Ever walked passed a woman and thought, where did she get that? Clemence Poles, the creative mind behind Passerbuys, set out on a project to find out more about the many mysterious, interesting women we pass by on the street everyday. She created a site that operated partly as an intimate journal of these womens’ lives and shoppable experience for readers. She profiles creative women from around the world, finds out what they’re real lives are really like, which is equal parts refreshing and inspiring in the age of the celebrity influencer. We visited Clemence in her Brooklyn apartment to learn a little more about her, the parallels she sees in creative women and the importance of promoting realness.
Tell us a little bit about how the idea for Passerbuys came to be?
The idea came about from my frustration with fashion/inspiration websites. I’d keep seeing the same types of women and same types of product, and the features wouldn’t explore further than beauty routines and clothing. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, and I still look at those sites for inspiration, but I just sought more out of the experience; there just wasn’t an alternative and the tone of these features felt like they were instructing you on how life should be lived. Passerbuys came about because I wanted to create something that leveled the field of inspiration, and showcase how everyone is killing it in their own way, be a programmer, nurse or model.
You’ve lived in a few different cities, how do you feel a place inspires your sense of style/who you are? Where do you feel the most “you”?
I’m Parisian in New York and a New Yorker in Paris. Gotta keep things interesting, and contrast is everything.
Can you tell me a little bit about your place and how you decorated it?
Ok, so my place is still a work in progress. It’s hard to decorate a place when you’re in a relationship! The way I’ve gone about decorating my place as of late, is by removing things that are not useful and working towards having a huge bookshelf that’ll set the tone for the entire apartment. I like dried flowers, mid century furniture etc.
The sort of universal go-to method women use to connect with other women they don’t already know is to comment on what they are wearing. Where do you think that comes from?
Women typically pay more attention to what they are wearing and how they present themselves to the world, it’s not always fun, and as effortless we are trying to make that seem. So acknowledging that is like the ultimate compliment, it’s kind of like ‘hey, I notice what you did there, it’s awesome’ – I think the comment is more tied into on our personal experience and so makes that connection so natural and real.
Where do you find the women you feature on your site?
It’s really been a mix, since the concept revolves around “that women that passes you by”, it’ll be exactly that, a woman I see on the subway, or at the cafe or on my way to work – then I’ll have recommendations from the women I’ve featured – it kind has snowballed from that since.
Why did you choose to just feature women?
That’s what I’m interested in but doesn’t mean I won’t explore beyond that in the future.
What has been the biggest revelation or surprise you’ve discovered after digging into the lives of these women?
How difficult it is for women to perceive their own strengths. I’m no exception and it is somewhat natural I think to doubt oneself, but I think we need to heal that part of us that is always stressed out about our appearance and what we stand for – I hope Passerbuys is proof that style and grace is natural and we all have it.
You mention the desire to promote ‘realness’ in women, which is pretty refreshing in a world filled with Instagram influencers, how would you define that in terms of your subjects and their lives?
I try to show a somewhat raw glimpse into the lives of women but with style in mind. Obviously, we are all ‘real’ but then photoshop comes in, lighting, stylist, makeup artist and so forth, and all that kind of strips away that ‘realness’. I try to avoid that, and shoot these women in their personal space as casually as possible, I want these features to feel like conversations with your girlfriend – like “oh, you HAVE to read this book I’m reading, it’s talks about this…”, or “I tried this moisturizer it was crap, but now I use this”.
As a creative, what inspires you (books, films, art, nature, etc)
Films all the way – I religiously go to Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Given that you attempt to reveal the real, natural habitats of women, what do you think people would be surprised to know about you and your real life?
Well I’m a huge fan of the band Tool, which usually catches people off guard, ha.
Beyond being an editor and becoming friends with some of the coolest creative women, what are your aspirations for the future? (Could be personal, professional).
I really want to take this project global, and not just the typical fashion locales of Paris, London & Milan (although currently working on that). Small towns and villages interest me. too.