After launching the now famous "Sartorialist" blog in 2005, Scott Schuman has emerged as an influential force in the world of fashion. A self-taught photographer, Schuman shoots for publications including French Vogue, American GQ, Fantastic Man and Elle, and a growing list of advertising clients. He has also shown his work at the New York photo gallery The Danziger Projects and appeared in the GAP Style Icon campaign in the fall of 2008. He has been named the number one fashion photography trend by American Photo magazine, as well as one of Time magazine’s top 100 design influencers. Penguin published an anthology of his favorite photographs in 2009. The hardcover collection is aptly entitled, "The Sartorialist."
Question: Who are some of the most overrated personalities in terms of personal style?
Scott Schuman: Well almost everyone in Hollywood, almost everyone in the record business. I don’t know. To be honest I think it’s funny. I don’t really… You know I’m not much of a… You know I maybe said this before. I’m not much of a people person. You know in doing my blog it’s one of the few places where being incredibly selfish it’s actually very positive because I’m not really… When I’m taking a picture of someone like I don’t really put their names down. Rarely do I put the people’s names down because it’s just not that important. You know I’m taking a picture of someone. It’s my perception of who they are. I’m taking it the way I’m taking it because it’s some… I want to be able to look at… I want to enjoy the picture, so it’s my selfishness that’s actually very generous in the sense that I share the picture. I’m trying to take a nice picture of them, but I’m doing it for totally selfish reasons and one of the things I think people misunderstand on the blog is just because I take a picture of someone doesn’t mean they have great personal style. I mean I don’t know these people. Most of them I’m never met before. You know maybe there is just one thing in the look that I really love and that is all I want to focus on and I try and shoot it in a way that highlights that, but you know I don’t really have a lot of people… I’m just not judgmental that way and I think that sincerity comes through in the blog. I mean to me it really doesn’t matter who they are. It’s not that I don’t want to shoot people in Hollywood or models or musicians. If I ran into 20 musicians in a row and they looked great I’d shoot them, but that just rarely ever happens. I don’t really fall into that, but for me it’s much, much more abstract.
Question: Who is stylish?
Scott Schuman: Yeah, I think Tony Randall on The Odd Couple always looked great. I always thought he looked really cool. And there was someone just the other day. An old show I was watching and the guy always looked great.
Question: Has fashion changed in recent years?
Scott Schuman: I don’t think fashion has really changed much in the last five years. I mean the system is the system. If it was really going to change in a major way now would have been the time to do it. You know so many companies are closing, but they’re not really changing their method of how they do it. They’re jumping on the new hot thing, whatever it is. You know right now it’s blogs. Who knows what it’s going to be next, holograms or whatever and I think a lot of companies are closing, which is great. You know I think we’re way too oversaturated, too many brands, too many stores, too many labels, so you know if it was going to change now would be the time to do it, but it’s not really changing that much. You know shipping is not changing. You know I’d love to see a time when it actually gets cold is when winter clothes hit the store as opposed to the winter clothes hit the store always on the hottest day in August is when all the winter clothes hit, so I think because of technology and because of this kind of speed of digital internet and everything it will change soon because smart designers, young designers are going to be able to start showing their collection in a much wider audience and ship those products closer to the realtime. They won’t need Vogue and all these other places they have to work so far in advance to promote their fashion because they’ll be able to do it right themselves through the internet right to their audience and be able ship the clothes accordingly to that audience and I think there is very… a day very soon where you’ll be able to get some kind of digital printout of your body and have the clothes made for your shape. It will be a new age of tailoring and it’s definitely more than five years off, but I don’t think it’s really faraway. I think it’s definitely in the near future and that will really change fashion, the fashion system in the sense that you won’t just have all this excess of clothes and things shipped so early because you need x amount of time to sell. Hopefully it will become much more efficient, much more effective if you’re actually making clothes that fit people and clothes that people are ordering and want as opposed to trying to guess what they might want.
Question: Who are your following?
Scott Schuman: My readers are located everywhere. You know one of the things that I knew about doing a photo driven blog was that you didn’t have to read English to be able to enjoy the photographs. You know there were elements of people that are looking at it for the fashion content. There is an element of people that kind of like to live vicariously through all these different crazy places I’m going. There is an element that likes to share their fashion idea, maybe they had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and moving to New York or Milan, but for whatever reason, a family reason or whatever they weren’t able to do that, so they’re stuck in Wisconsin or wherever they are and this is their chance to kind of be in that community a little bit, share their comments, look at fashion, share with an audience. One of the things I’m very proud of is we’ve been able to create and audience that is respectful, that you can talk about your fashion ideas, what you like, what you don’t like in a respectful forum. So with that said I think it’s all over the place. I mean all I know is right now when I travel and I do these book tours we always get a really, really good turnout, a very varied audience, men, women, young, old, rich, poor. The audience very much looks like the photographs in my blog, the photographs in my book, which is something I’m very proud of.
December 2, 2009