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May 25, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Sartorialist

fashion

I am a true and deep fan of fashion magazines. No online substitute can beat the high gloss pages and perfectly primed women which lie enshrined in a printed publication. But unfortunately, spending 10+ dollars per issue (keeping in mind that I don’t stop at just buying one magazine, I often get several kinds) is a luxury which is fast becoming detrimental to my near-empty bank account.

When times are tough (AKA when I am spending responsibly) I often head to The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com) for my fashion fix. This online blog was started by New Yorker Scott Schuman, who after 15 years in high-end fashion sales and marketing, decided to close his showroom and focus on photography.

Schuman never had aspirations of becoming a ‘fashion photographer’ as such but felt that there was a disconnection between what he had been selling in the showroom, and what “really cool people” were wearing in real life.

This resulted in the birth of his online blog in 2005, which features photographs of people from the streets of New York, Paris, Milan, Sydney and beyond. Schuman treats the city streets as a catwalk, capturing the looks which define (or redefine) contemporary fashion and style.

Schuman’s vision when he began his blog was to shoot style in the way that most designers sought inspiration, and that gave a wider audience inspiration in the process. As a clear indicator of his achievement, The Sartorialist was named one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers.

Although there are similar blog concepts which concurrently exist on the internet, there is something about Schuman’s photographic skill, choice of subject, and his impeccable eye for style which makes his blog particularly popular.

For the most part, Schuman’s blog is devoid of fashion commentary. He chooses to let the images speak for themselves.
This is an element of the blog I quite enjoy—when something is aesthetically pleasing I don’t think it needs a synopsis. People are left to decide whether they like the image or not, and I don’t believe that any amount of discussion on ‘colour’ and ‘texture’ will change people’s opinion on whether an outfit looks good or not.

There is almost something redundant about commentating on fashion images, and if anything, they tamper with the totality of a well styled outfit by dissociating the elements of the outfit from one another.

A friend of mine who is also involved in fashion writing has a different view. He believes that posting photographs of well dressed people online but offering no comment is a copout. There is little value in an image out of context, and not offering an opinion is the easiest way to appeal to the masses, in his opinion. There is obvious truth in what he’s saying—there is no cutting-edge fashion journalism on The Sartorialist; in fact the images offer no claim of being the looks of the future. It is easy to argue then that Schuman’s blog is little more than self-indulgence photography…. but I don’t think anyone is claiming otherwise.

It is a truly opulent vocation to be able to travel the world, snapping shots of the well dressed, and although some of the hard work is removed when he chooses not to act as ‘supreme judge of fashion’, it is exactly that which draws in his viewers; well, me anyway. I’m not on his blog to read a comprehensive discussion on the pros and cons of the outfit, I’m there to draw inspiration from lived-fashion, to see styled outfits outside of editorial magazines, and to make my own mind up whether I like the photographs or not without the rants of some self-acclaimed fashion expert.

Opinion is a fantastic thing and this is definitely not an anti-opinion piece (that would be too ironic seeing as this entire column is my opinion). In fact, with an average of 40 comments per photograph The Sartorialist is very open to viewer thoughts. Keep in mind, however, that there is nothing greater than a well written, informed, and insightful fashion article, so although I encourage you all to check out The Sartorialist, don’t stop purchasing your fabulous and glossy mags and taking the creepy (yet mandatory) new-smell sniff when you get home. That’s something you definitely shouldn’t do online. Ever.

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