It’s a grey morning in New York and teatime in Ettinger’s London office, when we catch up with New-York-based influencer and photographer, Guerre, for the Spring Journal.
The poet turned photographer was a founding member of the influential men’s Street Style movement. Ten years ago he saw a female Street Style image shot by Scott Schuman for GQ before deciding to extend the concept to menswear. The movement then exploded.
Guerre has since documented the increasingly global world of men’s style for brands (such as Veuve Cliquot, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sciamat), the media, and his influential Instagram account. And now he gives the Ettinger Journal his insight on gentleman’s style.
So, what is Street Style?
‘The essence is a person who’s expressing himself through the way he dresses. It’s who you are as a person – you’re showcasing your personality through your clothes. But Street Style is bittersweet for me – there’s a part of Street Style that has now become just about fashion and trends – certain publications have created a brand-focused monster.’
How did you develop your sense of style?
‘There has always been a real duality to my style. My parents are from Haiti; I’ve lived in the poorest country in the world and the richest place in the Western Hemisphere. I’ve seen the contrast and I find myself right the middle of it. I remember there was a point where I liked hip hop clothing and then I went towards more serious dressing – Wall Street greys and pinstripes but then I realised I was somewhere in the middle. So I merged my own worlds and put my skin on it – a beautifully tailored wool suit, but with something about the look that evokes a sense of casual cool.’
Who are your biggest style icons?
‘The one person who stands out for me is Miles Davis. He would lean forward when he played his trumpet and the line of his suit wouldn’t be straight anymore, because he was hunched over. To correct this, he would have his suits tailored so that the back was a little longer and when he bent over it would still look straight. That, for me is the epitome of personal style.’
What is your favourite suit?
‘Sciamat makes a beautiful suit, because they create pieces that are very artistic – they fall on the body in a certain way. They have taken out the lining inside the jacket so it’s very comfortable. It’s always about comfort and elegance for me.
One of my suits by them is a purple colour. I didn’t want neon or anything too common, and there’s something regal about purple; there’s a richness to it (something I’ve been feeling for the last few seasons).’
What are your style tips for the British gentlemen?
‘Always be true to self. That is the base of everything. Once you are true to yourself in terms of knowing who you are then it’s easier to express that through your clothing. Dress your personality, not just your physique.
Get pieces that matter and you can see yourself carrying along your life journey. They will end up being your signature pieces.’
What is difference between New York and London style?
‘American style tends to be relaxed and rebellious and we don’t conform to rule – in New York a person can dress in any style he wants.
In terms of London, you see more Englishmen wearing narrow Italian shoulders, more Italians wearing English shoulders in their suiting – depending on what their preferences are. There are more global trends now. It’s about how you incorporate multiple cultures and different things into your style.’
We notice you are always wearing a hat – is that your signature?
‘I love hats. For me it’s the final touch. I don’t remember why or how, but I have not walked out of my house for ten years without a hat.
When you look at history and you see men in hats and how they wore them, there’s something that’s just elegant. And, of course, the wider the brim the better.’
What is a Guerreism?
‘A Guerreism is “live life peacefully and live it with joy. Be happy, enjoy style and you’ll make the rest of the world happy”’.