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Almost every day, around 1:00 a.m., Maurice Kamara takes his lunch break from selling clothes in a luxury boutique in Soho and gets down to his real job: taking videos of people’s outfits for TikTok. The 35-year-old Brooklyn native strolls the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets in a large loop, intently scanning passersby for viral gold. Kamara, whose fashion site The Folk Gallery has over 500,000 followers between TikTok and Instagram, has an open mind to anyone and any style. He has caught one guy named Cris wearing a vintage Michael Jackson t-shirt and a gorgeous Chopova Lowena skirt, and Aziz Ansari in a Japanese chore coat and navy blue chinos. The quality that connects both is Kamara’s unique, discerning eye. During fashion week, I follow along and get a look at his process in action. Strolling down Wooster St, we pass an elegant woman dressed as a rich cowboy with a suede jacket, flared jeans and a Rolex on her wrist. Her, I’m asking? Kamara shakes his head. His curation is a combination of wattage – the Ansaris of the neighborhood – and pure intuition. “I just see that person and I know: it fits,” says Kamara.
In 2022, there are only a few surefire ways to blow up your personal style profile. One of them is to be featured on TPG, where the best videos get millions of views and can draw tens of thousands of followers to your page. Therefore, as we go, Kamara is fielding incoming texts from someone at Tory Burch asking if he can shoot videos for the brand’s show later that evening. (He can’t — he’s on call to close up shop.) It’s why Coach hired him for a few sponsored videos this season, and why he was a guest at Marni’s blowout Brooklyn show earlier this week — his first ever fashion show. Madonna has expressed interest in doing a video, and “every record company in America,” as Kamara puts it, has reached out and asked him to shoot their up-and-coming artists. So far, he’s kept the site largely organic. “Sometimes the famous get a pass,” he says. “But mainly I’m just trying to find the dumbest fits.” To a certain type of highly online Gen-Z fashion fan, Kamara is basically a modern version of the Sartorialist or Bill Cunningham—a guy who documents proper fit and subcultural style, yet is finely attuned to the ebb and flow of impact. He is quick to mention it A$AP Rocky, Bella Hadidand Frank Ocean are avowed fans of the site, even if they haven’t put up any videos – at least not yet.
The real beauty of Kamara’s videos isn’t necessarily in the fashion, but in his pure, raw enthusiasm behind the lens. Eventually we reach the corner of Prince and Mercer, Kamara’s favorite hunting ground, where the one-two punch of scene-y spots Fanelli’s and the Mercer Hotel draw big game. “This is my area,” he says. Jared Leto walks by in tight jeans and ON running shoes. Kamara gives him a quick up-down. “Yeah, it’s not,” he says. Suddenly his patience pays off: a woman in a bright orange skirt and Sacai tuxedo shirt blazer strolls by. Kamara runs after her, phone in hand. After quickly showing her the TPG page, Kamara goes into the disarming and Internet-famous script he uses in most videos: “Hey, how are you today? What’s your name and where are you from?” If she was nervous at first, Bea from Oregon cracks a smile and loosens up as Kamara continues his rapid fire delivery, drenched in a deep Brooklyn accent. TPG is a great place to find style inspiration, but it’s a great place to watch joy-inducing human interactions, thanks to Kamara’s staccato ad-libs. Sacai shirt? “Dayum!” Off-White x Nike sneakers? “Stop playing with her! Yes!” Gucci bag? “Okay!” Vintage Dior scarf? “Oh my god, you look amazing today.” There are plenty of fit checks on TikTok, but Kamara’s best videos are pure shots of virality. A video with Lil Uzi Vert ends with Uzi opening a Goyard bag to reveal stacks of money inside, to Kamara’s hooting. It’s both incredibly funny and strangely heartwarming – a perfect TikTok if ever there was one.