Arguably one of the pioneers of modern street style, photographer Tommy Ton made headlines last September when he elected to launch his own website rather than follow the editorial team of Style.com to Vogue Runway. There, Ton has continued to follow the fashion parade around the globe, albeit on a much more selective basis.
But he's also parlayed his reputation into gigs shooting ad campaigns for brands like Loewe, Mansur Gavriel and Swarovski. "It's great to kind of take a break and align yourself with the brands you know you want to work with," he tells Fashionista over the phone. "I'm very fortunate, I haven't had to reach out to too many brands, it's been the other way around."
The latest brand to reach out is Michael Kors, which tapped Ton for its fall handbag campaign. Dubbed "The Walk," the ads feature Solange Knowles, Soo Joo Park, Nina Agdal and Princess Olympia of Greece in — what else? — street style-esque shots around New York City. It's a first for the brand, which typically relies on high-gloss photography by Mario Testino; it approached Ton to capture each of the muses in a more "real, everyday life" style. It's intended to be the first in an ongoing series, which will feature new muses each season.
"I think what's really good about Michael Kors is that it's timeless luxury, it appeals to such a broad range of customers," Ton says of the campaign's muses. "When you go to the show, you see such a wide range of women, from ladies in their 60s to girls who are still in their early 20s, and I think the Michael Kors woman is very versatile."
To keep the feeling of the shoot genuine, each campaign star styled her own look and Ton gave them little direction. It was about capturing those moments of "effortless style" you see every day running around New York, so it was essential that the shoot not look like a posed set up — not always an easy feat. "It was really about letting the girl stand out on the street," he says. "When you're working with individuals or subjects that are very natural and have a certain authenticity about the way they carry themselves, it makes it a lot easier."
With campaigns like "The Walk," it's clear that street style has become more mainstream than ever, which means street style moments that feel genuine are fewer and further between during fashion month. It's a point not lost on Ton, who says that street style is now just another expected element of fashion month. "Sometimes, we can bore quite easily of things," he says of the current status of street style. "If you take what you want from it, you can find things that inspire you."
But it isn't going anywhere any time soon. As brands like Kors and Banana Republic pursue the street style aesthetic in their campaigns, street style is finding new life with customers. To that end, Kors customers who want to take part in Ton's street style world created in "The Walk" can post their own photos to social media of themselves wearing the brand with the hashtag #SidewalkSpotted. "Everyone on their social media, they're always trying to take photos of themselves in the street," Ton says. "They're concerned about how they're going to look in their every day life, so I think that's kind of how it's influenced and will continue to influence the masses."