Ryne Williams spent his downtime in college the way most millennials do–scrolling through Instagram. Inspired by the images that appeared on his timeline, he asked for a camera for Christmas, and his mother obliged. The Houston native, then a sophomore at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, found he had a knack for the hobby and further pursued it, recruiting his friends to model for him and, in his last semester of college, taking a photography course.
The recent graduate merged his newfound passion with a long-standing interest in fashion to eventually form Styles of Houston, an offshoot of a similar project he developed in school called Fashions of Brandeis. There, he'd snap photos of fashionable co-eds on campus and ask what their style meant to them; the results, posted to Facebook, were instantly popular. Two degrees and two months later, Williams moved back down south and turned his lens on well-heeled Houstonians. Houstonia chatted with him about his project, stylish Houstonians, and why Houston should be the next fashion capital of the U.S.
What is this project about?
Styles of Houston gives people a chance to express themselves and showcase their authenticity respective to their style. Houston is so diverse, resulting in a variety of styles. Styles of Houston not only brings the city together, but it allows Houstonians and the entire world to get a better understanding of our fashionable and amazing citizens. The positive messages behind this project are endless, from giving style inspiration to helping others accept each person's uniqueness.
What's your goal with Styles of Houston?
My passion for fashion, art, and photography has always been at the root of all my work. My goal is to raise awareness of the concept to bring out the best fashion artists and everyday people of Houston ... [I want to] meet and inspire everyday Houstonians to continue to express their different styles and lifestyles while collectively contributing to the Styles of Houston brand and concept.
How do you decide who to feature?
I mainly decide who to feature from social media, specifically Instagram, as I have contacted people and vice versa to be part of the project. I’ve even done it in a Humans of New York-style by going to malls, explaining the concept to fashionable Houstonians, and later setting up a time to feature them. Everyone has their own uniqueness with their style, and I want to document and showcase it all.
What draws you to the people you approach?
What stands out most about a person’s fashion to me is their confidence. I absolutely love seeing people comfortable in their own skin as they exude their sense of self-confidence through clothing. It’s a magnetic feeling, and I’m pulled to photograph their style. Bold pieces, eye-popping colors, or even simple garments—the fearlessness with which someone shows off their style attracts me to photograph them.
What has documenting Houston's street style revealed to you about the city?
It's shown me just how diverse this city is—diverse is probably an understatement. The style that this city possesses is incredible. Each Houstonian has a mind of their own and is not [afraid] to showcase their style, no matter how eye-popping or jaw-dropping it may seem. It's what makes this city so beautiful. From young to older, male to female, I have not come across any individuals who have similar styles. It makes it seem impossible that Houston isn't a top fashion capital in this country.