Brazilian-born Lee Oliveira established his namesake business in 2010, initially as a blog showcasing street style imagery from global fashion weeks. The globally prominent photographer went from shooting bloggers influencers at fashion week, to educating and mentoring them. With years of honed observations and experiences, Lee saw and seized an opportunity to pursue this niche side career into a multi-faceted fashion business. With an informed approach which links styling, photography with creative consultancy, Lee helps foster the progression of the fashion blogger to sustain long term influence.
What drew your initial interest to the business of fashion?
My interest was in storytelling. Fashion is a form of art where self expression, visual ideas and imagination come together. Through styling, art direction, taking photos and capturing videos – I have been able to tell different pages of stories thought my eyes.
Your time in New York City kicked started your passion for street style photography. Was NYC essential in providing opportunities for your professional brand and own growth?
I’ve never lived in New York, I’ve been based in Sydney for over 10 years. When I started my career as a street photographer in 2010, my first attempt to a fashion week season was indeed New York in 2011. New York has a different energy that is similar yet individual from the other fashion capitals of the world. It is young, vibrant, expressive and it was a necessary to explore that in my life and that experience has shaped me to the Lee I am today. Various creatives and their modern-day versions can attest this – whether it can be Paris, Milan, London, New York, Istanbul, Tokyo, wherever. Each city like each job and experience is a cumulative chapter to the growing book that write ourselves (to those wanting to read and know more about us).
Why is learning on the job and building relationships so important in our industry?
Learning and networking is essential not just to this industry but throughout the modern-day world, especially with technology and social media. Personally, learning is an essential factor to grow professionally and personally as even the smallest factors can have the biggest rippling effects. Networking across industries is another key and valuable asset. As vast as this industry is with its multiple facets, everyone is connected not just through social media/Instagram but also amongst each other personally (even if it’s a least one- or two-degrees separation). It’s because of these connections – that help us in our everyday lives but overall objectives pending on project and deadlines (as the creative aspect always needs a full scope to come alive).
What is your best piece of professional advice?
Be creative, passionate, genuine and true to yourself and to others. This is part of your branding and only ‘you’ can help continue to shape and grow. Also, another one that has always been true – support those that support you. You start together, succeed together and long behold – become friends throughout life together.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
There are many memorable examples however meeting beloved Bill Cunningham was very special to me. Also shooting and filming superstars Bella and Gigi Hadid are definitely highlights thus far.
What do you believe is the key to cultivating a successful fashion profile?
Networking and learning but also being flexible, adaptable while staying true to one’s principles. Fashion is hard work, dedication, passion and a little glamorous but it can also be fun!
Where do you see social media in ten years’ time?
Social media will evolve to a streaming service network that is telling of one’s own experience and viewpoints, similar to now but live, and more tangible, three dimension and graphic.
Who do you feel is leading the influencer space right now?
There’s not just one talent but multiple whether they are in the fashion, beauty, travel, lifestyle worlds. It depends on which category or profession however – the goal is to utilize that voice and make a positive impact of awareness.
What are the more challenging aspects of your role?
Time is always a factor to consider as creating content takes not just creativity, but patience as well as multiple editing skills. That, and trying to always challenge yourself and trying to be constantly creative are other challenging aspects.
What is your favourite hat to wear?
All of them. From beginning to end, getting to see a story from its origins to its completion is just one ‘hat’ I like to wear however that’s just one fashion week and one city to many that occurs within the year. Sartorially speaking, I usually like to wear what I am most comfortable in, as I’m physically moving – but due take into consideration what also goes with my outfit of that day.
You’ve created a new business unit in the emerging powerhouse economy of Brazil. Can you tell us more about your role and any interesting insights?
I’ve been fortunate to have helped Brazil be seen in a global aspect however I’m not the first nor will be the last. To me, Brazilian culture is vibrant, wondrous and beautiful – but that is also everyone and everywhere. In my constant travels and many fashion weeks, when you are truly passionate about what you do, that message comes across fully.
What is next for you Lee?
My next trip will be January for the men’s season in Florence and Milan. For now, I’m happy to be at home in Sydney enjoying our current summer!