"We see guys trending to tradition, so [...] guys are looking for simple and traditional surroundings." - J.P. Mastey

It's safe to say that there is an emerging segment of the men's market that is into all things influenced by the 50s and 60s. Don Draper has become an international sex symbol, tracks by bands like The Drums are getting some serious air time and the old school americana clothing trend doesn't seem to be fading out just yet. You may be wondering where all of these like minded men meet to discuss important matters and have a laugh? Well, certain entrepreneurs are hoping that it will be (like in the 50s) at the barbershop.

The metrosexual movement of the early 2000s taught men that it was ok for them to take care of themselves. In order to do so, men started buying a variety of beauty products and even went as far as to get pedicures and fake tans. Although some men continue following such procedures, others want to look after themselves in a more masculine way. Hence, the return of the barbershop.

Baxter of California, a company known for its premium mens grooming products, has recently opened a traditional barbershop in downtown Los Angeles. BAXTER FINLEY, Barber & Shop offers its customers basic haircuts and shaves and that's it. Nothing fancy. J.P Mastey, the president of Baxter, explains that their barbershop "...will not be a lounge, or a place to get spa services. We want to keep it simple and build a reputation for excellence in barbering and services." (Baxter Finley blog) They don't want to be the men's hair salon du moment. Baxter Finley wants to create a lasting impression. They're doing this by rethinking the old business model and paying attention to detail. The store layout and decor was carefully designed to create a rustic, authentic, and most importantly, masculine environment. A place run by men for men. Nothing was overlooked. Even the barbers' uniforms were reworked. Baxter Finley collaborated with Steven Alan to produce gingham shirts that are to be worn exclusively by its barbers.

Toronto has also experienced a boom in men's barbershops over the past few years. Blood & Bandages was one of the first on the scene. Roger Janes' small space, consisting of only two chairs, provides 70s Playboy magazines for customers to flip through and plays music by classic bands such as the Rolling Stones while patrons wait for a trim. Crow’s Nest Barbershop takes it a step further by offering its mostly male clientele a beer with every cut. Their 1950s style space has a jukebox blasting rock n' roll tunes, a retro cash register and old school skate decks hanging on the walls. Jon Roth, the owner of Crow's Nest, just wanted "...a place where you can come in and see other men, talk shit, have a drink, get a cut and feel like you have a place of your own." These servicescapes are the perfect places to (as they say in french) "se retrouver entre hommes".

Barbershops make customers feel comfortable. As I mentioned in my first post about the realness movement, in uncertain times people turn to what they know. In this case, they're turning to a tried and tested man's sanctuary. In a barbershop, men are cared for in a safe environment by someone they trust (a skilled barber). This sacred relationship is currently being rediscovered. Barbershops carry countless meanings and memories and therefore hold a special place in most mens' hearts. Even if you have never been to a barbershop, the barber’s pole is an internationally recognized symbol that is a part of most people's neighbourhoods. All they needed was an update. Barbershops are usually not aesthetically pleasing but this perception can and will change with reputable companies such as Baxter of California opening well designed ones. It's only a matter of time before the new age barbershop becomes the go-to hair cutting place for men.


"There's no such thing as bad publicity."

A lot of words come to mind when trying to describe Lindsay Lohan. Not a lot of them are positive. Just a few weeks ago it seemed as though she had hit rock bottom. I can't even remember the name of the last film she was in. But the future looks a bit better for this troubled celebrity. It has been announced that she will be cast to play the role of 70s pornography star, Linda Lovelace, in an upcoming biopic. This may be the last chance for Lindsay Lohan to get her act together and there are a few things she needs to consider in order to succeed.

Let's start things off by reinforcing a basic concept; CONTROVERSY is never a bad thing in the entertainment industry. People love troubled celebrities and what they love even more is a comeback story. Mariah Carey's and Britney Spears' careers have both proved that. No matter how much attention Lindsay Lohan has gotten for her stints in rehab, DUIs or lesbian phase her career will not be affected by it. These episodes will actually help her immensely because they will play a crucial part in the creation of her own fairy tale. She's experienced the rise and the fall. Now, she can either slowly fade away or work her way back to the top. The odds will be heavily against her but that's what will keep people interested. Celebrities' pasts are very quickly forgotten. Lindsay Lohan just has to help people forget by proving that she has talent.

While Lindsay Lohan has the general public's attention she has to make a few professional changes. The djing and singing careers have to end. She's not a musician and never will be. It's difficult to seem authentic when you're involved in too many artistic outlets. Gaining credibility in one field is already tough enough so why make it even harder on yourself? Lindsay Lohan also needs to be more selective when accepting magazine photoshoot deals. Her recent photoshoot for Muse magazine generated an overwhelmingly positive response but she ruined it by quickly appearing in a less than average Purple Fashion magazine cover story, followed by the previously mentioned Hollywood.tv photoshoot. By selecting her photoshoots more carefully it will help her turn her current desperate image into a provocative yet empowered one.

Now, this may sound surprising to some of you but Lindsay Lohan is a decent actor. She just has to focus on obtaining roles in edgier indie flicks. The Linda Lovelace biopic can be the perfect launch pad for this. It will be a challenging role due to the film's controversial subject matter and emotional complexity but this is her chance to prove her worth. A solid performance in this film could lead to other respectable roles. Lindsay Lohan should learn a few things from Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career path. He was also a child actor that most people remember for his role in 3rd Rock from the Sun. As an adult, he solidified his reputation as a talented actor by appearing in many independant films. He played troubled characters in movies such as Mysterious Skin and Brick and gained critical acclaim for these roles. Now he's appearing in more mainstream cinema ((500) days of summer) but is still widely respected. Lindsay Lohan has to move on from her child/teen film stage. It's time for her to wholeheartedly enter the independant film industry. Playing a troubled Linda Lovelace is a dream start.

Second chances don't come around very often so Lindsay Lohan needs to seize this opportunity. She was at the top of the entertainment world but has since spiraled out of control. She hasn't starred in a profitable film since 2004 (CBS). It's about time she worked her way back up. There will be moments when it will seem as though the entire world is against her but if she plays her cards right she could become a cool, sexy and respected actress. All the ingredients are there. It's just up to her not to mess it up.


"Be loud when everyone is quiet and be quiet when everyone is loud." - Joerg Koch

The magazine industry was one of the hardest hit during the economic crisis. Several publications went out of business, others switched to online formats while some reduced the amount of issues published and/or the size of their publications. The digital revolution has completely changed the industry's landscape, forcing companies to search for a new business model. Indeed, magazine consumption is not what it used to be therefore several publications are scrambling to keep their respective readers' attention, nevermind trying to find new ones. Fortunately, amongst all of the trial and error, a select few entities seem to have figured out a way to build new magazine empires (well, they're at least on the right track). 032c, Monocle, Fantastic Man and Purple Fashion would be the first to tell you that print is far from dead.

First things first, let's talk about the actual physical product. In this constantly evolving online world, selling a magazine comes down to two main things: design and quality. It's these tangible elements that can't be duplicated online that will help a publication sell. As Luke Hayman of Pentagram explains: "...the publications that end up enduring will be the ones that exploit what print only can do. The best ones will be things that you want to save, not toss in the recycling bin. They'll project a sense of craftsmanship and permanence. And each one should be an object that feels terrific in your hand." 032c, Monocle, Fantastic Man and Purple Fashion are all magazines that consumers collect, in a similar way to novels. This is largely due to their look and feel. They differentiate themselves visually by focusing on graphic design. Fantastic Man has won a D&AD award for best magazine and newspaper design and 032c has been exhibited at the London Design Museum. In order to stimulate the reader's sense of touch, all of these magazines are thick. Not just the magazine itself, but also the pages. They're heavy publications that could be considered modern day coffee table books. Monocle and Purple also include special edition supplements in each issue. For example, Monocle's November 09 issue came with a small business guide and Purple magazine # 08 came with the Dash Snow purple book entitled You can't drink it if it's frozen. Monocle even incorporated an elastic strap bookmark into its magazine. It's by paying attention to these physical details that these companies add value to their magazines and entice consumers to purchase them.

Distribution and publication can also help a magazine's chances of success. Fantastic Man and 032c have played on the exclusivity factor. Both publications are distributed in a small number of locations. This strategy reinforces the feeling of rarity and exclusivity. Buying the magazine becomes an adventure. It's a sort of pilgrimage, if you will, meaning that once the consumers actually obtain the magazine, they value it and cherish it even more. Although Purple Fashion can be purchased in more locations, like 032c and Fantastic Man, it is a biannual magazine. Since there are only two issues published every year there is a lot more effort put into production. The final product has more content for the consumer to enjoy. Content is another crucial factor to consider. It's not about who will talk about what first anymore. It's about who is offering the most unique perspective on the subject. Purple fashion carved its place in the market by creating a fashion magazine that was real, raw and at times, provocative. It went against the glamourous 80s fashion imagery. Some even went as far as to call it anti-fashion. All of these factors reinforce the image of craftsmanship associated with these magazines which in turn convinces consumers to buy them and, more importantly, hold on to them.

Another reason for these magazines' success is their ability to leverage their brand through various media. They interact with consumers on several platforms, the two main ones being print and online. It is important that these platforms leverage each other. Too many magazines are simply copying and pasting their hard copy image and content onto their websites. This is the wrong approach. By doing this, the consumer will only visit one of the two formats for his or her information needs. It's as if the company is voluntarily making one of its two key consumer touchpoints, obsolete. Magazines need to get consumers to buy their print issues, and while they're impatiently waiting for the next one they can calm their craving by getting their fix online or via another innovative platform. By engaging the consumer in these different worlds, the consumer is more frequently interacting with the brand and hopefully interacting for longer periods of time.

For example, in addition to Monocle's print magazine, fans can read the daily Monocolumn, listen to the weekly podcast, shop online, as well as look at various video interviews and reports, all via the website. Visitors can't read any of the magazine's articles unless they get a paid subscription. Monocle has also opened up its own boutiques in London and Los Angeles. They have even collaborated with various brands. These collaborations include a series of dress shirts with Oliver Spencer and a lamp with Andreas Martin-Löf. Fans of Fantastic Man can visit the website for the daily recommendation. 032c has yet to truly establish its online presence but its editor and creative director, Joerg Koch is creating Select "...a test vehicle for 032c's biggest project: developing its quiet online presence into a constantly-updated content site that not only complements its flagship print product, but stands alone in quality and scale." (The Business of Fashion) Purple Fashion has created a strong online presence through its founder's purple DIARY website. Oliver Zahm keeps readers interested in his magazine by constantly giving them an intimate look into his personal and professional life. Purple has also recently launched an online boutique where the magazine sells limited edition products. Unlike other players in the magazine business 032c, Monocle, Fantastic Man and Purple Fashion embraced the internet and found ways to use this tool to leverage and/or complement their print format.

Although 032c, Monocle, Fantastic Man and Purple Fashion are currently running successful publications, they need to continue innovating in order to remain leaders in the disruptive magazine industry that we know today. These companies seem to have established prosperous mixed business models incorporating both the print and online formats however no one has found a way to generate significant revenue online. This is something that needs to be explored in the future. For now, the digital realm remains an extension of the print realm but it may well completely replace it one day. The online format offers the immediacy that younger consumers seek. At the moment, there is still a market segment that values the craftsmanship involved in making print magazines but this market segment will most likely continue to diminish. This isn't a nice thought for any hopeful magazine editors out there but it's a reality that needs to be addressed. Well, that is if you want to be the next Tyler Brulé or Olivier Zahm, and if you don't, you probably picked the wrong industry to work in.


"A lot of people say that it's a family thing..." - Busy P

EMI's recent troubles clearly demonstrate that the music recording industry is not about to recover from the digital revolution caused by Napster. Of course, the recent economic crisis hasn't helped but the four major labels can only blame themselves for the current turmoil in the recording industry. They failed to notice the business opportunity available online. They got lazy and stopped innovating. Sony-BMG, Warner, Universal and EMI thought that they had it all figured out so they just sat back and waited for the money to come in. Unfortunately for them, recorded music sales continue to drop significantly which isn't good since 70% of their revenue depends on these sales (City A.M.). However, this doesn't mean that the recording industry is dead. People still and always will consume music. They are just consuming it in a different way. No one has found the perfect new business model but certain music entrepreneurs have discovered alternative ways to sustainably run record labels. One interesting case is Ed Banger Records, a successful boutique record label.

Pedro Winter (better known as Busy P) started Ed Banger Records in 2002. He used to manage Daft Punk and decided to reinvest the money he made from that career into a new venture. He leveraged the connections and insight he gained during his time with Daft Punk to create a new kind of record label. His first signing was Mr. Flash but Ed Banger Records now represents fourteen different acts. Although all of the artists on its roster are unique they can almost all be categorized under the electronica music genre. Indeed, Ed Banger Records played an important part in reviving the French electronic music scene with bands such as Justice reaching international stardom. However, Ed Banger only became an "it" label in 2006/2007. It took this boutique label a good 4 years to obtain the recognition that it deserved. Pedro Winter accomplished this by focusing on two key factors.

Unity: The Ed Banger family is known as the Ed Banger Crew. Busy P's the father figure and all of the artists on his record label are his kids. There's a feeling of belonging and camaraderie that you won't find at any major label and even at a lot of independent labels. By running the record label in a communal manner, Pedro Winter has created a tight-knit group of artists. An indestructible unit. During its beginnings, music fans often discovered the label before they discovered its roster. He's accomplished this by promoting the record label itself, rather than the individual artists on the record label. He launched the Ed Banger tours where the label's artists dj all together. Every act is on stage at the same time. Xavier from Justice will play a few tracks, then DJ Mehdi will take a turn, followed by Busy P. Unlike your typical dj party, they don't stick to specific fixed time slots for each dj set. If someone can think of a good track to spin next they simply take their turn at the decks. Ed Banger Records recently celebrated its 7th birthday. To mark the occasion they threw two parties, one in New York City and one in London. Justice, Busy P, DJ Mehdi and Breakbot djed in NYC, while Busy P, SebastiAn, So Me and Breakbot took care of the party in London. During these dj sets they'll often play each other's tracks. They are proud of each other's work and will often produce remixes for each other. This mutual respect amongst the artists on the label only increases the sense of unity. Busy P has been releasing Ed Rec compilations to further promote his label's group mentality. There have been three volumes so far. These Ed Rec tours and releases help promote the artists on Ed Banger Records as a whole. No act feels more important than the other. This family feeling has allowed Ed Banger Records' artists as well as its fan base to interact in a unique and special way.

Consistency: One of the big differences between Ed Banger Records and other record labels, is that Ed Banger Records has one artistic director. So Me is in charge of creating all of the label's artwork. He makes the label's record covers, flyers, posters and promotional merchandise. In other words, Ed Banger Records has its own one-man art department. This has allowed the label to create a consistent visual image. Indeed, although So Me makes different artwork for each recording artist on the label, each piece still has that signature So Me aesthetic. His work has a cartoon-y, pop art feel to it that electronic music fans instantly recognize. His artistic talent has transformed the records, along with Ed Banger's other products, into collectibles. You're not just buying music on a CD, you're buying an art piece too that you can display proudly. One just has to look at the Ed Rec discography collage on the label's myspace page to understand what I'm talking about. So Me's artwork for Ed Banger has become so popular that it has also led to some interesting brand extension opportunities for the label. The Ed Banger Crew and a few friends launched the Cool Cats website so that fans could buy any Ed Banger Records merchandise as well as other limited edition products. So Me's t-shirts have been selling extremely well. They are worn proudly by the Ed Rec nation (I can't imagine anyone wearing a Universal Music or Domino Records t-shirt, can you?). The t-shirts made for Justice's D.A.N.C.E video were also up for sale and instantly sold out. These t-shirts are released in limited quantities making them sought after clothing items. In addition, Ed Banger Records has collaborated with WESC to make headphones (or edphones), there is now an Ed Banger vs. Eastpak range of bags, and Justice and So Me made a limited edition Coca-Cola bottle. These business ventures have all helped further promote the Ed Banger brand.

Busy P is the key figure behind Ed Banger Records' success. He is the one who decided to start a record label that would operate differently than the ones in the past. His distinct approach has allowed his record label to differentiate itself from the rest. Even though his label was rapidly becoming popular he expanded in a reserved manner. By 2006, Ed Banger Records was the label of the moment. However, he didn't start signing any artist he could. He wanted to keep the "family" quite small and decided to grow at a slower pace so that he could continue managing the label properly. Just like in any business, growth is important but you want to grow in a sustainable manner. As Pedro Winter explained to Scion Radio: "...at Ed Banger the idea is to keep the family quite small because, you know, we are still a small team and I don't want to be crazy, because everybody is looking at us and because we are the label of the moment I don't want to become crazy and sign everything and everybody." It's by adopting this attitude that Ed Banger Records is still around today.

Of course, Ed Banger Records has made mistakes. At times, Busy P's label wasn't releasing new material fast enough to sustain its rapid ascension. Today's music consumers have short attention spans. In order to keep their attention, record labels must strategically and consistently release new music. Uffie's Pop the Glock was a huge hit in 2006 but the video was not released until 2009 and she has yet to release her debut album. She is no longer relevant, therefore her CD will most likely sell poorly. After the release of Justice's Cross, Ed Banger Records failed to release another album to continue generating hype around the label. And let's not even talk about the signing of DSL. This electro infused rap group just doesn't fit in. However, with the fairly recent signing of Breakbot things seem to be getting back on track. Breakbot released some well received mixes as well as an EP. In addition, a couple of Ed Banger Records' older artists are expected to release new material soon. A few of SebastiAn's new tracks have already found their way online. DJ Mehdi has teamed up with Riton to form Carte Blanche. Justice is also rumoured to be releasing a new album this year. If Busy P plays things right (as he has already done in the past), Ed Banger Records could once again become the label of the moment. Only time will tell.


"The adult industry is changing, and people are going to have to be progressive—and if they're not they're going to fail." - Sasha Grey (RM part 5)

The adult entertainment industry is the subject of the fifth and final installment of the realness movement analysis. The realness movement in this industry has not manifested itself as much as in the fashion, music, photography and modeling industries that were analyzed in the previous four entries, however, with the rise in popularity of porn stars such as Sasha Grey and Faye Reagan as well as erotic magazines such as Jacques and S magazine there still has been a shift towards depicting a realer side of adult entertainment. Yes, porn stars that resemble Jenna Jameson and magazines such as Maxim are still the norm but a niche market has developed that favours more natural looking porn stars and more stylized skin magazines. Although adult entertainment is considered by some to be a controversial topic this industry is prevalent in our society whether it's out in the open or not and the development of the realness movement would not have been complete without bringing the adult entertainment industry into the picture.

Sasha Grey has received quite a bit of media coverage in recent times. She has appeared on the Tyra Banks show, in American Apparel advertisements, in Steven Soderbergh's film The Girlfriend Experience, in magazines such as VMAN and she has had several speaking engagements at colleges including UCLA. If you read or watch an interview with her she is poised and articulate, mentioning Godard, Nietzsche and Baudrillard along the way. Although Faye Reagan may not be considered an intellectual porn star like Sasha Grey she has also appeared in American Apparel advertisements and graced the pages of Paradis magazine, garnering her some attention in more mainstream press. Career accomplishments aside, Sasha Grey and Faye Reagan have both become popular because of their naturally beautiful physiques. They're both attractive women that don't seem to wear a lot of make-up. The average porn star looks like a real-life barbie doll with piles of make-up on her face and surgically enhanced breasts. In other words, they look fake. Sasha Grey and Faye Reagan have decided to go for a more natural look. For example, Sasha Grey has small breasts and Faye Reagan (pictured above) doesn't try to conceal her freckles. These aren't physical traits that you would normally associate with porn stars. However, viewers find this refreshing. It's by embracing their real looks that they are differentiating themselves and creating a new image. It's about time the pornography world experienced a change of direction.

There's also a niche market that is championing a return to classic erotic magazines. Jacques magazine seems to be garnering the most attention at the moment. The self-proclaimed only new luxury erotic magazine in America prides itself in "...illustrating the real beauty of real women." (Jacques magazine website) The publication abides by a strict no airbrush policy differentiating itself from the big players like Nuts in the UK. Their photoshoots depict women of all shapes and sizes. Even the Editor-In-Chief strips down for her photograph, showing that she wholeheartedly believes in the product. S magazine has also been getting a lot of attention by creating a bi-annual erotic/fashion magazine. The magazine consists of tastefully photographed real nude women. Another magazine worth mentioning is Paradis magazine. This men's magazine is much more progressive and contemporary than the average men's magazine, mixing interviews with artists such as Damien Hirst with editorials by Juergen Teller with nude pictures of model Daisy Lowe and the previously mentioned Faye Reagan. To a certain extent, even Playboy has been targeting this niche market. The recently launched Playboy France is much more classy, sophisticated and stylish, reminiscent of the Playboy magazines from back in the 60s or 70s. The October 2008 photoshoot with Lily Cole is a direct reference to this iconic magazine's past. These magazines are getting good press because they're branding themselves in a different way and therefore distancing themselves from the sleezy men's magazines we're used to. They've gained credibility and a certain acceptance by portraying real and naturally beautiful women in an artistic yet erotic manner. As Cayte Grieve stated in Blackbook, these publications are blurring the lines between art, eroticism and pornography.

As the popular saying goes: "sex sells" but it doesn't mean that we have to sell sex in a sleezy and dirty way. This may sound cliché but sex is a beautiful thing. So why not portray it in an organic, natural and real way? This is obviously a question that the previously mentioned porn stars and erotic magazines have asked themselves and they've decided to do something about it. The realness movement is helping the adult entertainment industry become more tasteful, stylish and sophisticated and therefore more respected in mainstream culture. They've done all of this by going back to the basics: getting rid of the unnecessary touch ups, embracing models' natural beauty and depicting realistic settings. Who knows, maybe with the proliferation of porn stars and erotic mags such as these, adult entertainment will one day become more openly accepted in society.


"No one wants a beautiful woman or a beautiful man anymore." - Kelly Cutrone (RM part 4)

The average person probably thinks that male models are muscular, tall and attractive. Two of the three descriptions are accurate however today's ideal male model is definitely not muscular. The fashion and modeling industries experienced a drastic shift in demand at some point in the early 2000s. The male models du moment are skinny, lean and even tattooed. Gone are the days of the male models with movie star looks and porn star physiques. The skinny types are giving the beefcake types a run for their money. Models such as Cole Mohr, Josh Beech, Tyler Riggs and more recently Jethro Cave and Ash Stymest are leading quite successful modeling careers thanks to their lean figures. This new silhouette represents the realness movement in the male modeling industry.

Models with god-like physiques were the norm in the modeling industry up until the late 1990s. The faces of brands such as Dolce & Gabanna and Calvin Klein all had chiseled bodies. If you didn't have a 6-pack and great pecks you could forget about modeling all together. However, the consumers and eventually, the fashion world, got disenchanted with this overly masculine image. In the early 2000s, it was time to reinterpret and redefine societies' notions of masculinity. Male models started getting skinnier and skinnier. Some critics even thought that companies were going too far and promoting a stick figure or scarecrow physique. Whatever your opinion may be, the fact of the matter is that the men's fashion world shifted towards a more raw and realistic look. These boys were naturally good-looking and thin, demonstrating that you didn't need to go to the gym to be attractive. Consumers could relate to these models and this partially explains the reason why this trend caught on.

Hedi Slimane the ex-designer of Dior Homme was one of the first to promote the skinny look in men's fashion. He was making slim fitted, tapered clothing and therefore wanted thinner models to suit his aesthetic. He couldn't always find the type of model he was looking for at modeling agencies so he started conducting street castings. Many of the models in his shows and campaigns are boys that he discovered himself during his travels. Its thanks to these street castings that he was able to find real skinny punks to create a new look in the menswear industry. This brought authenticity to the fashion world. Modeling agencies quickly started scouting and signing skinny boys as well as promoting them to their clients. As Guy Trebay explains in The Vanishing Point article he wrote for the New York Times: "Within a couple of seasons, the sleekness of Dior Homme suits made everyone else's designs look boxy and passé, and so designers everywhere started reducing their silhouettes." Hedi Slimane's influence on the male modeling industry continues to this day, even though he has not designed a collection since 2007.

The "it" male models all have a punk and somewhat androgynous look. They embody the energy and rebellion of youth. They all have tattoos on their bodies and Ash Stymest as well as Josh Beech have gauges in their ears. They have an "I don't give a fuck" rock n' roll attitude. This punk rock model look has also spilled over to the womenswear market. Alice Dellal and Tasha Tilberg are both examples of female models that have become well-known for their edgier looks. Alice Dellal sports a partly shaved hairdo and they both have nose piercings and tattoos. This group of models has taken the fashion world by storm and the fashion world can't seem to get enough as they have appeared on countless magazine covers, in campaigns and in editorials.

The raw, skinny and edgy punk rock aesthetic in the modeling industry is yet another manifestation of the realness movement in the creative community. Dirty, slim and rough is in. Clean, muscular and handsome is out. At the moment, consumers don't want to look at advertisements portraying fantasy male models with physiques that are unattainable to most. They want something that is more realistic and that's what these models represent: reality. Although there is a lot of effort put into creating and maintaing this look, the punk/skinny aesthetic gives the consumer the impression that these models are effortlessly living their lives, one day at a time, without a care in the world. It's an alternative to the clean-cut, muscular male model image that was dominant in the past. In an industry that's known for pushing boundaries this change was necessary.


“I would just have this one little camera and show up at a shoot and people would be like: “where’s the equipment?”” - Terry Richardson (RM part 3)

The snapshot aesthetic is the best representation of the realness movement in the photography industry. It became a dominant form of photography in the 90s and continues to be popular today, especially amongst youth culture. Magazines such as Vice, The Face, i-D as well as clothing companies such as Marc Jacobs, Sisley and even American Apparel have all used this style of photography to promote their brands. Prior to the snapshot aesthetic's rise in popularity, photography was too impersonal and detached from everyday life. Photographers were depicting surreal models in unrealistic settings and situations. The point and shoot style of photography went against this trend by portraying subjects in a more intimate and personal manner. Terry Richardson, Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans, Diana Scheunemann and Ryan McGinley are all examples of photographers who have contributed to making this aesthetic more accepted in mainstream photography. They are the ones representing the realness movement in the photography industry.

For a long time the imagery found in advertisements, editorials and other visual media often depicted fantasy worlds. The models were portrayed as god-like creatures living in perfect environments. This advertising strategy was employed to create an aspirational image. In other words, by wearing a certain brand the consumer will be, in this case, seductive. This strategy is still used today however certain brands have decided to shift their image from a glamourous one to a more realistic one. Certain consumers got sick of constantly aspiring to own specific products that they could never actually own. They realized that they were never going to be like the models in the images they were being exposed to. These images ended up being perceived as unrealistic and unattainable by the average consumer. The point and shoot style of photography allows the consumer to relate to the images being shown. It is more immediate, more energetic and more personal. It brings accessibility into the equation since there's more interaction between the photograph and the viewer. The photographs don't seem like they have been retouched, the models' imperfections are noticeable and the settings are realistic. It's sexy, fun and raw. It's this intimacy that attracted and still attracts people to this sort of "natural" or "organic" photography.

When talking about the manifestations of the realness movement in photography there is no way of getting around Terry Richardson. He almost single handedly brought the snapshot aesthetic to the attention of the mainstream market during the 90s. However, it was difficult for him to launch his career. Showing up to a professional fashion photoshoot with a point and shoot Yashica T4 camera isn't exactly what you would expect from a photographer who was hired to oversee a campaign or editorial spread. He obviously got criticized for using amateur equipment but the visual results quickly shut his critics up. The snapshot aesthetic eventually caught on and Terry Richardson accurately describes the reasons for this in an interview during the Belvedere vodka campaign shoot:

"[With regards to] my aesthetic...it's much more immediate, and it has an energy to it...I think that that's what people, now more so, they look at a picture and if there's energy, there's some sexiness or something they like about it, it appeals to them...it's an energy people respond to, they want to be part of it or they like the way someone looks, and that's on a more human level, I think that advertising was really detached for a long time, it had nothing to do with how people see things, they sought to make it this fantasy, special, almost unobtainable object. To me, with the whole snapshot thing, it's just human, it's personal and I think people respond to it."

By following these beliefs his photographs have appeared on countless magazine covers, in editorials, in campaigns, on pop stars' album covers and in addition to shooting the previously mentioned Belvedere vodka campaign he has also recently shot the infamous Pirelli calendar, solidifying the point and shoot aesthetic's place as one of the dominant forms of photography.

Even American Apparel adopted Terry Richardson's style of photography. Their advertisements are directly influenced by the snapshot aesthetic. It's in large part due to their campaigns that the brand has become so successful. Consumers relate to the models in the shots because the pictures look like they could have been taken by the viewer. The models aren't even models, they're usually employees or so-called "real-life" models. Again, the pictures are personal, raw and usually sexy. They don't hide the subjects' flaws. They don't seem to have gone through hours of retouching in photoshop. American Apparel was one of the first mass market clothing brands to use this style of photography in its advertisements therefore it was new to consumers and helped them differentiate themselves from the competition.

The Marc Jacobs brand has also profited thanks to the snapshot aesthetic. Marc Jacobs' longtime collaboration with Juergen Teller has created unique advertisements that consumers can immediately recognize without even seeing the company's name. The photographs are fun, energetic and raw. Past campaigns have included Harmony Korine eating at a restaurant, Ryan McGinley taking a bath and Victoria Beckham’s legs popping out of a Marc Jacobs bag. They have chosen not to always use professional models. Yes, these subjects are famous in their respective industries but these images show them in a different light. In a way, the photographs bring them down to our level. The consumer can relate to them more since the campaigns make them look like everyday people by depicting them in banal/normal settings.

Prior to the likes of Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller entering the photography industry the snapshot aesthetic had never been valued highly. It was perceived as unprofessional and crude. However, it revolutionized the photography industry by incorporating elements of intimacy and reality and this, in a way, democratized it. The point and shoot aesthetic demonstrated that there wasn't one best kind of photography. These "realness movement" photographers made the photography world more accepting of their "natural" photography and showed that they also deserved artistic merit. The fact that this type of photography has remained quite popular during the last 15+ years attests to the fact that it has become an important part of the photography industry. Longevity is an important indicator of any true artistic movement and I don't see the snapshot aesthetic disappearing anytime soon.