The business of street style – posting about your own, capturing that of others, writing about both or either – is ubiquitous now. And mainstream. It is no longer the edgy, quirky younger sister of the more accomplished and polished older sister that is high fashion. It is a force to be reckoned with in and of itself, and what has arisen as a natural corollary to its ever expanding progression is a veritable plethora of street style icons – both the photographing and the photographed. But there were some who came before others, those who perhaps not pioneered the trend, but were certainly the first movers, and their names still remain synonymous with the term. Street style photographer Face Hunter, aka Yvan Rodic, is one of those people.
I like to capture interesting people – that could be outside a show, a music festival, or in the streets. They could be famous or homeless.
The Swiss-born international photographer has been a staple in the street style game since ’06, snapping up sartorial moments from the sidewalks of the world around. He started far before Instagram was an extension of our own hands – before, in fact, Instagram even came into existence. He began his career working in advertising with powerhouse agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett before venturing into the fashion blogging sphere, first as a hobby and then eventually as a full blown career. At the time, unlike now, a blog was not considered a plausible occupation; it was not a business; it did not make you money; it was a fun little side hobby. Of course – aside from Bill Cunningham who arguably kick-started the trend before it even had a name – the likes of fashion bloggers Leandra Medine (aka Man Repeller) and Chiara Ferragni, and other street style photographers like Scott Schumer (The Sartorialist) and Le21ème (Adam Katz Sindig) have since dispelled that notion, and Yvan Rodic fits squarely in that niche little club of the We Got There First people.
Egyptian fashion blogger Hadia Ghaleb in Aswan, Egypt. Via @Facehunter.
Since his foray into the field in 2006, the street style photographer has rapidly amassed a cult following, and published two books based on his work. His edge – aside from the established name and presence that comes with being one of the first to veer into the industry – is, even by his own definition, his variety, and his lack of focus on purely fashion. “I would say my interest is more about people,” he tells me. “I like fashion as something that is part of my cultural work. I like to capture interesting people – that could be outside a show, a music festival, or in the streets. They could be famous or homeless. I don’t specifically photograph people from the fashion industry.”
I think our minds work like the Instagram feed, because we’re never satisfied; it’s like, scroll down, scroll down, scroll down.
@fatougueyebello in Dakar, Senegal. Via @Facehunter
While many of the most well-known street style photographers out there focus on the four main fashion weeks, and outside of those time stamps, on the fashion in those same cities that host the aforementioned fashion weeks, Rodic goes out of his way to discover style in the cities of countries that are not often documented on global style platforms – Senegal, Indonesia, Panama, Kazakhstan, to name a few, as well as a slew of Arab countries including Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and of course, the UAE.
Hafiz @soantique [in collaboration with @thetehrantimes ] in Tehran, Iran. Via @Facehunter.
He does not necessarily capture the supremely stylized top editors of the world who strut down the streets of major fashion capitals, knowing full well they will be seen – and snapped – rendering those sidewalks a new kind of runway for the modern age. Instead, he captures the actual people of the country; culture feeds into his feed almost exactly as much as fashion. His platform has evolved since its inception to include architecture, street art, and most importantly, as his pseudonym suggests – faces.
I mean for me it’s just one way among others to tell a story. I don’t think photography is on its own, the goal. It’s more that I have this curiosity for understanding people and cultures globally, and photography is one way to capture it and to inspire people.
Falconry in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Via @Facehunter.
It’s something I’ve been doing since I was little, not necessarily thinking that it would ever become something professional. When I started, I sort of felt it was easy to capture and share images, without thinking that it would become a job, and then eventually things picked up – thanks to the internet. So yeah, I do a lot of photography but I don’t have any particular fetish for photography. For me, it’s more about creating a feeling inside people’s minds.
Showcasing saroual loubia (pleated baggy pants) in Algeria. Via @Facehunter
DIGITAL AGE + FASHION = ?
Well I think like everything in our lives, we are subject to a faster pace of production, consumption, inspiration, getting bored, repeat – and the same applies to fashion. I think our minds work like the Instagram feed, because we’re never satisfied; it’s like, scroll down, scroll down, scroll down. And the same way we consume inspiration, we consume clothes; you’ve seen something once you want something else. Globally, there’s this thing where people cannot be fulfilled with the same thing for long.
Swiss actress @zoepastelle at New York Fashion Week. Via @Facehunter.
In fashion, there was obviously always change but we had like a seasonal thing, so people would watch the show and then wait six months to buy the collection but you cannot ask the digital generation for that, they don’t wait 6 months for anything. If they have to they will just buy something else, or they’ll get fed up or bored already.
...blogging culture challenged the traditional magazine in a way that a whole bunch of new voices, that were not necessarily coming from the establishment, just became relevant by their power.
So with the internet or social media, people have to work at a faster pace of creation, production, and selling. That’s a huge challenges for the designers, because even if you’re the most amazing designer in the world, how many amazing collections can a designer produce a year? You can do five but then is it really going to be interesting? I think it’s very hard for big designers because they have their standard collections and then they make Cruise and pre-this, pre-that, and then they end up having 10 collections in a year, and it’s like, how can the human brain produce so many quality or inspiring collections? Somehow, we’re pushing the system to its limits.
DOWN WITH THE SARTORIAL OLIGARCHY
However, at the same time, the internet and social media and blogging have made fashion more – maybe less seen in the Arab world but in some societies – a little bit more democratic.
Historically, fashion was always only a thing for the elites. Fashion was handmade or was expensive to produce and the masses would just wear the same clothes every day. And then affordable fashion brands arrived and people were able to afford to have different looks – so that’s one part of it. The other part is that blogging culture challenged the traditional magazine in a way that a whole bunch of new voices, that were not necessarily coming from the establishment, just became relevant by their power. We can like them or not, we can care for the establishment or not. Doesn’t matter, ‘The Fashion Blogger’ influenced so many people that she has a voice. That’s a fact.
Instagram influencer @rocky_barnes during New York Fashion Week. Via @Facehunter.
In some way it’s like it’s questioning everything the ‘fashion establishment’ knew on how fashion worked; you’d spend 20 years to access to this place or show and make it to the front row, and now these girls who are less than 30 years old are sitting at the front – literally and figuratively. The ‘press’ has changed, the hierarchy has changed.
...now slowly people are understanding that bloggers are entrepreneurs and many of them are making six figures and major deals.
Additionally, in pop culture people tended to have this image of bloggers’ work as ‘well it’s blogging, like it’s not doing much’ but now slowly people are understanding that bloggers are entrepreneurs and many of them are making six figures and major deals.
Attending @ammandesignweek in Jordan. Via @Facehunter:
Essentially, with the digital age there are a lot more voices and inspiration comes from more places, even outside of fashion capitals – far, far away from fashion capitals, in fact. Because you have more access to information – and in turn, if what you share is interesting then you become an inspiration as well. So I think [the digital age] made fashion into this whole conversation instead of just a monologue, because before it was like a few magazines that would tell you what the trends are for them, and they’d be the only sources.
British model @adwoaaboah at Milan Fashion Week. Via @Facehunter.
STYLE IN THE (ARAB) CITY
I think things are shifting – globally. A very long time ago, identity was extremely different, and it was according to geography. People living in Peru and people living Egypt for instance, were on different planets. But now with the internet this whole generation is very connected and the way they dress is less typical than what you’d expect from the specific place – it’s this new generation of people that are open to the world.
Egyptian model @salmaabudeif in the El Korba district of Cairo, Egypt. Via @Facehunter.
I guess style in some countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, is quite compartmented depending on where you are. Obviously there’s a small group of people who are more privileged or can afford or are more influenced by more ‘western’ fashion, and you see them wearing things that you see in London or Paris. And then if I go to some streets, I’m like in old school Cairo, with more traditional wear. So it’s a big mix of styles.
...there’s some kind of common ground [in the style in different Arab countries] in that there’s this idea of women taking real pride in their style. I feel like it’s like essential for women to really look good and to show their femininity.
In that sense, a part of you might actually share more with someone living in another global city, like someone living in Cairo to someone living in a different bubble let’s say. I think in some ways there’s a bit less of the traditional looking style, but then you have cultural factors that emerge, depending on the country.
@marbelousb in Muscat, Oman. Via @Facehunter.
In the Arab world, of course, there are many cultural factors, especially for women, things that they need to consider when they dress. There are multiple reasons, like a religious or cultural context for example, why women maybe dress a bit more modestly. I think there are still a lot of places where women don’t necessarily dress exactly the way they want because they know they might not be seen positively, or it would make people or them feel uncomfortable.
I think there are still a lot of places where women don’t necessarily dress exactly the way they want because they know they might not be seen positively, or it would make people or them feel uncomfortable.
In general though, the women dress well here, whatever the context, they make the best out of it.
DOES THE MIDDLE EAST DRESS THE SAME?
I guess there’s some kind of common ground [in the style in different Arab countries] in that there’s this idea of women taking real pride in their style. I feel like it’s like essential for women to really look good and to show their femininity in whatever their particular cultural context is. I mean even if you live in Qatar, women will still definitely will put in a lot of effort to be as fashionable as possible.
Algerian actress and model @amel_kdr_muse in Algiers. Via @Facehunter.
So I think overall there’s a big emphasis on the idea that fashion matters, and being feminine is really important – so that’s something that I found to be common all over. I think if I were to differentiate, the Gulf countries (barring the UAE because Dubai is an anomaly) might be a subdivision.
Amel, the editor-in-chief of @paperbagg_mag in Algeria. Via @Facehunter.
I think maybe what you would see the Gulf is extremely oriental, there's a big emphasis on luxury, a lot of make up. In comparison, countries like Lebanon, Egypt and maybe Morocco are a bit more European, in terms of their style.
Jordanian designer @taniageorgedesigns at @ammandesignweek in Jordan. Via @FaceHunter.
CAN’T LIKE, ANYONE BE A PHOTOGRAPHER NOW? PHONE CAMERAS AND EDITING APPS FOR ALL
Pixels is one thing and then talent is another thing. You can still have the best camera in the world and still not be able to capture the magic of the moment. [The advent of phone cameras] does make the job of photographer potentially more accessible, so more people feel like they can try photography at least.
Taken at a gas station in the middle of the desert in Oman. Via @FaceHunter.
At the end of the day though, it's about creating a story that has a really strong feeling. There are so many platforms on social media now to fill with content, but I guess it depends on the talent and on the project, but I don't think phone camera will make [camera] photography disappear.
@filmbymashael in Bahrain. Via FaceHunter.
You can follow him on Instagram @facehunter.