Interview: 6 Minutes Spent With The Sartorialist

In the blur that is New York Fashion Week, street style photographers can often be spotted weaving in and out of parked cars outside of shows, searching for that perfect shot. Their job, capturing beautiful and spontaneous fashion, officially makes them the slipperiest species in the industry — the most elusive (and most sought-after), of course, being The Sartorialist.

After a few attempts of trying to snag an interview Scott Schuman at multiple shows, I hit a stroke of luck. Standing outside the back end of Milk Studios after the Ohne Titel show, there he was — neither shooting nor speaking to anyone, just standing around waiting for (I presume) his girlfriend and fellow street style pioneer, Garance Dore.

Thanks to the good timing, I was able to pick his brain for exactly 6 minutes — here's what The Sartorialist had to say about the future of fashion blogging, the fashion industry's relationship with blogging, and the evolution of street style photography:

IFB: How do you think fashion blogging has changed the way the general public and fashion industry digests fashion?

The Sartorialist: I think the only big change is that there is more local fashion coverage. There's bloggers all over the world, whether it's in small towns across America or Chile or Bangladesh… Newspapers only devote “x” amount of space to fashion. I think it puts a local spin on overall fashion — a local voice.

Do you think that street style photography has changed the way the fashion industry predicts trends?

Let's be honest, all the stuff we see on the sites is already in the stores. If anything it's a trend that's over. For me, when I'm shooting, I'm not reporting, I'm shooting how I feel. I'm trying to take an interesting portrait of a person or take a photo of a well-dressed moment… By the time [an item] hits the store that trend is already over.

What I think it really does do is help people in the industry see what people are really buying. It's like, wow, that trend really made it onto the backs of people, or those shoes really made it on to people's feet… I don't think it so much influences trends as it documents what actually ended up happening.

With the recent over-saturation of street style on so many blogs and websites, how to you think it will change? What do you think is the next step?

It's as easy as from the very first day: the thing that will set you apart is good content. It doesn't matter how big or how small. I think blogs were able to prove that you can be one person, and if you really have a strong point of view and communicate it through words or images, you can win a CFDA award, you can publish a book, you can have a strong voice — but you actually, literally, need to have a strong voice. Just because someone says something doesn't mean it's interesting, you have to put it in context and create an interesting point.

I think a lot of people say blogs have democratized fashion, but I don't know if that's necessarily true. I think it's created a lot more voices, but also a lot more noise. A lot of people say the ground work has already been set as to who the important bloggers are, but it's kind of like music, you know? One guy with a guitar can mean more to people than an entire symphony.

The next step, hopefully, is more blogs with an unique, interesting, and well-informed point of view. And I think that can happen anywhere in the world. You could be from Nebraska. You know, I'm from Indiana — so it was very hard to get information. I had to really learn how to get information. Now the information is so easy, I think if you can figure out how to digest it, even if you don't go to the shows, since there are so many visuals now, if you are able to analyze what's going on and have a point of view, you could be a star tomorrow.

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15 Responses

  1. Zoobia

    I like that he doesn’t overemphasize the importance or influence of bloggers here, despite being considered one himself. And I agree with a lot of what he says here. The blog world has exploded with fashion blogs, but there is a lot of noise, as he states. I think it’s important to support people who are being unique and true, and not just copying Rumi or whoever.

  2. TerranceJ

    Schuman has always had an interesting take on the industry. I can agree with most of what he’s saying, especially considering his stance on blogging locally. Here in Decatur, I’m still learning about ways to cover local trends and the like, so this really confirms what bloggers should aim for as their next big step.

      • TheSaleRack

        He doesn’t say that anything about magazine trends. He says “…the stuff we see on the sites is already in the stores. If anything it’s a trend that’s over. “. Meaning the street style shots fashion bloggers are taking & posting are trends that are already over because that clothing is already in stores.

  3. Rhythm and Ruffle

    Loved his view! It’s amazing a guy with SO much success can still be so open minded; admitting that if bloggers who are relatively new today, find a unique angle and stick to it, they too can be well known tomorrow. Very encouraging. I used to think while clicking through fashion blogs – everyone is copying so and so. But that’s not true. It seems like what a lot of bloggers are doing is playing it safe – they’ve got original talent but they just need to use it! Forget popularity, comments, chic points, etc. – it will come in time and when it does, you will actually be able to enjoy it, knowing it’s because they like you for you. <3

  4. Ashley Garner

    Scott Schuman is always such a great individual to interview when it comes to forging of online and published media. I feel like his philosophy towards shooting is very much what photography was about in the very beginning, like Henri Cartier Bresson. In that respect he is also so articulate and analytical on how “street style” influences the fashion industry today and what makes a blogger well known (or eventually well known). One of the points made constantly at the IFB Conference this year was the importance of having your own unique, authentic, and as Mr. Schuman said, strong voice. Being a blogger that only posts about the free designer things they got, or how amazingly fabulous their lives are is a niche that will eventually die out, or at least not have as large of a gathering as I feel it has now.
    If you are a blogger interested in creating a career out of it, or out of the skills you need to have as a successful blogger (photography, styling, editing, visual direction, and possibly journalism) then you also must be able to filter all of the data that is at the source of your fingertips, and must be able to do so in a clear and relatable manner to your audience. If you are able to do this then as Mr. Schuman stated, “One guy with a guitar can mean more to people than an entire symphony.”
    Great interview for only 6 minutes!

  5. Manuela

    I agree. Being inventive and original, it is, always was, the key to success in fashion. I like the dicton ” Don’t imitate, innovate”, and I live by it 🙂

  6. Emily Ulrich

    I think it’s incredible he was able to make so many concise and thoughtful comments in just six minutes. His note on buying and setting trends is ironic, considering as bloggers so many of us seek to push beyond the border of trend and create a unique style. I don’t think he’s wrong–but just because a certain trend is over, doesn’t mean it won’t inspire new trends, given an innovative styling method. It’s all a matter of reworking the reappearance. I think the big name bloggers can help businesses predict what will stick, while the more local, lesser known bloggers are the product of what stuck.

  7. JuliaTopaz

    “What I think it really does do is help people in the industry see what people are really buying. It’s like, wow, that trend really made it onto the backs of people, or those shoes really made it on to people’s feet… I don’t think it so much influences trends as it documents what actually ended up happening.”———–

    Errrrr… don’t sales reports do that? And more accurately/informatively?
    Street style is much more like “customer appreciation” photos than documentation of sales.

    I can’t really take Scott Schuman seriously after that legendarily conceited interview he gave for The Talks (

  8. MsK NY

    I am so glad I read this, great interview!
    Good content, local point of view, documenting trends – he is so spot on!

  9. moiminnie

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m literally swept by his words. He’s so right about the trends and the same perspective can be used on bloggers – when it hits 1547966 blog, it’s already old news. There are just so many copycats in the world of blogging atm, I really can’t believe it. How hard can it be to just show your true colors people?? A lot of people can like the same stuff, but how you present it is the key! So start being yourself! Thanks so much, Chelsea, for the interview!


  10. Nancy M.

    Love that we can make a difference in our own immediate area featuring a start-up boutique or new designer. Branching out in your own hometown and creating unique, collaborative content is super important to the Fashion Blogging community.