A conversation with The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman

NEW YORK - Scott Schuman, known in and out of fashion circles for his popular street fashion blog, "The Sartorialist," has yet to post a picture taken in Philadelphia.

But that may change Saturday as Schuman signs copies of his second book, The Sartorialist: Closer (Penguin, 2012) at The Barnes Foundation.

As he's introduced to Philly fashionistas, any unsuspecting woman (or man) - Schuman won't consider you if it's clear from your too-Boho, too-vintage getup that you are a poser - may end up featured on his blog.

That would, of course, be huge. Being photographed by Schuman is to hold status with the highest of high-fashion figures from Vogue editor Anna Wintour to entertainers Solange Knowles and Kanye West to models Anna Dello Russo and Olivia Palermo. Schuman - and his girlfriend, French photographer Garance Dore - are nearly as popular as the celebrities they shoot. (Dore will be in town today, too.)

In the seven years since Schuman launched The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.com), Schuman's daily posts have changed how the industry looks at street fashion. Unlike New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, who focuses on trends and is happy to catch someone ungracefully stepping out of a cab, Schuman's pictures are individual artistic compositions. They all look beautiful, almost timeless. And he has the statistics to prove it: His blog boasts more than $1 million in annual advertising revenue and 13 million page views a month.

Schuman, 44, worked in the fashion industry for most of his career in sales and as a showroom manager. He started taking pictures about 10 years ago when he was a stay-at-home dad.

I caught up with Schuman in New York a day after he returned from shooting fashion weeks in Europe.

Elizabeth Wellington: Does fashion run in your family?

Scott Schuman: No. Absolutely not. Style wasn't something that was talked about. We shopped at Penney's; we didn't have a lot of money.

[That's why] I don't worry about going to the parties. I don't wear status things to try to show I'm fancy. I love fashion for the artistry: how people mix colors and patterns and textures.

EW: How do you feel when you are shooting?

SS: I feel great. I'm the first generation of fashion photographers that will make more money getting ads on my site then shooting ads for someone else. I'm not saying I'll make more money than [fashion photographer] Steven Meisel, but ...

EW: What did you learn from the first book (The Sartorialist, published in 2009) that you took to the second book?

SS: The one thing I really learned is that people say fashion is speeding up ... but it's just not true. People are still inspired by my earlier photos. That tells me the consumer isn't eating up fashion and spitting it out. The stores are moving fast. The consumer is not.

EW: Are bloggers objective?

SS: I'm not a fashion journalist. I'm telling you my point of view ... When I started my blog, I based it on sports talk radio: a guy gets up there he gives you his opinion.

EW: Have you shot in Philadelphia before?

SS: I went down there once one day, and I didn't get anything.

EW: Will you shoot in Philly this time?

SS: ... Maybe we'll stay over the extra day on Sunday ... I'd love to shoot more in Philadelphia.

EW: Your shots are very diverse. Do you work at that?

SS: Nope. The truth is, when you go out and try to shoot for diversity, it lowers your bar [because you care more about who than what.] I don't care if they are old, black, white, disabled ... I shoot what I think is the most romantic good picture that I can take. ... If I like it, I'm sure others will, too.


Event details

Book signing: From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, Scott Schuman will be signing his new book, The Sartorialist: Closer, at The Barnes Foundation.

Cost: Free and open to the public

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow me on Twitter at ewellingtonphl.