100 Ideas That Changed Street Style is the new book from style guru Josh Sims, a charming fellow that I was lucky enough to first meet when I was just a lowly intern at The Face and Arena. Since those long ago days Josh has written for a diverse roster of publications, building up a well deserved reputation for his knowledge of fashion and style. This new book takes a look at how street styles have impacted the mainstream, helped to unite people, reinforced stereotypes and created social division, with text accompanied by iconic photography by the likes of Liz Johnson Artur. 100 Ideas That Changed Street Style is a must read for anyone intrigued by the way that fashion shapes society. Josh tells me more…
When and why did your obsession with street style begin?
I can’t say it’s an obsession – sounds unhealthy – but I’ve always been interested in the cultural subtext of certain men’s fashion, especially in the UK. I was an 80s Casual so that sense of membership through sartorial detail has always been there.
What particular styles are your favourites, and why?
Mod I think did much to define modern menswear, though it’s bastard offspring skinhead is more exacting and memorable. I have a soft spot for the Japanese women’s street styles – decora, Lolita, gangaro etc. Crazy stuff.
Photo by Startracks Photo/Rex Features.
Did you struggle to differentiate between elements of any styles, and if so which ones were they?
Yes, the Japanese ones above. To outsider eyes they seem to blur into a general wackiness, especially to westerners. You have to be on the inside to see what’s what with those.
Have any styles influenced your own way of dress, and how have these influences changed over the years?
Other than the classic British men’s sub cultures – mod, two tone, skin head, casual – I can’t say they have; especially after, ahem, a certain age. You find your own uniform and tend to stick with it I think, or at least men do. Perhaps that’s just laziness.
Where do the richest sources of street style spring up from?
You mean geographically? In which case probably America is ahead on that. Culturally many tend to be fed by a shared appreciation for a certain kind of music – or some influence outside of fashion at least. The clothes are just a reflection of a shared fandom really.
In your introduction you question whether the concept of street style can still exist in a globalised fast moving digital age. If so what could replace clothing as a signifier of belonging or individualism?
I thick clothing will still play a part – the point is that we’re more and more confident in cherry picking our influences and dressing as individuals. Styles may be less underground in the future, but they will at least be our own.
Can you share with us any clues about what to expect from the next big street style, in clothing or otherwise?
One considered for the book but dropped is more current than future – it’s a kind of blend of heritage workwear and Americana in menswear. It’s been fairly niche for a few years but is now entering the mainstream.
How has fatherhood altered or changed your approach to work and life?
Well as you know you end up with much less time and even less energy, so you have to work with greater efficiency. More positively still perhaps it gives you perspective – you realise what might be fascinating and fun but perhaps nowhere near as important as you perhaps thought it was. Like street styles for example. I think you’re just happier being yourself and less concerned about what strangers think of you – a concern that fashion is in part predicated on. Maybe that’s just being older…
Photo by Liz Johnson Artur.
What are you working on next, do you have any sneak peaks you can share with us?
I wrote a book a while back called Icons of Men’s Style – about the history of the most important garments in the male wardrobe. So there’s a womenswear version of that on its way.
100 Ideas That Changed Street Style by Josh Sims is available now from Laurence King, priced £19.95.
- Kingston University Graduate Fashion Week 2015: Catwalk Review
- Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration launch party illustrations: meet Naomi Law
- Fashion Philosophy Fashion Week Poland S/S 2012 in Łódź: Street Style
- Fashion Philosophy Fashion Week Poland A/W 2011 in Łódź: Street Style at Expo
- Andrea Crews: an interview with creative director Maroussia Rebecq