Wonderland.

LEE JEANS × JAMEL SHABAZZ

For SS19, the iconic denim brand has teamed up with one of New York’s OG streetwear photographers.

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign dungarees

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign dungarees
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz

Who doesn’t love a throwback? And for their SS19 campaign, aptly titled “Back to Today,” Lee Jeans have teamed up with legendary street style photographer, Jamel Shabazz.

To celebrate the American brand’s historical hip-hop credentials, “Back To Today” looks to evoke the same attitude and spirit sourced in its archive images from the swaggy 80s B-boy era. Obsessed.

Shabazz is renowned for capturing some of the most iconic street style snaps from New York’s early burgeoning hip hop scene. Old school baker boy caps, XXL hoop earrings, and of course, some exceptional double denim looks feature in the SS19 campaign, where Shabazz enlists the help of his network of street-cast New Yorkers.

We chatted to acclaimed Brooklyn-born photographer about New York “flava”, 80s style and his long-running relationship with Lee Jeans…

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign skinny jeans
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign double denim

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign skinny jeans
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign double denim

When did you first pick up a camera?
It was in 1975 at the age of 15 that I decided I wanted to be a photographer. My father, who was also a photographer, gave me the sound advice of carrying my camera everywhere I went, so I have been doing just that almost every day since then. I knew early on that the work I was documenting would one day be important. I started out on this journey with the notion of never being without memory, so the images I documented during the course of my life are all a part of a visual diary that I knew would have greater meaning as time went on.

What do you love about street style photography in particular?
With all honesty, I always thought street style photography was popular. Two of the most notable photographers whose work stands out for me are Helmut Newton and Gordon Parks, as they both had very unique ways of capturing style in the streets. I am just continuing on that creative path that was paved for me. Young people I meet on the streets may not be as skilled as professional models, but I like that natural flava and swag they bring on set, by simply being themselves.

You were one of the most renowned photographers at the forefront of the early hip hop scene in New York – what did you love about this era?
New York City in particular represented the birth of hip hop, and all the swag that it brought to the musical industry here and around the world. What I miss most about the early 1980s, was the period before the crack and AIDS epidemic plagued New York City. For me, it was a hopeful time where people had mutual respect for one another, and children were not afraid to play outside. Once those two epidemics hit, life as I once knew it would never be the same. What I hope to revive and inspire in my current work is a feeling of hope and joy.

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign b-boys
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign couple on car

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz

Lee Jeans SS19 campaign b-boys
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign, shot by Jamel Shabazz
Lee Jeans SS19 campaign couple on car

How do you think style has progressed from the 80s?
Based upon the comments left on my various social media feeds concerning the old school style of dress, I find that a lot of youth from this generation have great admiration for the way the youth of the 80s dressed and represented themselves. This appeal may be rooted in the fact that everyone had their own individual style. Today, the basic style of young people is pretty much the same to the point many look almost identical. Take for instance the white tee shirt and the hoodie. In the US, it has become an outfit that you can see young males representing coast to coast and there is no real distinction anymore that separates them apart from the next person.

How did the Lee Jeans collaboration come about?
In regards to the collaboration, representatives of Lee actually reached out to me. I agreed to shoot the campaign for Lee, because it allowed me an opportunity to come out of retirement and be creative, while capturing a brand that represented my youth.

Were you a fan of the brand before this?
My personal relationship with the brand goes back to my teenage years growing up in Brooklyn. During the 70s and 80s, Lee was the brand of choice.

What is your goal with your photography? How do you want to make people feel?
I am driven to use my gift of the craft of photography, to inspire and enlighten. From the daily feedback that I receive through messages on my various social media feeds, it appears that I am making a noticeable difference with numerous people across the globe. Even if it is just a simple communication with an aspiring photographer who embraces my approach or it could be an individual who wants to connect to get advice on documenting people in their communities, because they recognise that their own individual greatness is a good starting point in making a difference in this world.

Jamel Shabazz vintage images group
Jamel Shabazz vintage images couple twinning
Jamel Shabazz vintage images bonnet car

Images from Jamel Shabazz’s Back In The Days book

Jamel Shabazz vintage images group
Images from Jamel Shabazz’s Back In The Days book
Jamel Shabazz vintage images couple twinning
Jamel Shabazz vintage images bonnet car
Photography
Jamel Shabazz
Words
Maybelle Morgan
LEE JEANS × JAMEL SHABAZZ

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