrowed" from her mom. That's how she gets a lot of her accessories. She sees something her mom has, asks for it, and it slowly works its way into her wardrobe. She describes her style as "eclectic" and "all over." Her musical taste, she confesses is simply "whatever's on the radio." She seemed to feel slightly embarrassed about that. I just shrugged. "Who's got time to look for new music these days?" I asked.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fashion, Anthropology, and the History of Street Style Photography: My Radio Conversation with DJ Marie of Sew & Tell on BreakThru Radio

Last week I had a really fun conversation with DJ Marie for her show Sew & Tell on BreakThru Radio. We talked about Fashion Week, Visual Anthropology, the history of street style photography, and my own personal style, among other things. You can listen to it now on BreakThru Radio.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Taheira, 17th Street

I didn't realize I'd taken Taheira's picture before until after I stopped her, walking down Walnut Street this past Wednesday. And even then, I didn't quite recognize her. There was just a flash of familiarity that came over me. You can't blame me for that. Most of Center City looks familiar these days. And I've taken a lot of pictures these past two and a half years. Besides, Taheira looked quite a lot of different the last time I ran into her, back in February of 2012. Her style has most definitely evolved.

In these shots, Taheira is wearing a thrifted shirt over an H&M skirt. She didn't used to like H&M, she told me, or at least, she didn't want to like it. But then she saw some of the cute outfits her friends bought, and well, you know, they just kind of seduced her into shopping there. The bag is from Urban Outfitters. The sandals are Birkenstocks. "They're the cutest ugly shoes," said Taheira. 

Taheira describes her style as "versatile, classic, and simple." As for music, she listens to a lot of rap and R&B. PartyNextDoor and YG are some of her top picks at the moment. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Ed, 18th Street

I picked up my rental DSLR today in anticipation of tomorrow's DÎner en Blanc, then slapped my trusty 50mm lens on it and hit my old street style stomping grounds. Ed was the first cool-looking dude I came across. In these shots he's wearing a Fred Perry shirt, a pair of black Levi's Jeans, Clarks shoes and vintage glasses. The hat is a porkpie, though he doesn't know what brand or remember exactly where he got it. The watch is Timex. Ed described his style to me as "rude," to which I asked, "as in rude boy?," the 1960s, sharply dressed Jamaican look that preceded reggae dreads, if you're not familiar with it. In the UK it would go on to inspire mod and the original skinheads. "Yeah," he confirmed. That, I told him, is the first time I've heard that answer out on the streets of Philly. But I'm glad I did. Rude boy is one of my favorite looks from the street style vaults. Ed, even in his musical tastes keeps it old school: soul, reggae, the Philly throw-back Jamaican act The Snails. He's a class act.  

My Radio Interview on Time Out with Phillip Silverstone

Yeah, I know. I know. I haven't posted that many pictures lately. My D700 is still in the shop (just got billed, so hopefully it's coming home soon), and I've been furiously attempting to finish a draft of my book, Street Style Anthropology (due to the publisher, Bloomsbury, on January 1) before classes start at Drexel at the end of September. But more pictures are coming. And soon. Lots of them. Tomorrow night I'll be shooting crowds of the white-clad and wistful at DÎner en Blanc for Racked Philly (I rented a camera, if you were wondering). I'll post some of the photos Racked doesn't use here. At the end of the month, I'll be shooting the Budweiser Made in America festival for them as well. And then, of course, a few days after that is the start of Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week.  So look out. Images are on their way.

In the meantime, following a couple of recent article mentions, first in Drexel Magazine and then in The Guardian (!), I've been on something of an accidental media blitz lately. As part of that, a week or so ago I recorded a radio interview with Phillip Silverstone for his TuneIn Radio program Time Out with Phillip Silverstone. We talked street fashion and the history of street photography. It was fun, and my first ever radio interview. I had no idea I sounded so white and professor-y. Oh well. We can't escape who we are. The interview starts at the 1:07:20 mark. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Marley Mac, Chestnut St

"Whatever" is about the most common answer I get to the question of "How would you describe your style?" "Whatever I like," I hear all the time. "Whatever I feel like putting on." "Whatever feels good." "Whatever's in my closet." Or, in the case of Marley Mac, featured here, "Whatever's comfortable." That last one is perhaps the most common of them all. We love comfort, here in the US of A. It's practically our national motto. But just what is comfortable? Well, that varies tremendously from person to person. For some it's a pair of pre-distressed cut-offs. For some it's a three-piece suit. There is nothing inherently "comfortable" about the clothes most people find comfortable. Comfort is as much a function of personal identity as it is a feature of fabric, fit, or breathability. It is a cultural claim, not just a statement of fact. Otherwise, as Miller and Woodward (2012) explain in their book on denim, no one would describe a pair of stiff selvedge jeans as comfortable. And yet they do. Jeans are the clothing equivalent of comfort food.  

In this shot, Marley Mac (not her real name) is wearing a pair of cut-off shorts she bought pre-cut and pre-distressed from some shop on South Street. Nothing says "comfort" quite like prefabricated wear and tear. People used to spend years breaking in a pair of jeans like this. Now they come with their hominess and familiarity built in.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Harlan, 16th St

Since my DSLR's been in the shop, I've been going all old school street style with my photography: straight up shots taken in front of a wall. That way you can't see how awful the depth of field on my back-up camera is. This camera's pretty functional with the straight ups, but then most cameras would be. And I have a weakness for that kind of photography anyway. No bells, no whistles, just a single individual, shot head-to-toe in front of a neutral surface. That's what you're getting until my camera's back. 

In this shot, Harlan is wearing an H&M gingham shirt over a Guess T-shirt, a pair of H&M skinny jeans, and Tommy Hilfiger leather shoes.The glasses are Magna Design. 

Harlan describes his style as "random." "Literally, it's just however I feel at the moment. I kind of wake up and toss things together." 

As for music, it's all about "rock, rap, and dubstep... and oddly enough, blue grass." Of course it is. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Alex, Chestnut St

Alex, when I stopped her, was wearing a blouse from Urban Outfitters, shorts from American Apparel, and "some old Oxfords," sans socks.She describes her style as "maybe alternative punkish" and "sometimes hipster-y." Her musical taste runs punk and indie, and she's been listening to bands like Gag and Merchandise lately, with a bit of My Bloody Valentine thrown into the mix. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Ezekiel, 16th St

"I hate it when people ask 'Why are you dressed up?," Ezekiel told me, as we chatted in the midst of the pedestrian free-for-all that is Walnut Street, "because this is always me." 

"Life is the occasion to dress up for," I concurred.

"Precisely, my friend," said Ezekiel. "I believe my head is a crown actually, so I wear this fedora to keep all the royalty in and make sure nobody is playing with my hair or anything like that. And I kind of hide behind the mask of these Ray-Bans and take ‘em off for business sometimes. Those are my two staples. Then I just go with my heart every morning."

"And what’ve you got on today?" I asked.

“Right, a Timex  timepiece, a blazer from I don’t remember where, some kind of oxford-navy-blue color and this bow-tie from Aldo."

"What are those shoes, do you know?"

"These are... Stacy Adams."

"And the fedora?"

"The fedora… Jesus is Lord… I think I got it on Walnut… at an H&M, yeah."

"Fair enough. And are you a sock-free kind of guy during the summer?"

"I believe that the warmest days call for no socks at all. So, in the Spring, even in the Winter, if it’s warm – there’ll be no socks on my feet at all. I’m really, really not a fan of socks unless it’s the heart of autumn, in which case  I’ll wear the craziest kinds you’ll ever imagine, because the sock game is ridiculous."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Emily, Chestnut St

Emily describes her style as "bohemian rocker." "But I always like to switch it up," she says, "and do something a little weird. If an indie rocker and an alien had a baby, that's me." 

"And am I to guess from your description of your style," I asked, "that you’re an indie rock kind of person?" 

"I am an indie rock kind of person," she confirmed.
Emily is originally from Florida and came to Philly to study. She noticed right away that the city had a bit more grit to its style than she was used to. That's fine with her. "They like to be a bit on the dirtier side," she says of Philadelphians, "which I think just totally suits the city." In Florida, it's "a lot more clean-cut and like '80s styles." "Very vibrant," she added. Since she moved here, she told me, she's been wearing a lot more earth tones.
When I stopped her, Emily was wearing a chiffon blouse along with vintage jewelry that her grandma picked up from overseas. Her shorts are from Urban Outfitters. Her belt is from Free People. The boots are Lucky Brand.