It was Scott Schuman’s The Sartorialist in 2005 that made people sit up and take notice of the street style culture around the world. Schuman’s approach was unique — he photographed the most unusually dressed people on the streets of Paris, Rome and the United States. Soon after, many such blogs mushroomed all over the web, each with their unique sense of individuality and presentation. The effect was so strong that even newspapers and various other magazines dedicated a special section to ‘street style’ in their daily columns.
The Indian Mix
In India, Manou, a fashion design graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology wasn’t even aware of who Scott Schuman was! He photographed everyone from the common man, the daily office-goer, to even the street beggar for his blog — www.wearbout.wordpress.com that was started in 2010. “I was in Dharamshala for a couple of years where I noticed a wide range of well-dressed people. They were not necessarily fashion followers or brand-conscious but normal people who wore a lot of colourful outfits. That triggered my interest in people and the way they present themselves. I had no idea about the street style blogs that were famous abroad.”
His artistic content and sharp pictures won him accolades in the western media. Everybody from The Guardian to the New Yorker rated his blog among the ‘The top 15 blogs’ from around the world. But Manou dismisses his popularity with modesty. “I am very lucky and honoured that such stalwarts are taking interest in my work. Honestly, I didn’t even know the concept of street style fashion. There are still so many people in India that don’t know about my blog or my work. Though street style is evident in India, it is not very well-known,” he explains.
Quirk it up
Though India is still at a very nascent stage in terms of a concrete street style, there is a strong cultural sense in people’s sartorial choices. Manou admits, “I think we are very lucky as a nation to have a strong cultural sense which comes across in a way a person dresses up. I get attracted to the overall look; it can be completely put-together or totally unkempt. It depends on how confidently a person carries himself.”
For another street style blogger Karishma Rajani of www.purplepeeptoes.com it is the unique sense of individuality that a person incorporates in his attire.
Widely known for photographing the bohemians in the bylanes of Mumbai, Rajani believes that it is all about the personality of a person that attracts her to them. “It is not always about high-end brands. I gravitate towards people who wear something unique. It can be a jacket over a neon saree, a statement bindi or even a simple white kurta. It is always that one thing in the entire ensemble that makes them stand apart.”
Street style is not always about following trends. Sure, a well-dressed person does exude a lot of confidence but such things are widely subjective.
Samidha Sharma, of www.streetstyleindia.blogspot.in does feel that though India can never compete with its global counterparts, it is the sheer honesty of bloggers who make an effort to start from the beginning. She says, “One can’t really pick out one uniform way of describing street style. However, I think with affordable brands such as Forever 21 and Zara, the Indian fashion scene is changing. Fashion, in a way, has become more democratised.”
Though many fashion critics, including the acclaimed fashion writer Suzy Menkes, have openly argued about the quality of such self-taught bloggers, the huge popularity of such unique concepts cannot be ignored. Rajani agrees, “Blogging is one thing, spotting people on the streets is quite another. I think it’s a moment of absolute inspiration. It is about creative involvement with people and their culture.”
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