Who the f*ck is Adam Katz Sinding?
A WhatsApp conversation with the photographer of This Is Not A F*cking Street Style Book
MENDO recently released the book “This Is Not A F*cking Street Style Book” by and with photographer Adam Katz Sinding aka Le21eme. The photographer practically lives online as much as he does offline, spends practically his entire life in hotels and visits more fashion weeks than he can count. This raises the question: “Who is Adam Katz Sinding?” The Q&A takes place – as you would imagine – via WhatsApp.
So, who is Adam Katz Sinding?
Who? Me? I’m a 34-year-old American dude who probably wishes he were French but lives in Denmark and runs around the world like every day was the last day I have. I’m a photographer, more simply.
Your alias is Le 21ème. What does it mean?
Le 21ème means “The 21st” in French. I started my website in October of 2007, about 1.5 years after moving back to Seattle from studying in Paris. Paris has 20 Arrondissements, or quarters, and while I was there, I really had my eyes opened by the Parisian style. And when I came back home, I started to photograph people on the street whom I found intriguing.
How many days of the year do you travel?
Too many. 330-340?
‘People want hype items. Who cares? Just dress for yourself.’
‘People want hype items. Who cares? Just dress for yourself.’
What do you love and hate most about traveling?
It’s damned lonely. However, it’s damned addictive too. If I’m home for 4-5 days in Copenhagen, no matter how much I love it there, I can’t wait to get back out on the road. But as I’m packing I’m always wishing I weren’t leaving. What I’ve found by traveling so much: Home is nowhere except where you want it to be. Recently my priorities have changed a bit, so let’s see how much I am traveling this time next year.
Why did you choose ‘not a fucking street style blog’?
I redesigned my website in 2011 and it asked me for a title for the little bar at the top of Safari. I wrote that. It was after I’d moved to NYC and “street style” was becoming a real “thing” and I began to hate how every photographer was shooting people, then asking them their names, brands, etc. It felt so commercial and boring. I used to do all of that, but had stopped as I was disgusted by the superficial aspect of it all. I started to shoot candidly, cropping “important” peoples’ faces, focussing on color, movement, light, etc. So, to me, it strayed from the boring genre of ‘street style.” Also, I began to shoot a lot of backstage… which of course is not “street style” either.
What do you think of the state of fashion today? How have you seen it evolve?
Devolve. Save for a handful of designers, it’s just all for the business now, and the creativity is disappearing. Look at Raf Simons’ departure from Dior. Look at the streetwear on the rise. People just want “things” to feel relevant. People want hype items that “no one” can get so when they have it they are validated. Who cares. Just dress for yourself.
Can you elaborate on your love for tech-wear?
Man…I used to be a fashion victim. FOR SURE. Look at photos of me during my first FW season. I was wearing head to toe Rick Owens, Boris Bidjan Saberi, and Carol Christian Poell. Now these brands are pretty cool to me still, but these clothes did not work for my job for the most part. My friend Stefan introduced me to Acronym through Haven’s website, and I didn’t “get it”. I am from Seattle…the land of Gore-Tex, Polarfleece, Lycra, and Uggs. We are protected from the elements but look like hell in the process. I think going to Copenhagen for the first time really opened my eyes to practical fashion without sacrificing style.
Copenhagen weather is far worse than Seattle… and you ride your bicycle everywhere, vs in Seattle you drive a car. People look exceptional in Copenhagen, wearing a mash-up of running clothes and streetwear. It’s insane. Even little 10-year-old boys and girls are dressed better than most people with a six-figure income in the Northwest. Acronym/ACG/Stone Island/ByBorre/Salomon, etc are built for what I do. That’s all.
What is interesting to you outside of fashion?
Running, cycling, hiking, and travel. That’s all.
‘It's a bookmark from February 2018’
‘It's a bookmark from February 2018’
You are rather active and directly on social media. Do you also filter things, or do you see online and offline as one?
I don’t hide much. I should. I will. But I think my life is unique in a way… as arrogant as it sounds. I just feel like I see some pretty amazing things every day…and I want to share it.
You also initiate discussions (e.g. you stood against a Russian designer who posted a post you did not agree with). Why do you do that?
I didn’t mean to do that. Whoops. I am pretty often blown away by the stupidity of many of my fellow humans…and I wasn’t born with much of a filter. So when I see bullshit, I call “bullshit”.
To what extent has social media changed the fashion world? What would you say its role is?
It is absolutely the catalyst for the decline of the value of “fashion” and the rise of “fast fashion.” We want everything now because we see everything now.
Your work now consists of tens of thousands of photos. For the book, you had to reduce that to a few hundred. What were your criteria?
Impossible to answer accurately. My first selection was over 1000 images… then we cut it down. We had to cut so many wonderful people and so many beautiful images. It’s hard. I am not good at editing myself down. I need to make a second book, filled with the outtakes.
If it is ‘Not A F*cking Street Style Book’ – what is it then?
This book is a time-stamp. Maybe you will leaf through it today… maybe pause on a few images, maybe more, maybe less. I want people to look at this book in 5 years. 10 years. 50 years. See how we dressed. See who was “relevant”. See what I saw. It’s a moment in time. A bookmark from February 2018, which I hope can be a bit of a reference for the state of the industry today. Let’s see!
May we suggest you follow Adam Katz Sinding on Instagram?
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