We’re all about appropriating the dad and tito vibe nowadays, but there’s still something about how actual old people do it that feels so authentic. In fact, it captivated local photographer Ralph Mendoza enough to start a street style project, focusing his lens on the surprisingly cohesive fits of golden oldies: the @mendostreet IG. We ask him for some thoughts to go along with the sweet pictures.
Man, we don’t know what life at fifty has in store, but we now have our peg for how to look at that age at least.
What do you think draws us (young people) to this aesthetic anyway?
When I started my “Old is Gold” series a few years ago, I wanted to collect all those times seniors gave me something unexpected. I think senior style is coming from an honest place that dresses for comfort and mutual respect. Their wardrobe spans decades of style—it's a history lesson. I've seen seniors effortlessly wear Versace, Fendi, and Porter to the wet market, then balance the high end with with old Reebok or Mizuno, or local garments and pants made to order by their village tailor in Taipei or Tokyo. Rare, unexpected, effortless, and functional in terms of style, fit, and color. Who wouldn't be drawn to this?
Do you think the quality and style of your photography helps “make” these looks? Like, we imagine shooting these in a studio with glam lighting would kill the vibe.
They're in their natural element so I try to shoot them in natural light. But the thing about street style photography is there aren't many rules to yield to. Who knows, I might even bring some of these seniors in for a studio shoot. I can make that work, too.
Majority (if not all) of your shots come from abroad—how do our local oldies hold up against them? We think these seniors have the cheat code that is layer-friendly weather though.
Nah, local is where it started for me. Sometimes I just park myself in Cubao or the Market Market food court outside and shoot. I would see a florist in a Ferrari sports jacket, or a delivery guy smoking, wearing an oversized cream windbreaker. You can layer locally in the rain, the malls, and during events, but it has to be in a lightweight, breathable way. In hotter weather, I've seen old guys sport inverted Hawaiian shirts and fake LV glasses—it's still a cool look. Or someone with election campaign shirts with the sleeves trimmed with scissors. People surprise me here. I see a lot of playful, weather-appropriate styles. Sometimes, functional workwear gets me, too. Gardeners and construction workers in layers—that kind of thing. There's street style everywhere, even locally.
Have we reached peak dad fashion yet?
Fast fashion seems to imply that we've peaked already—dad caps, mom jeans, oversized polos, the works. But what is real dad fashion anyway? I know a 29-year old dad that dresses norm as fuck—boat shoes, cuffed khaki shorts, tight fit polo. He's a dad and that's his real fashion.
Senior style is on another level. It's a lifestyle not meant to be 100 percent copied. I'm not saying senior style is superior to real dad style. It's just different. I'd hate it if influencers were to claim they've reached “peak dad fashion” when all these seniors have reached real “peak dad fashion” 40 years ago. We ain't worthy.
Check out Ralph’s other IG at https://www.instagram.com/ralphmendo for chicks and stuff when you’re done stealing senior style tips, fam!