In the film, The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated Anna Wintour surrogate gives her comparatively frumpy assistant, Anne Hathaway, a lesson in fashion freewill: it doesn’t exist for her. Streep’s character is able to trace the lineage of Hathaway’s choice in sweater that day back to a series of trends that she and other members of the high-end fashion world cognoscenti had a hand in starting. For the last 20 years, though, one photographer has been revealing how we also take our cues from what’s out on the street.
The Netherlands answer to Bill Cunningham, Hans Eijkelboom started photographing the emerging patterns of urban pedestrians back in 1993. His quest to capture uniformity as it unfolded brought him to bustling cities such as New York, Shanghai, Paris, and Amsterdam. Some of the most clear-cut cases of contagious fashions are documented in Eijkelboom’s book, People of the Twenty-First Century, which uses candid photos to show similarly dressed people in close proximity at a fixed point in time.
As the Guardian reports, Eijkelboom process involves secretly shooting on crowded blocks around large shopping centers. With a camera hanging around his neck looking inactive, he would actually take the pictures using a rigged-out trigger located in his pocket. Sneaky, but efficient. Although the images that come out of this exercise do indeed show off a herd mentality, they also do hint at an instinct for flair. Everybody captured here may be wearing some garment, or a combination of them, that appears very popular, but they also tend to put their own spin on it.
Have a look through more pictures from the series in the slides above.
[h/t: My Modern Met]