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Ashley Jordan Gordon’s Street Styles

October 16, 2011
by the gentle author

You might think that it is in the nature of photography to reveal the present moment. It should be easy to take a picture and say, “This is how we look now,” yet one of the most elusive subjects to reveal in photography is the distinct reality of the present day.

Mostly, the qualities that define the time we are living through are invisible to us because we lack the sense of perspective which only appears later, when we look back up0n the pictures in a few years time and – discovering the photographs in a drawer – we experience with the familiar shock of recognition, as what was once contemporary is shown to be of its period.

The challenge for any photographer is to recognise subjects that characterise the present moment and capture them in pictures, making tangible the world as it is today. This is a task of particular fascination for Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Ashley Jordan Gordon, especially when it comes to photographing people in the street and recording their clothing. A native of San Francisco, and one who loves to travel, Ashley has the advantage of being able to observe what is distinctive about how people dress in London by contrast with other cities and countries.

Returning after a time away, Ashley set out to photograph the here and now of street styles. “I was looking to pick out patterns that seemed very ‘London’ to me,” Ashley revealed, “I wanted to discover what made you look at a person and see that they are truly part of the living organism of the London streets – an aesthetic emblem – each with their unique interpretations, but who have all grown to feed off the history of the city and had it bleed into their sartorial choices, so that when you look at them you don’t just think ‘London fashion’ you think ‘London.'”

Scrutinised with an anthropologist’s eye, two trends are emergent in these pictures recording a particularly stylish and occasionally narcissistic tribe of East Enders. The first is of young women appropriating the leather biker jacket as an assertion of masculine power and protective armour against the rigors of urban life. The second is the influence of the clothing of Londoners of years gone, apparent either in the wearing of old clothes, like the girl (pictured above) in granny’s tweed cost in Bishopsgate, or through reference to styles of earlier times such as the literary chap outside Leila’s Cafe with the elaborately tied neckerchief of a nineteenth century student.

The special quality of Ashley Jordan Gordon’s pictures is that they transcend the commonplaces of street style photography to become portraits of individuals, revealing the personalities of which their clothes are an integral expression. As one who spends a lot of time looking at old photographs, it is a strange experience looking at Ashley’s work because the clarity of her vision makes me I feel I am looking through the lens of time, yet being shown a world that still exists outside my own front door in Spitalfields.

In Brick Lane.

At London Fields.

Beside the Regent’s Canal.

At Leila’s Cafe, Calvert Avenue.

In the City of London.

Beside the Regent’s Canal.

At Broadway Market.

At Broadway Market.

By Haggerston Park.

By London Fields.

At Cowling & Wilcox, Shoreditch High St.

In Dray Walk, Truman Brewery.

Photographs © Ashley Jordan Gordon

You may also like to look at

Mick Taylor, the Sartorialist of Brick Lane

Mark Petty, Trendsetter

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Lizzie permalink
    October 16, 2011

    Big Woop Woop! Luv the photos! Xxx

  2. Chris F permalink
    October 16, 2011

    I’ve always been envious of people who are prepared to be sartorially brave. I’m very conservative with regards to my choices of daily attire but I do look back at certain periods in history and wish for a return to some of that smartness and ‘Hollywood’ glamour of the 40’s & 50’s . You can look back on various eras and say that those eras had a specific look, but I’m unsure about the here and now. There are some elements of clothing such as the ubiquitous black leggings and the grotesque Ugg boot that may end up defining this period of our history but it does seem that anything goes. You can be brave in London…. It’s not so easy here in Lincoln.

  3. Ekaterina permalink
    October 16, 2011

    Truly appreciate this post as a fashion editor of a magazine and all time London fan!

  4. October 17, 2011

    dappers, all of them

  5. Fernando permalink
    October 26, 2011

    Great pictures. That guy in the last one looks yummy!

  6. December 9, 2011

    Very swish, you’ve even managed to make our store look rather cool 🙂

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