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The Scholar of Street Style

By Dayna Evans
Office of University Communications

July 24, 2014


Brent Luvaas, PhD

Brent Luvaas, PhD

Perched at the entrance of Lincoln Center, on the grand plaza that leads into the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tent, Luvaas counted fewer photographers on the sidewalks this year snapping photos of the models, magazine editors, buyers and celebrities who swarm the annual event.

No doubt the sub-freezing temperatures that marked Fashion Week this year kept many photographers away, but Luvaas also attributes the cooling of the scene to an industry backlash.

This year, event organizer IMG issued 20 percent fewer invitations in an effort to reduce the hoards of photographer-bloggers — and the circus-like, sidewalk spectacle they’ve created — on the plaza.

Luvaas, an assistant professor of anthropology in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been chronicling the creative ecosystem outside the Fashion Week tents for years, collecting observations for his forthcoming book, “Street Style Anthropology (Bloomsbury Publishers).

While most photographers focus their lenses on the catwalk or shoot glossy editorial spreads for fashion magazines, street-style photographers (Luvaas’ term) document the everyday style of “ordinary” people on city streets and post the images in their blogs. Some of the best known among them, such as Liisa Jokinen of Hel Looks, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist and Yvan Rodic of Face Hunter, have built huge online audiences.

To Luvaas’ eye, their place in the fashion world is an intriguing, contested space. Where is the line between “insider” and “outsider” fashion photography? What are the broader implications for the democratization of fashion, photography and creative work?

Continue reading: Drexel Magazine