When the Sartorialist was founded by Scott Schuman in 2005, it was a small blog devoted to capturing stylish, unknown men (and eventually women) as they walked through the streets and attended fashion shows. By 2008, photographers like Tommy Ton and Phil Oh were gaining attention for their blogs — Jak & Jil and Streetpeeper — as they snapped editors like Taylor Tomasi-Hill, Joanna Hillman, and Kate Lanphear 0utside the shows. Though they were known in the industry, none of these women had attracted the rabid, style-icon status they hold now. Because as photographers slowly noticed chic editors, so too did editors notice the photographers; that’s what got us to the change-in-the-car, call-in-full-runway-looks, pose-for-the-camera moments that now define much of Fashion Week’s street style. Now the trade event follows a set of rules that often involve weeks (or even months) of careful planning and good designer relationships.
Which is not to say that street style is a bad thing: It’s inspirational and educational. These ladies who are photographed have a keen understanding of creating looks and styling interesting outfits for their jobs, so it was only natural that they used that knowledge and applied it to themselves. But it took some time for them to reach their true potential, as they say, and it’s fascinating to comb through the archives and look back at these stars (and their wardrobe choices) before the clothing became so intentional. To be fair, Kate Lanphear has kept things pretty consistent. But click ahead to view some of street style’s most favorite subjects back in the day, before New York fashion kicks off with a whole new set of carefully planned outfits.