Now Reading
A conversation on authenticity and personal recognition through clothing with photographer Adam Katz Sinding

“This is not a fucking street style book” is Adam Katz Sinding first book on the evolution (involution?) of an industry well rooted in personal image and self projection through what you wear most explicity than the regular non-fashion-biased folk. We had a conversation about life and work on the streets during the book’s presentation at the Jet store in Mexico City.

AKS: The fucking elevation man, I was on the phone with my mom and I was walking and I was like: “mom can you google what the elevation is here,” it’s like 7,000 feet and I was like: “wow, damn!” So I just didn’t feel like it.

JPJ: I think its hard for airplanes to land, I told you yesterday I think, I’m scared of flying, but I fly so much.

AKS: Me too.

JPJ: Really? What do you do?

AKS: I sleep. 

JPJ: How?

AKS: I just  knock out or I start sweating like crazy, because I’m so scared…

 JPJ: I have some questions for you, now you got a little bit of the vibe of the city and you were walking around and you, I guess experienced as much as you could in one day—

AKS: Yeah, and I’ll see more tomorrow as well.

JPJ: Did you find any specific, any particularity, sort of differences in the way that the Mexicans dress, versus other places where you’ve been?

AKS: Hmm well I mean, in the neighborhood where I’m staying, everybody dressed like Europeans for the most part, it’s like the same as in Madrid for the most part. Everybody is very normal, but like in a nice way, but I haven’t seen anything that really stood out. For me it’s more interesting to like see the guys lining up at the taco truck or you know  these places where its real you know? Like the workforce or like  the people going for their lunch break those are the interesting little pockets, where I think that kinda  summarizes the feel for the city a little bit more. You know the same thing, I was in Kiev walking through one of the  areas in the apartment block, where you see the real people and I think that’s so interesting, because thats’ the real barometer for how people really are and the wealthier demographic can walk in tennis or buy whatever they want, or dress in Parisian, or dress like a New Yorker, or somebody from LA, whatever, that’s not terribly interesting to me… it’s more interesting to see how the real people dress.

JPJ: You got to see the Mexicans who were standing at the taco stand, were they dressed in a specific way?

 AKS: No, in how I would expect. A lot of juxtaposition just wearing clothes right, like they don’t really think about it. They wear jeans, or pants, or sweatpants. You know, whatever, jeans sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hat, no hat, it’s just clothes, they wear clothes for the purpose that clothes were invented for, to protect your body. I also find it very interesting how many people I see wearing winter coats here, when it’s 21 degrees, but as I got closer to downtown it became like— but then you could be again anywhere in Europe. I don’t know, I find it interesting that on the sides of the streets you have these mayors corporations selling, and then the people on the street for the most part don’t seem to have the money to buy what’s in those stores and it’s really interesting to me because in Paris most people walking down the street could pop in any store and buy what they want. Also, I have to say today there was that manifestation on the square of all these farmers and stuff like that, so I think that’s probably a slightly different demographic that would normally be there but I don’t know—

JPJ: Yeah, you said something very interesting, how the  people that you saw today were wearing clothes in the way that clothes were meant to be worn, just as protection. I’ve always thought, and a little bit of  the ethos of the magazine is that I believe that clothes become part of our identities…

AKS: Of course, absolutely.

JPJ: And specially men, or most men, not necessarily me or you, but most men have a more limited availability or range of clothes that they can wear, because it’s not like we are going to go wearing feathers—

AKS: You can dress like this, or you can dress like this, and there’s not that many  other options.

JPJ: Exactly, but I also think that even for people who cannot afford or who do not have access to the clothes you are speaking about, I think there’s also a decision process, like a decission making process, when you wake up, even when that decision has to be cued by the things that are clean or the things that you own, or whatever…

AKS: Right, yeah, absolutely. You can tell that all those people had some kinda personal style, it’s not like they were just wearing clothes that they found in the garbage can. This guy I saw, there was a men wearing normal jeans, normal button up shirt, he had a cowboy hat on and then he had these sandals, these crossed strapped pony hair sandals and his toe nails were disgusting, it was awesome, but he had these pony hair sandals… totally impractical… so I thought that was so cool, because that is definitely a style thing, right?

JPJ: How can you tell when someone is a playing dress-up, not only outside the shows, like even here, when somebody is playing dress-up or when someone is an original. I guess it’s intuition right?

AKS: Yeah, it’s intuition, but it’s also, if somebody’s, let’s say for example if you see a woman and she got her lips all pumped up and fake boobs, whatever she’s wearing, it’s also an attention getting thing that sounds very chauvinistic to say, but I mean, in a way she’s obviously very critical and  very aware of her image, and generally speaking I’ll think that every aspect of her is to portray this kind of peacock kind of thing. It’s the same as when you got to Pitti and it’s 38 degrees outside and there’s men outside with a three piece suit on and they have a coat over their shoulders and I’m wearing shorts and a tank-top and dripping sweat, and they’re coming outside for 5 minutes to smoke their cigar, to have their photo taken and they go back inside, and I’m just looking at these guys and thinking what is wrong with you?

JPJ: Yes!

AKS: I don’t care if it’s linen, you’re boiling.

JPJ: No, no, no, no, specially because they are wearing felt hats, boots and a cane, too!

AKS: I don’t know, even when people change their clothes at fashion week I get pissed off. You don’t have to! Yes, I get that is a respectful thing to wear the designer to their show, but let’s be reasonable, if I have to take somebodies photo, or if somebody wants me to take their photo eight times a day because they are going to eight different shows, in eight different full looks, I feel like there’s no integrity anymore, the people who dress for themselves are the people who are too busy to stop and have a photo taken, it’s the people who are going to their next meeting and the people who have their own life and they dress that way because they feel like that’s actually who they are and their clothes it’s just an expression, a tool that they use, too. If you are a stylist, I think that whatever you are wearing, generally speaking, is you selling your ability not only to style yourself, but anybody, but if you are a blogger, then you are showing what you are capable of wearing, what you are capable of putting together. I always use Ana Dello Russo as an example, because Anna will wear Dolce & Gabbana to this show, and then one hour later she’ll come to Rick Owens wearing Rick Owens and those are two different women, completely different women, the women who wears Rick does not wear Dolce& Gabbana, she will not even look in the window when she walks past the store.

JPJ: Definitely.

AKS: So what’s the point you can wear Rick, and you can wear Ann Demeulemeester, and you can wear Haider Ackermann, and you can wear Dolce, and you can wear Versace? Those are different lives that you are selling, one woman lives in a palace and the other one lives in a bunker, so it’s like, of course she can buy whatever she wants, she can wear whatever she wants, but it diminishes the allure of—

JPJ: Of personal style, no?

AKS: Exactly.

JPJ: It’s now like being a model, you can wear whatever as long as you can wear it well, but it doesn’t represent an identity, I think.

AKS: But I’ll use you as an example, because you are wearing  something totally different than what you wore last night, but you are wearing it in the same way as what you wore last night. You are wearing two completely different things. You were wearing Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein yesterday, right?

JPJ: Yeah…

See Also

AKS: That’s a very avant-garde conceptual label and today you are wearing a suit, but you are wearing both in the same way. That shows personal style, you could’ve worn yesterday some baggy jeans, and some chunky sneakers, and had the shirt all buttoned up all cholo style and  today come back with the suit all button up, and wearing them both in the same way, and that shows that you have the ability to go— 

JPJ: To go through life?

AKS: Yeah and wear different kind of clothes but in the same aesthetic, and you wouldn’t walk in and buy a full look of Undercover, probably, because, it’s just a different vibe… That’s why I wear the same, I have a million hoodies, a million pairs of black pants, and a million sneakers because they all work together and I don’t have to think about it, because I don’t have the ability to do what you’ve done between yesterday and today. I don’t have the ability to take these clothes off the hanger and then put those clothes back in the hanger and have them be different, you  know? I have to change my t-shirt and wear the same pants, maybe put a different hoodie on, but still have the same pants, change the sneakers, then the next day change the pants, and like everything has to be interchangeable for me, but it all has to be in the same vein.

JPJ: No, but it also fits your lifestyle too, you know?

AKS: It has to.

JPJ: If you are traveling all over the world, and you are having as few suitcases as you can, right?

AKS: Yeah and when I’m home in Copenhagen, I spend a lot more time thinking of how I dress, but I still have this one full aesthetic to pick from, and I only do that to not make me think about it too much, I guess, ’cause I don’t really care that much anymore.

JPJ: You ended the question with the word anymore, and that’s very important because I think it speaks about progress or change, because before you were saying about how people who are bloggers, and then they become someone probably with a different profession or something, like when you start going to the shows you want to be noticed because it’s also an experience.

AKS: Absolutely man, but may I interrupt you really quick? My first fashion week, and I have not told anybody this, but my first fashion week I went to Lincoln Center wearing Rick Owens pants, which was normal for me, Damir Doma sweater, a Rick Owens blanket wrap, Rick Owens mens wedges and a Dumb and Dumber cashmere beanie, and some glasses I can’t remember, and I felt like that was me at that time and now I look  back at photos and I’m like, oh men, but for years I dressed in this things that looked cool, but they didn’t work for my lifestyle. You know the brand Carol Christian Poell?

JPJ: No.

AKS: It’s this Austrian designer based in Milan, it’s very artisanal, similar vein as this like witty shoes and things like that, and he makes this 7,000 dollar leather jackets, which I somehow told myself I needed to have four at one point in a time, different kinds and they are so uncomfortable to wear because they’re made of  bison leather and horse and  cordovan and things like that and you bruise, you actually bruise your arms—

JPJ: You cannot fold your arms?

AKS: Yeah, and the dye will come down and stain your skin and my toes would be stained black and I would wear side zipped black boots, and they would dye my feet for months. For months my feet would be black, and so I had to evolve passed that, because it was unpractical. Sorry to interrupt.

JPJ: No, no, no, no, that’s what I’m talking about, the first time that you go, you want to be noticed, but then the more experienced you are, and the more exposed you’ve been to these things, you are ok with not having your photo not taken and I guess that’s also what makes it a little bit more genuine, because the way that you dress is not for anyone, but for yourself.

AKS: The only time that I ever really felt designer clothes understood who I was, was early Dior Homme, Hedi Slimane, that it was t-shirt and jeans perfected in this hyper rock and roll type of way, I was really inspired by Seattle also, so it  was the perfect fit for me and then I wasn’t skinny enough but I lost a ton of weight to be able to wear it, but that was the only time I really loved Dior Homme, and  then he kinda went off, he started going more—

 JPJ: Glam.

 AKS: Glam and more British pop, and like, and it went away from the story that I wanted to tell, jeans don’t last forever, T-shirts don’t last forever, so I blow through these jeans and all of the sudden… Levi’s, I mean all jeans are modeled after Levi’s anyway, and with Levi’s I don’t care if I destroy them.