To truly capture golden moments as a street photographer, you have to be a master of observation. The goal is to be a fly on the wall and snap people in their element. This is what what photographer / designer Giuseppe Santamaria calls “grabbing their essence.”
His brand Men in this Town started as a street style photo blog, where he documented men in the street who evoked confidence and strength through their style. He started the blog six years ago from Sydney, Australia and since then, it’s expanded to a book, a magazine, a store, and a following of over 500,000 that shows no signs of slowing down.
Giuseppe was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. In 2010, he started photographing stylish people in the street as a hobby and he posted his work to Tumblr to get some exposure. Giuseppe said that this was back when street style photography was just about to peak. He said, "I got there just in time to grab my audience." That audience has been with him for six years, and his timing was perfect for a few other reasons.
A graphic designer by trade, Giuseppe spent several years in editorial design at V Magazine and Good Weekend Magazine before making Men in This Town his full-time job in 2014. Six months after starting the Men in This Town blog, Tumblr flew him out to New York Fashion Week along with a few other select bloggers to document the shows and the streets. He was invited three years in a row. Then in his last few months as Deputy Art Director at Good Weekend Magazine, a freelance job photographing a cookbook turned into a relationship with Hardie Grant publishing. After a joking tweet to the publisher pitching a Men in This Town book, he had a book deal before his last day of work. A week later, he was on a two-month photo tour of the world, gathering material for his book. Giuseppe is really humble about all of it, calling the early growth of his brand “serendipitous,” but it takes a lot of focus and hustle to to be in the right place at the right time.
For Giuseppe, the mission of Men in This Town has always been to redefine and expand the perception of masculinity. By finding out more about these men on the street he said, "[It's] showing that there are so many ways that men are living their lives and there's not one way to be a man." The brand is breaking out of the internet cliques and the culture of exclusivity that is so common in the fashion world.
By keeping complete control of all aspects of Men in This Town, Giuseppe has been able to build on his vision and continue finding new places for the brand. After his success with the book, he launched MITT Magazine in March of 2015. With contributions from writers and photographers, he designs and publishes the biannual magazine, all while managing various brand collaborations and keeping up with the blog.
“There’s not one way to be a man.”
The design of the magazine is striking. Deep-etched, black and white photos of stylish guys pop out from solid blocks of bright color on matte covers. Giuseppe wanted the look of magazine to depart from the neutral tones of the blog, while still feeling like part of the brand. He found inspiration in vinyl record covers from the 50s and 60s and it shows. MITT distinctly stands out from stacks of shiny fashion magazines with a look that feels as classy as it does humble — not unlike Giuseppe himself.
But his eye for design and photography are only part of what make Men in This Town as successful as it is. While he’s capturing men’s style on the streets, he brings their stories to life by way of the podcast and the magazine. He thinks of the blog as style inspiration, while the magazine is life inspiration.
The impact of Men in This Town feels like it’s gone full circle and back to the streets with the opening of the MITT Mrkt this month — a new pop-up shop in Sydney. He's launching the store with Clara Ho, founder of Burton Metal Depository. By treating it as a sort of stand alone component of the brand, Giuseppe and Clara can work together to hire on more help and get the resources they need to keep it running smoothly. Giuseppe wants to treat the shop as a base for new concepts and events, like customer portraits and studio talks. It will be open for three years, and if things go well, they'll think about making it permanent.
“Keep it at a level that keeps you happy and entertained.”
With each ambitious new project, Giuseppe is still holding the reigns to make sure that everything looks and feels on-brand. He's the glue holding Men in This Town together, and he's careful not to do so much that he starts to lose control. He's inspired by the lifestyle of famous street photographer Bill Cunningham: “[Cunningham] knows how to be on the outside and sustain something for a long time, and it doesn't need to go much bigger than what it's doing now. [He keeps] it at a level that keeps [him] happy and entertained in life and that's what I look to do."
In the meantime, Giuseppe is still documenting the essence and evolution of street style on the Men in This Town blog and making a pervasive, lasting impact on what's fashionable for men.
Whether you want to get more of Men in This Town by magazine, blog, or store, you can find it all here.
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