‘Spring/Summer 2008’ is a series of portraits showing Senegalese beach vendors at the Tuscan coast. The title of this project is connected to the seasonal fashions that year-by-year fuel the desire to own and display the latest trendy clothes and accessories.

For this project, we met and studied the people who are forced to work on the edge of today’s consumer society. The Senegalese are the primary ethnic group that migrates to Italy and lives here without legal status. (They are joined by Romanians, Albanese, Moroccans and Chinese, as well.)

One main reason they are here is because of a fishing crisis in Senegal, which is a result of the globalization of the fishing towns into vacation resorts.

Since most immigrants are not protected by any social security system, neither from their home countries, nor from the Italian immigration policy, they are forced to resort to cheap and illegal labor. These street vendors are called "Vu' cumprà” a malapropism of their pronunciation of the daily question "Vuoi comprare?" (Would you like to buy?).

Especially cheap copies of famous brands and luxury products, such as handbags, T-shirts, sunglasses and belts, sell well on the beaches. The vendors are hunted by the police — and loved by the bargain-hunting, fashion-conscious tourists.

This series plays off a classical aesthetic of fashion photography, showing the vendors in the unusual positions of models who could come directly from the cover page of a magazine. However, the models‘ faces are never visible. The person disappears in disguise: men and women in-between loud advertising, hiding their existence in illegality.

— Gianmaria Gava