Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom has spent the past 22 years photographing people in some the world’s fashion capitals of New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and Shanghai.
Eijkelboom is a kind of anti-Bill Cunningham, and focuses not on individualism, but on recurring trends that he notices on the streets such as all denim outfits, plaid shirts, and fur-lined hoods.
He took thousands of photographs of regular people outside of shopping malls or on busy streets, and laid them out in a grid to show undeniable patterns in street fashion. Eijkelboom never spent more than two-hours capturing the photographs, he explained in an interview with Phaidon.
He then combined all of the photos he took into a 500 page book called, “People of the Twenty-First Century,” which shows how people from across the world all basically dress the same.
The photographs have been taken over a period of more than two decades, so some of the fashion trends — like all denim — have gone out of style:
But the photographs represent an interesting take on individualism (and if it actually exists).
The project is also a study of how consumerism effects our sense of individuality.
“I think ‘how can you be so naïve to go to a shop, to buy clothes that sum up your personality, and not realise that, at the same time, 10,000 men and women around the world do and think the same things?”But I do it too, of course,” Eijkelboom explains in Phaidon
“We’re told we’re individuals, and we buy these things, and we are a product of the culture that we live in.”
Eijkelboom’s process was a bit sneaky, he would wear his camera around his neck and take photos by pressing a trigger in his pocket, so that people will not react to the photographs.
His photographs are different from the work of street style photographers like Cunningham or The Sartorialist because, “they are interested in the things that are exceptional, whereas I’m looking for things that you see all the time on the street,” Eijkelboom told Phaidon.
Although the project represents a certain conformity in society, Eijkelboom insists that his book has a positive message.
“In the end you could say the book is about a fight, a war within society: more and more, big companies have their grip on people, in producing the clothes and so on. But in the book you see the possibilities to give it your own personal touch,” he told the Guardian.
The book is available at Phaidon, for more information about the project click here, and keep scrolling for a few more of our favourite grids.
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