The Sartorialist – the ultimate street style journal
According to Scott, the fashion world has far too long celebrated extravagant and impractical designs, thereby distancing itself further and further away from the men and women out there in the streets. "I intend to recreate an interaction between fashion and daily life," says the blond-haired man, who is dressed entirely in dark blue. Even the mineral water he orders at Le Pain Quotidien on Broadway, just a stone's throw away from his atelier, arrives in a blue bottle. According to Scott, stylishness is not about how fat your wallet is. "Whether, like today, I'm wearing a generic brand such as J. Crew or something by an exclusive label like Attolini doesn't make a difference to me as long as the quality is right," Schuman says. Currently, as one of the most sought-after fashion photographers in the world, he sits in the prestigious front row at fashion shows from Tokyo to Milan and from Stockholm to New York.
I like to wear a lot of blue, it makes my life much easier.
Scott grew up in Indiana – in what he describes as your typical, hum-drum American childhood – and nothing back then indicated that one day the eyes of the world's fashion capitals would be focused on him. "Clothes were something you had on so you weren't naked," he says with a good-natured grin. Like other boys his age, he was mainly interested in baseball and football. Then puberty struck, and Scott developed an interest in girls. "Back then I noticed that fashion was a way of standing out in the crowd. Not that I wore way-out things, but I did dress differently from the other guys at high school. And apparently the girls liked it – at any rate it helped me get a date or two!" He attended tailoring courses, and read GQ and Vogue instead of sport magazines and, after college, found footing in the world of fashion. In the year 2005, however, he withdrew from the fashion industry to raise his daughters. But life as a stay-at-home Dad did not suit this live wire of a man. He and his partner separated, and Schumann launched his photo blog, thereby paving the way for a triumphant return to the fashion business.
You’re in a nice position in life if you can take a little time to think about what you want to wear. There are a lot of people who don’t have that opportunity.
Thousands of photographers upload their pictures to the Internet, and spend zillions of hours tweaking their blogs during the long hours of the night – but they are rarely discovered by a wider public. So why has Scott been so successful with his images? He thinks, in part, this may have to do with a sense of style and taste that he remembers observing in his parents. Two ordinary, hardworking middle-class Americans from the Midwest, they both had a certain flair according to the 43-year-old photographer. His mother managed to decorate their home beautifully on a small budget, while his father made short films and wrote copy for companies. Though the publicity texts or the instruction manuals he produced were by their very nature not a great artistic challenge, Schuman senior always came up with something special. "Once he received an assignment from a funeral parlor to write a brochure about how to buy a coffin. He did it so well that they gave him the "best salesperson of the year award," Schuman relates laughingly. His father also had a knack for listening to people, understanding what they said and reproducing their ideas in a clear and understandable way.
And it would appear that the father passed this skill down to his son. Scott's photographs are never artificial, never overcharged or orchestrated; instead, they depict "real people" who anyone might run into on the street – people with a certain something, not necessarily style, but a je ne sais quoi that Schumann manages to capture with his lens. The photographer, himself, cannot pinpoint what it is either. "I grab my camera, jump on my bicycle and ride through the streets looking for subjects and moments that inspire me." On a good day he might achieve four or five portraits, but he is not always that successful. Sometimes he comes home without having shot a single image that is worth publishing on his blog.
Its title, The Sartorialist, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It could stand for "the search for elegance," or be a list of those who set a certain sartorial benchmark. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the blog daily and the images easily receive over one hundred comments. Scott Schuman has definitely proven that blogs can be successful and, in doing so, has become the first blog celebrity. Trendy magazines publish interviews with him, leading brands hire him to do photo sessions and, as American trade magazines are forecasting, the advertising revenue from his blog could this year make him the first person ever to earn a million dollars with his Internet presence – the result of extensive advertising by renowned fashion labels like American Apparel, Tiffany, Doc Martens and Ferragamo.
And that is not all. Shortly after Scott and the French blogger Garance Doré met, they fell in love and now form the first blogging celebrity couple. "I'm very proud of Garance. She's a superb illustrator and makes excellent photographs, but her real strength lies in writing. I get very envious when I read her contributions and regularly resolve to work on my literary skills," says Schuman. And Doré returns the compliments. In an interview with the magazine New York, she said that before actually getting to know Scott she had already fallen in love with his photographs. When they met for the first time in person at the Paris Fashion Week, she soon discovered her prejudices about vulgar Americans who dote on their Starbucks coffee to be unfounded. Scott himself is as fascinating as the images he shoots – and Garance, who hails from a remote part of Corsica and towers above him, fell for the actual man behind the images. Soon, their blogs began to complement each other, and Schuman now takes his beautiful girlfriend along to fashion events all over the world where she photographs the catwalk with an unerring eye for to-die-for accessories and offers a fresh take on the elite. Schuman himself prefers to photograph behind the scenes or to find his subjects on the streets that lead to the glamorous shows.
Garance and me are not very snobbish about fashion – if it’s well made, it’s good.
Their romance sounds like a modern-day fairy tale, and loyal readers think a movie about the blogging dream team is only a question of time. But that does not interest Scott much, nor does he have any time for the snarky comments from the denigrators that the successful couple inevitably attracts. "We hardly read what others write about us, and when we do, it seems like they're talking about somebody else – they don't know what we're really like."
Next week we’ll be posting an article about Garance Doré. If you haven’t done so already, you can asign up for our newsletter right here so you won’t miss any of our brand reports!
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