Photographer Ari Seth Cohen’s website, Advanced.style, was inspired by two strong women in his life: his paternal grandmother, Helen, who was often mistaken for a movie star, and his maternal grandmother, Bluma, who taught him about art and fashion.
Taking a cue from Helen and Bluma, Cohen’s site features an almost daily digital parade of stylish seniors from around the globe—people like Pattie Gerrie of San Francisco, who sports hot pink-rimmed glasses and a peacock feather skirt, and Colleen Heidemann, who rocks a black sequined jumpsuit in the streets of New York City.
Advanced.style focuses on fashion plates of a certain age—mostly women, and a few men, who despite being in their 70s, 80s or 90s don’t just "wear nice clothes," but go several steps further by choosing bold colors and tailored cuts. These are people who use clothing to express a universally sought-after, but rarely achieved, state of being—the state of confidence—and in so doing offer an inspiration to all.
"As a young person, our ideas on aging often aren’t informed by such vibrancy, experience, and wisdom," says Cohen.
Cohen launched Advanced Style in 2008 after moving from the west coast to New York City, where well-dressed people turn almost every corner. At first, his photography was mainly a hobby. He didn’t even own his own camera. "I borrowed my roommate’s camera," says Cohen. "I just started walking the streets, shooting pictures of these people."
Soon, Cohen was posting his photos on Blogspot. "I wasn’t expecting it to go anywhere, but it was a great free platform and there wasn’t any risk," remembers Cohen.
His photo collection grew, dozens of new images a day, each representing a unique, eye-grabbing surprise—like big patterned prints artfully mixed with even bigger patterned prints, and accessories such as hats and jewelry with unexpected shapes and proportions.
The world took notice, turning the no-risk proposition into an entrepreneurial venture powered by social media and the Internet.
"I started this as a personal project and it turned into a career," says Cohen. "I’m probably the world’s only exclusive fashion photographer of older people."
Eight years later, the brand that Cohen created almost by chance has spawned two photo books: Advanced Style and the just-released Advanced Style: Older & Wiser; as well as an adult coloring book, documentaries, and photo shoots for Coach, H&M, Vogue Australia and the Italian publication IO donna. Cohen also has regular speaking engagements, consulting gigs for brands, and collaborations with companies including a line of hearing aids for Audicus. Most recently he shot an ad campaign for Bon Marche with one of the most well-known fashionistas of a certain age, Iris Apfel (age 94).
Cohen’s content is so unique, and in demand, that he got a late jump on creating his own web domain. "I was so busy being a content producer that I just didn’t have the time," he explains. But, with the release of his second book in 2016, Cohen realized that he needed to establish a URL—a digital home base for his past work as well as future extensions—that could represent his burgeoning brand better than his hard-to-remember Blogspot URL.
He was disappointed to discover that Advancedstyle.com was already taken. Considering alternatives, he wanted to stay close to the name of his blog and books, but he rejected the idea of creating a dot-net or dot-org ("Dot-net sounds old-fashioned to me," says Cohen, without irony.)
In the end, he chose Advanced.style—a name that clearly stuck to his content’s roots, identity, and just sounded right: a forward-thinking URL for an unconventional brand. ‘Dot-style’ (.style) is one of hundreds of new "not-com" domain extensions now available to businesses and brands looking to stand out and better define themselves to the digital world.
In the future, Cohen wants to explore ways to tell more complex stories about people who live in defiance of their physical age. A good example is someone like Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 97-year old who teaches yoga, wears high heels everyday and competitively ballroom dances. He is also considering creating a book that shares stories of senior romance and love. Cohen is confident that there’s an audience because the inspiring message beneath his content appeals to all people—not just the elderly.
"A lot of younger people see my photos and say they can’t wait to be older," says Cohen. "And older people tell me they feel like this is permission to dress up and feel good instead of having to feel invisible."
As each success leads to the next, Cohen says that establishing a brand identity and URL is just like any other aspect of building a creative business.
"Sometimes the process of creating something leads you on a path," he says. "I’ve been shooting street style for the last eight years, and now I’m looking into the lifestyle of people and thinking about what to do next. You always have to be adaptable. You always have to come up with new ideas."
To explore the expanding world of domains, visit Name.kitchen for a menu of new "not-com" options and a search bar to help design your perfect website name.
This article was created for and commissioned by Name.Kitchen, and the views expressed are their own.