Today Club Monaco, one of last year's best men's style brands, released its new lookbook. What separates this from previous seasons is that they decided to drop it on the Tumblr platform. The campaign was shot by photographerJustin Chung, who has worked with the brand before, and is also known for his candid style of photography. Chung developed a robust following on the Tumblr platform, so having him shoot the new lookbook was a match made on the Internet.
The digital lookbook went live earlier today, and features seven bloggers who reflect the brand's values showcased on their blog, the Club Monaco Culture Club. Holding down on the menswear front are Brandon Long of The Only Magic Left is Art, Ryan Plett of You Have Broken the Internet, and ever-stylish musician Twin Shadow. We interviewed Justin Chung about this campaign, the impact of Tumblr on his career, and how the social platform is dimishing the gap between brands and consumers.
You've been involved with Tumblr from an early point in your career, even shooting New York Fashion Week for them. How did it help you get your photographs out there?
I created my blog about two years ago, and it's been a very personal platform. When I moved to New York, I didn't know much about Tumblr, but meeting a lot of guys in the menswear community really opened my eyes to it. Ever since I've created mine, it's really opened a lot of doors. It's a perfect fit for my personality, and Tumblr has so many blogs—like 200 million users—but it gave me a good platform to showcase my work.
What has it done to bridge the gap between brands, consumers, and other creatives on the Internet?
For me, Tumblr is the perfect fit for my kind of work. I post photos of my peers, and I think I've created this world and lifestyle I believe in. I continue to share that and keep it consistent, but over time people have come to my blog for that "look." I think over the years Tumblr has been growing really fast, and from a brand's perspective, it's a great outlet for companies to share their outlook with consumers.
How is this project different from previous projects with Club Monaco?
The last time I worked with Club Monaco, I had shot four New York-based bloggers all over Manhattan, and it was a lot of fun. This project is on a much bigger scale. Not only were there more subjects involved, but it has a bigger presence. We had a lot of conversations about the art direction, but I think the reason I keep working with them is because we make the shoot as natural as possible. The shoot and the image quality is as good as the last project.
How would you describe your style of photography? What's the creative process behind it?
I like to keep things as natural and honest as possible. When I started working with these bloggers on this Club Monaco lookbook, we just try to go organically, and make things happen in a really approachable way. I didn't want these bloggers to try to be "models" or have to get "in character." It was more about just photographing them in a candid, honest manner.
It was a two-day shoot, and throughout the day I talked with the subjects to get to know them on a more personal level, so that I could showcase "them." My goal as a photographer is to for people to see these images, and feel like they get to know these bloggers better through them. It was more about capturing moments. Sometimes we even kicked people off the set to make them more comfortable. I knew that would work in some of the subjects' favor.
Are there any particular shots from the lookbook that stand out to you?
Of course! Since I'm a guy, I'm really into the men's clothing. I really dig the varsity jacket, and the slim chinos look awesome too.
The great thing about Club Monaco's "Culture Club" is that it showcases the brand beyond just a clothing retailer. It cultivates relevant interests like music and food. With that in mind, what interests you outside of photography?
I'm an avid traveler. Right now I'm taking the opportunity to go to different places and document all kinds of culture. For instance, I was recently in San Francisco taking photos of surfers who are creating wood shops next to the beach. I'm trying to track down creative people and capture what they're doing, and I think by taking these photos and putting them on my Tumblr, it's a way of sharing their work with my followers.
Outside of commercial photography, my biggest passion is documenting creatives. Another person I recently photographed is a painter. I just love getting access to their homes, their workspace, and getting an in-depth look at their lifestyle—places most people don't get to see—and I feel very privileged for the opportunity to do that, and am honored to share that on a platform like Tumblr.