A Brooklyn street style photo from Jamel Shabazz's collection.
Photo: Courtesy of Jamel Shabazz
Before fashion bloggers flocked to Lincoln Center matching outfits with Canon cameras, Jamel Shabazz roamed Brooklyn in the '70s, '80s and '90s capturing the roots of street style from the borough’s graffiti covered corners. What we remember of the bygone time is a bunch of Kangol hats and adidas shell toes with all the cool kids peering over gleaming Cazal shades, but much like what makes street style so interesting now, it wasn’t about what you wore but how you wore it. “Back in the 1970s, we made do with what we had,” writes Shabazz in an email. “If you had a pair of Pro- Ked or Converse sneakers they were to last you until you started seeing holes, and for the most part you only had one pair. Many of us were self-styled and we took great pride in being original; never really wanting to look like the next person.”
Shabazz’s analog pictures may have faded over the decades but it’s unmistakable that the swag of the era—the fastidious attention to detail in personalized fit and accessorizing—continues to define what inspires us. Girls dripping in gold chains, sporting distressed, bleach-splattered jeans, (ripped just so) is as timeless as it is unmistakably fly and even the Borsalino black hat that may have seemed so fresh on Theophilus London two years ago is just a reincarnation of a look Shabazz captured almost 30 years before.