Interview Series: Shelley Neuman
Shelley Neuman, creator of blog ATX Street Style, on capturing Austin’s most fashion-forward
by Holly Cowart
Shelley Neuman has an eye for style. With one glance at her blog, ATX Street Style (@atxstreetstyle for the Instagram-savvy), it’s obvious that the striking portraits are born out of a love for finding all things fashionable within our city. And while she now looks chic rocking an ‘80s pantsuit and feels comfortable casually dropping the names of local trendsetters, this wasn’t always the case.
After graduating in Photojournalism from the University of Texas in 2011, Neuman wanted a project where she could continue expressing her creativity through photography. With a pre-existing passion for perusing style blogs, the idea struck to combine the two. A few Google searches confirmed a lack of blogs dedicated to documenting Austin’s collective style, spurring the creation of ATX Street Style.
I recently met with Neuman at the charming east side cafe, Cenote, to learn more about her process and the evolution of Austin’s style scene.
Was it difficult getting started?
Since I had a background in journalism, I was already used to going up and talking to people I didn’t know, but to this day I still struggle sometimes when I see someone who is super stylish. Luckily 9 times out of ten people are extremely flattered and want their picture taken. There’s not as many people walking around here as there is in New York, so that’s definitely harder.
So why fashion, specifically? Did you already have a passion for it?
No, I don’t think I was stylish at all when I started my blog. I was just very curious about other people’s style and mostly wanted to know, when I saw someone on the street, where they got their clothes from. And that’s kind of how I built my own style.
Do you have a most memorable moment photographing someone?
Do you know who The Polyphonic Spree is? They’re a band that has around 30 members in it and they all dress in these crazy costumes. At South by [Southwest] one year I saw a guy wearing this wild looking robe-like top that had a crazy pattern all over it. So I went up and asked if I could take his picture. I usually ask people’s occupation too, because I find that interesting, and he said “Oh, I’m the lead singer of The Polyphonic Spree.” Then he told me his mother-in-law makes all of their outfits, which I thought was funny.
The friend I was with denies it, but I swear when they were on stage singing at one point he replaced one of the lyrics with my name and pointed at me. So that was one of those moments I thought was really cool.
What style makes you stop someone? Is there something specific you look for?
I’m looking for people whose whole outfit sets them apart in a way. I like interesting patterns and people who don’t look like everything that I see in advertisements. I’m also really attracted to shoes.
Do you have an area of Austin that you consider the most stylish?
Probably the east side. I know the owner of Charm School Vintage, which used to be located on Cesar Chavez in the same building as Coco Coquette, which is a wig store. They were a little collective and would throw parties all of the time and there would always be really cool people there.
Describe Austin’s sense of style in 3 words.
Comfortable, eccentric, and…dichotomy? That’s not really descriptive – but I like it when people mix newer pieces with older pieces; thrift finds with high end stuff. So whatever word describes that.
Have you noticed an evolution in style or a change in the industry in Austin since you began?
There are definitely a lot more vintage stores than there used to be. And a lot more makers and pop-up markets where there’s people that maybe have a couple of big brands that they sell, but for the most part they’re homegrown.
I like REALM a lot; She does a lot of cool embroidered stuff. Another one is Thrift Town on Manchaca, where I recently discovered that my favorite part of the thrift store is the old lady blouse section.
What are your favorite style blogs currently?
I love The Sartorialist and Tommy Ton, but as far as people’s personal style, there’s a great blogger called A Fashion Nerd. Her style is very colorful – I think she describes it on her Instagram as being a combination of Gucci and Wes Anderson.
I also follow this online publication called The Style Line. It started on Tumblr and now it’s a big online style destination. The editor, Rachel Schwartzmann, interviews a lot of brands that are eco-friendly and sustainable, which I like.
Do you have a favorite festival that you’ve shot?
It no longer exists anymore, but I really liked shooting Austin Psych Fest. Fun Fun Fun Fest and Sound on Sound were also amazing. Those are my favorites for sure.
What do you do when you’re not photographing Austin’s style?
I’m working with a fashion consulting business right now called INTL Velvet, which is run by Jessica Thompson, whom I met through my blog. I’ve been working with her on outreach for a couple of the brands she manages.
One of them is a sustainable shoewear line named Huma Blanco. The designer is from Peru, but the shoeline is based in Austin and they’re really beautiful.
I’m also trying to do more product photography and editorial for different brands. Most recently, I photographed for SUAVS, which is a sneaker brand based in Austin. I also have a friend who runs a t-shirt line called Hauntwell, and I’ve shot all of her lookbooks.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
I’m trying to figure that out right now. I have dreams of starting a podcast, although it wouldn’t be street style related. My best friend and I are both into dressing up in costumes, so I’ve been talking to her about creating a podcast about costumes and style in general, where we would interview different people who work in that realm.
Occupation: Photographer & Content Marketer
Pantsuit & Shirt: Thrifted at Thrift Town
Shoes: Nordstrom Rack
Necklace: Julie Nolan Jewelry
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.