Today the New York Times published a slideshow headlined “The Stylish Men of Tumblr.” In it, men who work at the company strike dramatic, fashion-magazine-esque poses and discuss accessories like their glasses, sneakers, and, in one case, a tie worn as a belt.
Something about the pedestrian quality of some choices, and a few answers (“I don’t want to say it’s pink, but it definitely straddles that line”) combined with the stereotypical schlubiness of tech dudes (#notalltechdudes) makes the article seem like it could be, well, a wonderfully executed joke.
While that is semi-disappointing (the Gray Lady grows a funny bone!), it makes sense in context. The slideshow is part of an ongoing series in the New York Time’s Men’s Style section called “Life As a Runway” that profiles style in everyday places. Other subjects have included the Union Square Greenmarket, Afropunk Fest, and The Whitney. The idea is to show how people dress in common spaces, not to profile fashonistas. “[The series] is not about necessarily the most traditionally stylish people,” says its author, John Ortved (who has contributed to Fast Company). “It’s literally what the name says.”
Inclusion in the Men’s Style section also explains the missing stylish women of Tumblr.
Something else you might not realize if you’ve come across the link while in the “technology echo chamber” corner of Twitter: Tumblr is a fashion force. Back in 2011, as top brands were staking territory on the platform, CEO David Karp said that 180 of the top 1,000 Tumblr blogs were fashion-related. It sends bloggers to fashion week every year.
So is it a total curveball for the New York Times to profile Tumblr employees’ style choices? No. Is it still kind of funny sometimes? Well, yes.
“At times, the interview subject and I are having fun with each other,” Ortved says. “This is not fashion police.”