Phil Oh

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Fashion photographer Phil Oh, best known as the creator of the online street fashion bible Street Peeper, arrived at his passion after several career detours including failed Internet startups, trashy novel writing, telemarketing, and bussing tables. The Chicago native is a contributor to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, and his skills are in high demand for shooting advertising campaigns for fashion’s most prestigious brands. Though currently based in Brooklyn, New York, the globetrotting Oh spends roughly half the year traveling all over the world for international fashion weeks, as well as for work and for inspiration, accompanied by his trusty Canon. With his long hair, black spectacles, and flair for mixing riotous patterns and striking shapes, Oh stands out as much as his subjects.

How and why did you start taking photos of street fashion?

I started taking street-style photos as a hobby. I had just published a novel and had too much free time on my hands, so I thought it would be fun to travel to a few cities I had never been, hang out, and snap people I thought looked cool. I didn’t have any background in fashion or photography — actually I studied history at NYU — so really I just took photos of what I liked, without any sort of fashion industry filter. It was a good excuse to travel and meet people too. I had no idea that street-style would become “a thing.”

What attracts you visually to someone so that you want to take their picture?

While I do appreciate a full fashion-fashion look, my favorites are the people who can mix and match high fashion with street wear or vintage—take a trendy piece and make it their own perhaps. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

What kind of stylistic elements do you appreciate in fashion today?

I love color and print, and especially mixing prints and textures in a way that works. I hate black!

Who are your favorite street fashion personalities?

Susanna Lau of Style Bubble (@susiebubble), Hanne-Gaby Odiele (@hannegabysees), and Nick Wooster (@nickwooster).

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Text by Karena Gupton Akhavein

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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