Travels Across Asia Searching For Authentic Street Style
TREET STYLE used to be fun. In the early days of The Sartorialist — granddaddy of street style blogs — photographer Scott Schuman snapped natty New York City pedestrians as he found them, on the grounds of a perfectly tied scarf, a breathtaking print, or some certain sartorial instinct.
Today, the ones getting Instagrammed (by countless spawn of Schuman) are hardly paragons of effortless style. Street fashion has become a cold-blooded industry made up of people determined to be in the right place in the right clothes at the right time, often dressed head to toe in borrowed togs from a designer who gets free advertising. Calculation is so common, Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of Style.com, recently likened the business of street style to reality TV. Both, he argued “make monsters.”
NCREASINGLY these monsters are visible beyond the pavement outside Fashion Week shows. James Bent, a Singapore-based photographer who identifies with first-wave street style philosophy, has documented stylish citizens in Asia’s largest cities since 2010. Over the years, he says, his level of discernment has changed along with the mood. Even in cities like Taipei, Tokyo, and Seoul, where street style blogs are a relatively new concept, “it’s getting difficult to walk around without seeing people who expect to be photographed,” he says.