“…street style photography—once a grassroots alternative to the mainstream, commercial fashion media—has itself become commercialized. Lots of the so-called ‘street style photographers’ often limit themselves to capture über-aware fashion peacocks outside fashion shows. It’s why the world needs more than ever a more genuine documentation of real people style.”
The foreword by ‘FaceHunter’ Yvan Rodic, clearly states what the reader of Honolulu Street Style will experience…real people and day-to-day style.
The book features an exposé of looks from the business centre to the beaches; the university through to the artsy district of China town, illustrating the globalized nature of high-street fashion; the influence of beach and surf culture, and the way in which tourism and Japanese settlement have filtered through into to the Hawai´i aesthetic.
Written text accompanies the images, drawing attention to the labels or ‘products’ that feature in each individual’s outfit— in effect, to extract context and meaning—deconstructing style and its cultural and sub-cultural references.
Although the publication is predominantly visual there are short essays in the center of the book providing historical context, fashion theory and insight into the roots of Hawai´i style; from iconic accessories and garments such as the Lei and the Aloha shirt — the latter, having made a transition from the tourism industry to an acceptable mainstay of street style— to settler and immigrant communities whose aesthetics have filtered through into Hawai´i’s visual culture; the significance (and birth) of local surf brands, and the dissemination of Asian-style tattooing popularized and disseminated to the West via U.S Navy sailor, Jerry Collins, who learnt the art of Irezumi in Japan, and later, settled in Honolulu.
Photographer Atilla Pohlmann not only selects and captures street style through his lens, but necessarily intersperses a visual study of the urban landscape with its vibrant street art, juxtaposed with the beautiful serenity of endless surf.
At first glance I was disappointed by this book. The cover image does a great deal to sell it (and it is by far my favouite), but I found the subsequent images lacked dimension and dynamism, and the side notes relating to each outfit also proved distracting, and somewhat unnecessary.
A good street style book should allow the viewer to absorb and interpret the looks through their own eyes and experience, rather than provide interpretation and meaning for them.
If anything, the style notes reinforce the ubiquitous, all-pervasive nature of fast-turn-around fashion and high street brands that are now more universally accessible than ever before. The idea of constructing a ‘unique’ identity is therefore brought about by creating dissonance, or adding personal touches in the form of objects, accessories or items that perhaps have their own story, adding greater cultural weight and complex meaning to the visual statement that belies the question: what do we wear, and why?
Primarily, Honolulu Street Style is a visual study of a contemporary city that is multicultural in makeup, yet embraces a deep-rooted Polynesian culture visible through its people and their relationship with the place they call home.
At a much deeper level it illustrates the fluidity of fashion—that style is not fixed—it is informed by our environment, the places we have traveled, and the people who have come in to our lives, prompting the reader to ask the question: what do our clothes say about our values, tradition, identity and place of belonging, and conversely, how do we use our clothes to subvert that very meaning?
Honolulu Street Style is a visual study of real people and style on the streets of Honolulu.