Scott Schuman started The Sartorialist in 2005 simply to share images of people on the streets of New York whose style inspired him. Since that time, Schuman has traveled the world — mainly to other fashion capitals —capturing images in much the same way. His work has resulted in five books and a strong and loyal following on social media. In addition to being featured in various fashion photography exhibits including ‘Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011’ at the Getty Museum in 2018, Schuman’s images now reside in the permanent collections of major institutions such as The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery
What is a trend or item that reflects men’s style at this point in time?
I think the hoodie is the item of this period. It’s protective, warm, unisex and it can be realized in many different types of fabric or knit (from the most simple to the most luxe). I also think it hasn’t yet been really exploited in terms of how it can work into a wardrobe. I think designers still have many options of how to play with the design elements of a hoodie before the style is totally exhausted.
How can fashion as a form of individual and free expression play a role in our changing societies?
I hope fashion continues to be a form of personal expression, but I fear that because of the personal and direct feedback people (especially vulnerable young people) receive on social media, many are afraid to express themselves. They are afraid of the public ridicule of anonymous strangers. Before social media, if one dressed in a unique way, strangers on the street wouldn’t (or rarely) comment on how you were dressed, so we lived in a state of isolated but happy bliss. However in the future, people will have to be stronger in their conviction of self-expression. Those who do potentially have more gain more socially — big risk, big reward!
How does the current crisis impact people’s relationship with clothing and fashion?
I think the current crisis is making people reconcile why they wear fashion: is it for true self-expression; is it to fit into a certain social group; or is it for self-promotion and to be noticed on social media? Unfortunately I think many people today dress for “likes” and for strangers on social media; people who they will never meet and would never “waste” a look on a dinner with friends if no one is posting about it. However, on the positive side, the social and racial reckoning that is happening at the same time as the pandemic will hopefully open the doors to more people having fun with fashion who feel confident to dress in the way they want.