You know, I swore to myself I wouldn’t do it, but I suppose the time has finally come where I have to talk about street style. Since day one, I’ve always rejected the idea of giving any shine to street style photos on this blog, mainly because I feel that street style has evolved into this attention hungry beast that gets further away from itself with each subsequent fashion week. I watched this belief get validated over and over again this past week, as it seemed like half the people that I saw heading into the shows were painfully uncomfortable in their own skin. I say uncomfortable because I’m not going to dig into the whole “fashion Halloween” thing or whatever people like to compare street style to these days. I don’t mind that people dress in ways that I would deem ridiculous, it’s never been my place to critique someone’s personal style. But what does bother me is when I see a guy who can barely cross the street because his leather jeans are painted on so tight he can’t bend his knees, forgoing ability to function normally, all in hopes that someone will take his photo.
The biggest issue for me with all this isn’t that people end up looking like fools (that’s their decision), it’s that the whole market is now vastly over saturated. There’s almost no way to skim the fat at this point, which makes it easy to forget that there are still people actually worth documenting, and great photographers to do so. I was reminded of this fact during the last round of street style photos that came out of NYFW. The final day of shows is typically one that most people in menswear don’t end up attending, as the highlight of the day is the Ralph Lauren women’s show, which almost all of us have no business attending (aside from having a simple desire to watch beautiful women walk around in beautiful clothes.) This means that the coverage coming out from this day is a bit different, it’s not all the same people as the week prior, because if you’re a man at Ralph’s women’s show, odds are pretty good you work for the company, which brings some “unfamiliar” faces out of the woodwork.
This final collection of photos broke up the monotony that was building up from the week prior, but there was one shot in particular, that suddenly reminded me of the whole point of street style to begin with: Liam Goslett‘s photo of John Wrazej. Wrazej, the Senior Vice President of Men’s Sportswear at Ralph Lauren, seems to only surface twice yearly during each respective season’s women’s show, and a quick search proves that each time he comes through like a walking Ralph inspiration board, in the best way possible. And it’s not just that his attire is impeccable, which it is, I mean white jeans, a double breasted blazer, with deep navy cable knit sweater underneath, worn-down double monks, and a matching bag. It’s pretty impossible to beat that for a late summer Itali-trad fit.
No, what really keeps me coming back to this photo (and the rest of Liam’s shots from that day) is that they’re a reminder that there’s still something new to see and learn from. With street style turning into a swirling pot that’s one part “icons” shot from every possible angle (who at this point I’m afraid to even mention by name because I would hate for their actual work and reputations to be eclipsed by their ability to get their photos taken), poorly fitting suits, abrasively bright prints, and overly calculated outfits months in the making. This photo of Wrazej, as well as the few other Ralph-related guys that Liam shot that day, act as a reminder that going to shows is a part of job, they don’t have to impress anyone, if they’re style is documented it’s secondary, not intentional. From what I’ve heard this is how Wrazej dresses nearly every day, no matter the occasion, and I can absolutely believe that. He, and his peers look at home in their clothes, because they aren’t doing it for the photographers, they’re just doing it because they woke up in the morning and that’s what they always do. That’s what we should be getting out of street style, examples of genuine style, not forced outfits pushed far beyond the point of reality.