Since 2003, Adam Katz Sinding, probably more widely known as Le 21ème, has gathered a following of hundred thousands of people with his unique images. By finding his very own honest and unprecedented visual language, the bearded blithe spirt further managed to win over established tastemakers of the international fashion scene such as Vogue and W. Top brands like Raf Simons and Thom Browne, but also rising stars, for instance Jacquemus, Gosha Rubchinskiy or Craig Green believe in his body of work.
While the fashion industry still remains a world of exclusivity, Katz Sinding – the all-American cool dude – chronicles the continuous change of the separation of powers in his candids – a true documentarian. This month, the Copenhagen-based photographer will introduce his first publication. A perfect occasion to talk to him about the genesis of his monograph This is not a f*cking Street Style Book.
The title of your book is quite an obvious reference to your webpage slogan „This is NOT a FUCKING ‚Street Style BLOG‘!“. Isn’t the title a little bit paradoxical? Or actually deliberately ironic?
In French the word blague means joke. Therefore, I never took it seriously. Also, I just hate the word blogger. I am not a blogger! I don’t take pictures of myself in my outfits. Of course, the images I shoot are in the genre of street style. But my vision of street style doesn’t identify with the definition that magazines associate the word with, the commercial genre of street style.
Speaking about the contradiction of your aesthetic and the commercial street style genre, total recognizability of your photographed subjects and tagging all the brands in your Instagram post seems not in your favor, does it?
While every photographer shoots the same motives, full body looks that serve the purpose of consumption and support PR machineries, I try to capture moments, details, personalities. I crop people’s faces, go up close to capture the wind carrying a girl’s hair with the focus on her earring. Great compositions, cool subject matters, dynamic – that is my style.
Have you observed a change in the way of dressing over the years?
Yes, dressing has evolved into a more minimal, more casual approach for most people. I guess, overall the aesthetic has become more honest – as absurd as it might sound. Despite those who chase the fame. I try my utmost to remain naive to that.
Is it not difficult to find original personalities who equally express themselves individually and do not comply with the mainstream?
These days, one hype chases the next and everyone dresses similarly which is absolutely fascinating to document – this kind of uniformity. Whether it is at Chanel, Elie Saab, Rick Owens or Comme des Garçons. Obviously the individuals are more exciting, for instance those shy Japanese buyers at Men’s fashion week who wear brands you have never seen before. They still exist. It makes you wonder: where have I been? But the duality of both sets the tone.
Why have you dreamed about this book?
Personally, it will be this self validating object, my proof of work. Still, I flip through magazines, it is just a step up the ladder of the haptic experience. To be honest, I am tired of looking at everything on my screen. Actually, my favorite feeling is when I walk into a bookstore and see my work. Whether it is in a corner store in the United States, Iceland or Kazakhstan.
Can you describe the essence of your publication?
I suppose, it is one of these publications that you look at in a couple of years, that will either be really interesting because it is going to show you how stupid or cool people used to dress, or it is going to be super boring because it is passé. The book is definitely very focused on the now.
Apropos the now – you collaborated with one of the most influential designers of our times, Virgil Abloh. Can you tell us a little bit more about the conversation you shared?
I always have been in acquaintance with Virgil Abloh, so I simply asked him to write the foreword to the book. Honestly, I didn’t expect him to say yes. Although there was a lot of waiting involved, and Virgil’s publicist told us that he had 20 minutes for the interview, we spent 45 minutes chatting. He is a very smart dude, that I knew, but the way he delivered his message about the current state of the industry was impressive. We spoke about street culture as a hype, modern media, breaking rules, pushing boundaries and dedication.
That sounds like a lot of stress and overtime!
Indeed! We had to face several difficulties during the process. It has been far more stressful for both publishers than expected because of the releases. To get all of them was a solid month of 15 hour days. Just to find these people’s email addresses and get their agents to reply. God, what a nightmare!
Any other nerve-wracking stories that are meant to be told?
We got ASAP Rocky seven minutes before the deadline. It was nuts! For the opening photo of the book, I remember trying to get an image with seven models in it – all kids from Gosha Rubchinskiy’s show in Paris. Six of them signed the releases and then the seventh guy denied. It turned out he wanted money. When we contacted his agent, he enlisted right away.
After all that intensity do you already have next objectives for the future?
I want to travel less, work less and have more time to live my life. Hopefully, while being in a more positive financial situation. Coming back to six months travelling a year would leave a much happier mark on me. I would be much less stressed and much healthier. But maybe I will hate that eventually, too. Travelling, getting to shoot people I have never seen before is an uplifting feeling. Why would anybody in their right mind say no to that? Of course, I go! I use my job as a path to see the world and to document it in my kind of way.
Adam Katz Sinding’s monograph This Is Not a F*cking Street Style Book, publicized by MENDO and teNeues, will be released in February 2018 – featuring a foreword of Virgil Abloh – and contains around 200 color- and black-white-photographs on 224 pages.