We use clothes to express our individuality right? They are a way of differentiating ourselves from others and making statements about who we are.
However, seeing photographer Hans Eijkelboom’s new book, it made me think twice about how unique our clothing choices really are.
Over the past twenty two years Eijkelboom has taken thousands of photos of people on the street with a shutter hidden in his pocket.
He shoots during two-hour sessions on the streets of Western cities, capturing people as they truly dress. What his photos reveal is that we don’t tend to dress with the individual spirit often sold to us by clothes shop, nor with strict conformity, but instead with a kind of “uncanny groupthink”.
There are photos – laid out in a grid which highlights the uniformity – of bare-chested men on roller blades, women in pink tank tops, people in puffer jackets. They are grouped together with the date, city and time range they were taken.
If you saw these people in the high street separately I am sure they would barely register, however seeing them all grouped together really makes you question how herd-like our behaviours are.
The book really raises the question of whether we have our own unique style, or are we just fashion robots? When advertising is so often focused on promoting the idea of individuality and freedom to express your own identity, it’s interesting to think about how much we all end up looking the same.
Are you a product of the culture you live in or are you something really of yourself?