welcome, be my muse!

Interview: The Sartorialist

Posted in fashion, photography by welcomebemymuse on June 1, 2010

Last week I met Scott Schuman, better known as The Sartorialist. With 240’000 clicks a day, Scott is the most successful fashion Blogger and also he is the one who started the street style photography…

What makes your Blog unique?

romance, quality, consistency.

What is romantic for you?

Well, all the business that I ever did before was all about the facts and numbers and I liked it. But now, I am more free! All the people that I shoot, I don’t really know who they are. And I wanna keep them in the way that I think they are. I don’t usually ask their name, not about the cloths they’re wearing. For me it is romantic as I would like to imagine the story behind the person I shoot. It’s an idea of the person so for me that’s a romantic way of thinking. I even barely remember the street names I am shooting at. But what is romantic for me might not be romantic to you! Sometimes people might look at the cloths, might look at the person’s hair. Sometimes it’s about the scenery in the back of the picture so I leave it a little bit more open as I think it creates better conversation.

How did you start being The Sartorialist?

Well the big issue is that media is so cheap, so inexpensive and so broad. It is so easy to communicate. In the old days (when I was young) there was no attention. You couldn’t just start your own magazine. You have to pay for the paper, for the printing, the photographers and all that. But nowadays it is so inexpensive but so effective. Create your own brand and your own media no matter if you sit here or in any other place of the world. Start thinking about yourself as a personal brand, about what you have to say and what you have to say that is unique. That’s how I started being the Sartorialist. I have to be, to embody what that is. Not only from the emotional point of view. So if I wanna talk about tailored suits and quality and construction, than I better look that way!

What I am writing about is what I really know about. I took all these tailoring classes… Now that media is cheap enough: go, create a name and write about something that you’re good at. A Blog is something daily, you gotta create something every day and so you should find something that you could do everyday. Be as real as you can! When I started I figured out that I would only take pictures and photographs would speak for me so I don’t have to write very much. And when it’s visual, you can enjoy it whether you’re in China or the US or wherever. But when I started to write there was literally a day when I sit and I thought: how is my writing supposed to sound? Do I wanna sound like I am some kind of professional that knows everything or do I wanna write the way I feel about some things? Sometimes I wanna tell something or I wanna ask a question. So be real, do your own thing. Be original. Don’t just copy anything because you think it’s hip or cool – just create your own brand!

There’s this book called “Brand new fit” where the author gives 50 ideas about how to create a new brand. Just once in a while I would flip to a page and I learned that only I can take a photograph the way I see a picture! I see something in a totally different romantic way than everybody else!

True. So what makes a good picture for you?

Well, it is not easy to capture something the way you feel about it. When I started shooting, – this is just between us – I looked for something unique. Not like all the other street style blogs – they were only reporting about what they see. They are doing full body shots standing up against a brick wall and this can ruin a picture. But that is a report on what people are wearing in every city. Personally, labels don’t do anything to me. I know quickly if I wanna shoot someone. And when I do so, I start shooting the person, the way I see them. Most of the people I don’t know who they are but I just liked the romantic idea of the moment.

Besides the romantic way you take the pictures – what is unique about The Sartorialist?

When I started I was inspired by sports talk radio. So, let me explain. In America, there are radio stations and all they do is talk about sports. The idea is taking issues of the day and discuss them on a professional basis. So I listened to how they handled certain situations. When McQueen died, I tried to handle the situation as they do in sports. So there they would pay honor by discussing the life of the person. I thought about how important was this designer in a big scheme? How important was he for menswear? I think too many editors are just too narrow. If you talk about sports with a person at GQ or so they would roll their eyes. And plus they don’t know anything about fashion or construction and still talk about it! If someone narrows themselves then for me it’s fine! It’s their problem, not my problem. Aeeehmmm… Well, it’s their choice…

But nowadays it seems like everybody is having a fashion blog and everybody is a fashion critic.

You know just because you have an opinion it doesn’t make it a good opinion. Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean that anyone else wants to listen to it. It is something typical American capitalistic: you have the right to do it but it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen. So it’s all about quality again. If you do something good, people will find out and it will work out but you actually gotta be doing something that people want to relate to. Just because you play the guitar it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna be playing in a big rock band!

I love the challenge and I love to prove that this thing called blogging works out! Just because it is so easy to start, people get disillusioned.

When I started, people didn’t know about Blogs and were either uninterested or suspicious about it. Mostly though they were totally uninterested and they didn’t know how to handle the situation to have someone at their show having a Blog. So it was tricky to get those people to believe in it but I like that challenge – to work against something. I knew I was doing something good and so I accepted this as a challenge.

Do you remember the first shot you took for The Sartorialist?

I remember the very first day. I was on the streets and I was going to the fish markets in New York City. The fish market back then was run by the mafia. And these guys have big hooks. So I was a little bit scared but I went to them and told them that I wanna take a picture of them. And that big guy looked at me and said: ‘You wanna take a picture of me? What are you? A cop?’ And I was: ‘No. do I look like a cop?’ Another guy was: ‘No. He’s not a cop.’ So I took a deep breath and just did it. I took a picture of that guy. And then I understood if I can take a picture of a big, scary super stinky fish guy than I can take a picture of any fashion person. None is gonna scare me off after that!

Thanks Scott for the interview!