Months ago Erin Wasson proclaimed Venice Beach’s homeless population to be a great resource for sartorial inspiration. Not surprisingly, the model-turned-stylist-turned-designer caught significant flack for her comments (not to mention inspiring Julia Stiles recent eco-friendly fashion line spoof). But it seems Wasson’s controversial comments weren’t all hot air. Italian Vogue has followed suit, showcasing a homeless chic-inspired cover for its September issue. Meanwhile Elle just hired a homeless internin a move that’s garnering a lot of positive press coverage. Now Scott Schuman (a.k.a. The Sartorialist) is weighing in on the matter.
Schuman posted a photo of a surprisingly stylish homeless man on his heavily trafficked blog today with the title, “Not Giving Up, NYC.” The photo comes with a fair bit of commentary: Schuman muses, “I don’t usually shoot homeless people. I don’t find it romantic or appealing like a lot of street photographers, and if you asked homeless people they are probably not to happy about their situation either.” However, in this particular situation, Schuman says, “In my quick shot I had noticed his pale blue boots, what I hadn’t noticed at first were the matching blue socks, blue trimmed gloves, and blue framed glasses. This shot isn’t about fashion — but about someone who, while down on his luck, hasn’t lost his need to communicate and express himself through style.” Intentionally about fashion or not, the photo can’t be assessed without analyzing the man in question’s outfit — one (aside from color coordinating) noteworthy for its use of layering. The man in question has cut-off jean shorts layered over heavy black pants, and a collared shirt peeking out of a knit pullover visible underneath his navy blazer, which he’s wearing open. The outfit (save for the gloves) could just as easily be spotted on guys and girls strutting down Bedford Avenue (except in the case of the latter the cut-offs would probably be sitting atop black leggings or tights). In other words, for better or worse, homeless people’s penchant for layering is as timely a sartorial trend as any. Even if a large group of people think saying so is un-PC.