The Style & Direction Portraits

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Consider this narcissistic piece of content a Christmas gift from us to you. I’m sure you’ll love it 😉

I’ve always enjoyed viewing lookbooks and editorials. For brands and shops, it’s a way to show garments in action– how they are intended to be worn, ideas on how to pair them together, and at times, the life you could have (or should have) while wearing them. It is a vehicle for a brand’s POV usually when it concerns new product, whether it was a seasonal buy or an unveiling, done to provide some life to garments. The exercise in creating a lookbook and editorial seemed fun, and I’ve always wanted to have a hand in one. Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity outside of 1-2 portraits or a string of product shots.

Obviously, it’s a bit hard to do a lookbook as an individual person. I (Ethan Wong) have no product to give you, no clothes to sell or make. A collection of fit pics may be considered inspiration, but to me, a lookbook requires an editorial vision or at least a theme. For brands is usually centered around a season or a specific product, which I don’t have. While I understand the marketing (and creative) need for a lookbook, I never felt like it was necessary content for me to make since I wear an outfit everyday. Even if I could just generate a look book for fun (as many other content creators do), I also don’t like multiple outfit changes in a day. I prefer to wear one “main” outfit a day and wear it for as long as possible (context allowing). If I have another idea for an outfit, I simply add it to the backlog to wear on a different day.

But perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. A theme doesn’t have to be product focused. And outfits don’t need to be so serious and utilitarian (i.e for immediate wearing) all the time. Maybe I need to take a page from my own essay (specifically on fit pics) and think of a lookbook as a celebration of a POV. It’s better to think of it as a public record of an outfit (or multiple outfits), a commemoration of what we do as a hobby: wearing clothes we think are cool.

So after eight years of blogging and five years of podcasting with my best friends, we decided to do one: The Style & Direction Lookbook Portraits.

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The photoshoot serves celebration of what I’ve enjoyed throughout my entire menswear journey, as well as for Spencer and MJ. Since it was our first time doing something like this, the theme was simply to be photographed in outfits that feel like “us”. Obviously everything we wear on the daily feels like us, but it was definitely a small challenge to distilling our style into a few select outfits. This was a portrait session, an occasion.

What you’ll see below is a consolidation of [almost] everything we’ve enjoyed in menswear over the years. Fedoras, fun socks, sportvests, big pants, DB jackets, OCBDs, spearpoints, berets, geometric ties, rayon sportshirts, low vamp loafers, milsurp, brown checked jackets, workwear, and Safincore. While all of this is definitely “us”, we still wanted to show off the variety and aesthetic versatility our style has: something formal, something casual, something in between, all incorporating facets of menswear. It’s fun to see how much things have been consistent over the years, as well as what has been newly canonized to our style toolchest. There are definitely parallels across our outfits but if you look at the details, you’ll know that these outfits are distinctly Ethan, Spencer, and MJ. Hell, MJ’s use of color is definitely something unique to him, at least compared to how Spencer or I use color.

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Thanks for shooting this Jon!

To be honest, the inception behind this shoot wasn’t really interesting at all, despite my pretentious introduction. It really came about when we were having dinner with my friend Jon, who some of you may recognize from old blog post during my grad school years. He’s an amazing photographer and we realized that during our nearly decade long friendship that we’ve never had a portrait session. I’ve always told him I never really needed it as I was satisfied with my fit pics in the back yard or the occasional faux-editorials from museum visits or just well, hanging out. But he convinced me (mainly because he wanted to get back into portraits…and hang out with us) and so here we are. I do wonder if he also wanted to do his own take on menswear photography. He is a budding menswear enthusiast after all (I guess my years of friendship were influential)!

It was actually surprising at how much I enjoyed this. Typically I don’t like to do multiple outfit changes just for a photo. Perhaps this is because Jon is one of my best friends and photographing with him just feels like we’re hanging out, instead of a stranger shooting me. Or maybe it’s the fact that all of us know that this is just for fun and is utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things. This is a hobby that we all enjoy. There are no products for purchase or anything that we’re trying to convince you to do. It’s just a celebration of our own style and self-masturbatory images for us (and you, the reader) to look at fondly.

If there is any intent with these portraits (which there obviously is), it’s that we hope you get the ethos of what the blog and podcast has been about: that menswear is fun and something to enjoy. Despite the overarching looks of tailoring, ivy/trad/prep, milsurp, workwear, and general vintage, there is still personality in the details. Not meant to be unique, but because we enjoy our clothes in the way that we want to. There are commonalities as much as there are differences. Taste and cool come to play most at the individual level, where it’s all about looking exactly the way you want to look.

And this is what we like to look like. At least on that particular day. Obviously there are other things in the canon that should be here, like bucket hats, grey suits, Alpine style, or solid knit ties. There isn’t even any black tie in this! Maybe this just means we need to do another one. 😉

The portraits were taken by Jon Hwang while the rest (the candids and BTS) were shot by me on digital and film.

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Candids and BTS

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Don’t forget to support us on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. Catch us when we occasionally stream on Twitch or watch the clips on Youtube (like our rundown of SadHead Sunday, where you guys get to submit your fits for discussion).

Oh and don’t forget, we do a podcast every two weeks!

Buh-bye!

 EthanMWong | StyleandDirection

The Podcast is produced by MJ.

Big thank you to our top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Philip, Shane, Jarek, Henrik , and John.

2 comments

  1. Mthobisi Magagula · December 20

    Wow this was a very fabulous blog post Ethan, I really enjoyed it and I can relate to what you said here about having fun and enjoying being photographed with your best friends, that makes the work less strenuous.

    Also, I am happy that you guys are launching a campaign together, all the best with that Project.

    Moreover, I can also say that your journey in menswear was a success and quite fondly appealing for the readers of this blog.

    Happy Holidays🌲🌲🙏

    Like

  2. Pingback: On Menswear “Evangelism” | a little bit of rest

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