Urban Legends

It’s a simple concept and it works brilliantly: a website with photographs of stylish mavens, as seen on the city’s streets. Claire O’Mahony talks to the duo behind style blog Dublin Streets about how Irish people are increasingly getting in touch with their creative fashion side and how Victoria Beckham has a lot of answer for Claire O’Mahony

If someday, as you’re pounding the streets of Dublin, you’re approached by a duo who introduce themselves as the people behind style blog Dublin Streets and ask if they can take your photograph, you should feel very flattered. They’re not weirdos, they mean you no harm and it’s not some kind of money scam. Andrea Horan and Matt Matheson, for it is they, clearly think that you are worth featuring on their website which is a pictorial record of the city’s most stylish inhabitants.

They started Dublin Streets last September and it’s been very popular to date, getting up to 4,000 hits a month. “We just found there was a lack of representation of the innovative fashion that’s happening in Dublin,” Matheson explains. “We go to Berlin a lot and we always check out the style blogs there, to track what people are wearing and also to see what to do while we’re there because they always feature club nights.” “It gave us a real landscape of the culture in Berlin and we wanted to do the same in Dublin,” Horan expands.

For anyone interested in fashion, urban style blogs are fascinating snap shots of how people are dressing globally. Far more interesting than conventional style bibles likeVogue, and in the main, unfettered by the dictates of advertisers, they’ve got an immediacy and originality that makes them compulsive reading/viewing. Increasingly, they’re becoming a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world too. New York blog The Sartorialist was selected as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 design influencers. Two of Urban Outfitter’s (where else?) best selling books are in a similar vein. Tokyo Look Book is a series of radical looks from the uber fashionable city and Nylon Street from the editors of Nylon magazine showcases creative dressers from the streets of Paris, London, Melbourne, New York and more. Dublin mightn’t seem like a rival in the style stakes to these cities but Horan and Matheson maintain that we’re getting there. “I think the Irish are starting to come out of themselves more and are getting adventurous. It’s more diverse than it used to be,” Horan says.

They’re planning to create a wider platform for their blog with an exhibition, Shoot Me: A global exhibition of Street Style running in Portobello’s Bernard Shaw pub, opening this Thursday and running for three weeks. It’s a collection of their greatest hits from the past 12 months, as well as being a collaborative effort with other international blogs including Berlin’s Street Clash, Helsinki’s Hel Looks and Montreal’s Pregnant Goldfish. Attendees on the launch night will be immortalised in Polaroid form and become a central part of the exhibit and the pictures will be on sale in small, medium or large for €15, €30 and €40.

So what exactly are they looking for? “Anything that catches our eye. It’s not like we have boxes that we want ticked. It’s just someone who’s doing something different or who happens to be wearing something interesting,” Horan says. “Sometimes it’s the more outlandish things. We love taking pictures of people who are making really exciting choices in style,” says Matheson. “There’s a photo of a guy with a robot suit on. That’s just, like, mad! But then other times it’s just people who have a really nice style and are comfortable in what they’re wearing. We have loads of pictures on our site that some people might hate and think ‘You’re trying too hard’ whereas they’re actually not and they’re just wearing the clothes that they like although it’s not necessarily the norm. It’s about starting conversations and getting people to open their minds.”

They take photos on an ad hoc basis and don’t usually go on missions. People are often reluctant to be snapped at first but are usually won over. “Irish people are mentallers,” Horan says. “They’ll say ‘Ah, you don’t want me’ so we got cards made up to make people feel more relaxed about it and to show we’re not just taking pictures for our own personal pleasure.” Graffiti is another important element of the site and they’re trying to elevate it into the art form that is in cities like Barcelona or Berlin. The latter is one of their favourite stylish cities (“Although I know it’s a cliché,” says Horan) as is Stockholm. Horan also has great affection for Amalfi because she says she likes gold medallions and chest hair.

A tenet of Dublin Streets is that they don’t post anything that they don’t like and they’re never negative. Having said that, they’re not oblivious to Irish fashion crimes. “Orange ladies,” they both chorus. Victoria Beckham has a lot of answer for, they think. Another dislike is that breed of office worker who always wears black trousers with block heels and white shirts that are that bit too small for them. How would they each describe their own individual styles? “That’s a hard one to answer. Mismatched?” offers Matheson. “Subtle,” grins Horan because clearly her look isn’t. Ok, how would they categorise each other’s looks then?

Matheson to Horan: “If you were out shopping and somebody said something was hideous you might look at it and say it was the most beautiful thing on earth. You like over-the-top things but you like simple things as well.”

Horan to Matheson: “You’re the biggest jeans fan I know and you’re quite casual – shorts, hoodies and t-shirts all mixed in with nice touches like dickey bows on t-shirts and quirky glasses. Basics with accessories, I’d say.”

They have a bigger exhibition planned for late August, which is another collaboration, this time with the graffiti artist Maser. What they’d really like to add to the blog is more photos of older people. Horan says: “I think it’s a lot to do with our culture; that we’re only growing into becoming stylish, as such, which is why it’s harder to find an older demographic. A lot of people we feature are quite young and trendy-types, whereas it’s not about trends. It’s actually about style and all ages.’

The exhibition takes place at the Bernard Shaw 11-12 Sth. Richmond Street, Portobello, Dublin 2, 12 June to 16 July Dublinstreets.blogspot.com