The creator of influential blog The Sartorialist tells Stephen Spear why he spends his life walking the streets of the world’s fashion capitals.
How did The Sartorialist begin?
I didn’t think, I just did it. It’s a simple idea and didn’t cost anything to start. In the beginning I just kept it focused, I tried to stay consistent.
Why do you think it is so popular?
It was just menswear in the early days and that attracted a core group. After that it spread by word of mouth.
How does it feel to know it has become so influential?
I know it means a lot to people. But day to day, I’m still just out there doing it on my own, walking around and taking pictures. I feel it more at shows. People know who I am and I tend to get treated better.
Does that mean more pressure?
It doesn’t feel like pressure but I do set my own standards and I need the blog to be good. I don’t want to post anything [online] just for the sake of it. I know that the blog’s audience would rather there was nothing up on the website than just ‘something’, and I want to continue to grow the site. I’ve found something that I love doing and I want to do it for the rest of my life.
Where do you most like to visit?
I always love going to Milan. Once you’ve been there a few times you get an idea of where to go and what you’ll get. In Milan you get to see great guys, Paris is all about
the women and Stockholm is for the kids. In New York you get the vintage stuff and the sexy but quirky girls.
In London you never know what you’re going to get. It’s eccentric. But I wouldn’t want to go to any of these places all of the time – the pleasure is in the variety.
Is there anywhere you still want to go?
I haven’t been to Japan yet and I would love to visit Tokyo. I see a lot of cool Japanese guys when I go to Pitti Uomo in Florence. They’re amazing.
Who are the best people to snap?
I like unexpected things – it’s abstract inspiration. It’s best when you see someone like a third-level fashion assistant from Italian Elle and she looks totally charming and still kind of abstract and you know that some designer could just look at her and be inspired. It’s good to take pictures of famous people but there are thousands of pictures out there already of Kanye West.
Is there a difference in the way you photograph men and women?
I shoot men by instinct and women by experience. I have 15 years experience of working with designers in womenswear before I started The Sartorialist, so I know what it is that makes women chic. Actually there is more female traffic on the website than male. I know what a chic woman thinks is chic. There is nothing trashy on the site – there’s no Britney Spears. But I have to add that I’m not trying to think like a woman!
And what is in your wardrobe?
It’s a mix. I like to dress formally when it’s appropriate but I also like to be more casual. When I’m out and it’s hot I like to wear a pair of cotton shorts and maybe a Ralph Lauren lightweight polo that has a four-button placket – it’s those little details that make it better, you know – you can be stylish without going too far. But your outfit has to work with your lifestyle.
My icon:Who is your fashion icon and why?
Cary Grant. He obviously had a good wardrobe but he wore it with a sense of humour and was also very physical in his clothes.
Anyone who has seen Scott Schuman in the flesh will be unsurprised to discover his fashion icon. Like Cary Grant, Schuman is also an imposing character, and was shot for a Gap ad in which he cuts a satisfyingly vintage figure, not entirely removed from the image of Grant, who cut a dash in a uniform and filled a suit handsomely. His international lifestyle also fits with Grant’s mid-Atlantic style. The actor, born Archibald Leach, was raised in Bristol in the UK and journeyed to the US to pursue his acting career. When on the acting ladder Leach changed his name.
He chose Cary Grant because the C and G initials had proved prosperous for actors Clark Gable and Gary Cooper, whose careers Grant surpassed, carving a niche as the archetypal gent, whether in screwball comedies like His Girl Friday or more thrilling efforts – most notably the movies of Alfred Hitchcock.