Last week, The Sartorialist was in the neighbourhood, so we took the train to Belgium where Scott visited Outlet Shopping Maasmechelen Village for a book signing session. Of course we spoke with him for a little while. Digi E (who interviewed him for Glamour) was in heaven because as she photographs herself, Scott is a huge icon for her. I, Digi M, was more curious if the man she met 2,5 years ago during a blog conference at the MET museum in New York, was still the same ‘I can’t believe Vogue asked me’ stay-at-home-dad.
Meet Scott Schuman. A teeny tiny photographer from Indiana with a huge world-renown blog about style. More then 60.000 visitors surf daily to his blog to see what the most stylish people in the world are wearing. The Sartorialist grew a lot since it started and was selected as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers. He has worked with GQ, Style.com and he shot all the images for ‘The Art of the Trench’ project by Burberry. Long story short: In the world of fashion, Scott is like the Madonna of pop music.
When I met you two years ago, you looked a little overwhelmed by the success. In my eyes you thought you were just a cute, stay-at-home dad with a blog. Now the whole world knows you. Can you live with the fame and fortune?
‘I love my life right now. I travel a lot together with my girlfriend (blogger Garance Doré, TD.). We meet the most inspiring people and sleep in hotels you would get jealous of.’
Oké, but what about the fame? I didn’t get a straight answer to that question. Scott is a real American and can talk for hours and hours without getting to the point. Unfortunately I couldn’t interrupt the guy because it was a ’round the table conversation’. So hereby part 2 of his answer to my question.
‘The quality of my photos became better the last 2 years. And by shooting all these people, I know now in a split of a second, which person I want to take a picture of. If I see people on the street, I immediately know if they are inspiring to me. It’s not all about fashion. It’s about style and if they tell a story by just dressing up in the right skirt, in the right colours and patterns and with the haircut and make-up that fits them best. If you feel comfortable and self assured with your look, then I am able to shoot you. It’s about breathing your own lifestyle on a disciplined way. All these elements gives a picture a slightly deeper meaning.
And what about the clothes? Are designerlabels important for you?
No, not at all. Actually, I hate labels. It has nothing to do with style. It’s all about the mix of your clothes and the way you let them work. Most of the time I don’t even like the whole outfit, but then I fall in love with one aspect. That can be everything.
But you work for designerlabels like GAP and Burberry. And even coffee brand Nespresso. Does that fit into your opinion about labels?
I only say ‘yes’ to requests I feel good about. If they want to put the brand ‘The Sartorialist’ on their product, they have to give me full freedom. Otherwise I don’t do it. It’s very important for a blogger to be honest and transparent. It’s all about trust and integrity. Of course, I do more commercial jobs because as a photographer you have to earn your money as well, but then I work under the name ‘Scott Schuman’. Not under the name ‘The Sartorialist’.
What do you think about the whole blog phenomenon?
First of all, I don’t see myself as a blogger. I am a photographer who uses a blog to spread his work. If people want to see pictures in 3D in a few years, I will do that. So I don’t fight for the medium blog.
The challenge for bloggers nowadays is to be taken seriously. They have to understand the weight of their blog and what they do. A lot of people think they can easily start a blog. That’s not true. You have to oversee everything and get control on all the elements. That control creates consistency and I don’t see a lot of blogs on the world wide web. Most bloggers I know, just do it for making money easily and getting free stuff.
Mario Testino said about your blog:’ The place to be seen.’ Those words are exactly right. Everybody wants to be shot by you. Do a lot of people come to you with the question if you want to take their picture?
No, funny enough they don’t. And if they do I just grab my phone and say with a innocent face: I’m sorry, but my phone is ringing.
On your blog, you say: ‘If you had told me two years ago I would have a well-respected blog, a monthly page in GQ, recurring guest blogs and videos for Style.com, and countless other exciting side projects I would have kissed you.’ What do I have to tell you now to be kissed by you?
I want to build on the brand The Sartorialist. And everything I can do to upgrade my blog, I will. I just finished a pilot for a television program. I interview young designers for example, and talk with them about the way they can make their own label into a success. In the future, I maybe also want to have my own accessory label and sell my stuff online. But for that, I have to find the right partners I feel comfortable with.
Well Scotty-boy. Thanks for your time! I know you are kinda busy, travelling through all of Europe to promote your beautiful book. The impression I had of you 2,5 years ago changed. You are not that innocent anymore. Still funny, but quite alert, correct and a little arrogant at the same time. That, to me, underlined the growing impact of blogs. Bloggers are not cute fashion-addicts anymore. No, bloggers are tough businesspeople who really know what they want and how to get it done. Well, and in the end, that’s is exactly what all the bloggers dream of.