In conversation with The Sartorialist

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Scott Schuman’s acclaimed Sartorialist blog is very simple in concept, and all the better for it. Schuman (above right), AKA The Sartorialist, goes around the world taking photographs of eye-catching people (above left), most of whom work in the fashion trade. We met him when he was in London last week.

Esquire: Why did you start The Sartorialist?
Scott Schuman: “I used to look at all the fashion magazines but I didn’t see in them the guys who I think look really cool - maybe the old school Italian guys or just men with great style. I wanted to shoot the things that I wasn’t seeing in the magazines.”

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ESQ: What were you doing at the time?
SS: “I was a stay at home dad because I’d closed my fashion wholesale showroom in New York after 9/11. I spent fifteen years in the fashion business in sales and marketing.”

ESQ: Are the photographs re-touched or edited?
SS: “I taught myself photography back when it was shot on film so I know how to dodge and burn and all that stuff. I’m doing the things photographers have been doing for years. I’m not reporting on what people are wearing; if I see people who I think look cool I try to shoot them in the way that I see it, so if I don’t like a guy’s shoes I just won’t put them in.”

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ESQ: Who’s the best-dressed man in the world?
SS: “I never think about that. I’m interested in the idea of visual greed; I don’t care who a person is, what brands they’re wearing or whether I like their whole look. I’ll shoot just their particular collar and the way it works with their tie and pocket square. There’s a guy called Lino who has a store in Milan called Al Bazar, and he’s such a character, but I don’t want to be like him. I love the way he dresses, but in an abstract way.”

ESQ: How do you define British style?
SS: “Every city is unique. Milan really defines Italian style: slim pants with deep cuffs cropped at the ankle, slim jackets in pastel colours, it’s a very narrow look but it has a million variations. What’s unique about London is the tailored look. Here the tailored guys look different from the tailored guys in every other city, it’s down to the weight of the shirts they wear, the fact that they wear pink shirts and the way they knot a tie.”

ESQ: Has shooting for the website changed the way you dress?
SS: “I started this to try and capture the things that I wanted to see, to try and work out, for example, exactly where Italian guys’ trousers finish on the ankle.”

ESQ: What’s the one thing men can do to dress better?
SS: “If you lay all my pictures side by side what unifies these guys is that their clothes fit really well, regardless of their shape or size. There’s the right amount of cuff coming out of the suit sleeve, the right amount of shirt collar visible. Figure out your body shape and get clothes to fit. So I’d say [when you buy a suit] spend another £100 at the alteration tailors to get the fit just right, the sleeve length right, the waist suppression right.”

The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman, £19.99, is out now