- At first thought, fashion may seem like an unlikely subject to cover on podcasts since it’s a visual medium, but its sociological, historical, and cultural significance is impossible to quantify. Fashion is a subject that gives podcasters endless material and often touches on adjacent subjects such as pop culture, lifestyle, and sustainability.
- Fashion podcasts are big business so it’s no surprise that some of the most successful ones are being created by influencers, fashion historians, indie designers, and even luxury brands including Margiela, Gucci, and Dior. While it’s necessary to secure sponsorship in order to make a profit, many podcasts generated by fashion brands enable brand building and generate interest in their clothing.
- Podcasts started by industry insiders that aim to motivate and help aspiring designers and fashion entrepreneurs are a unique resource that has emerged in the space.
In our capitalist culture, where everyone is encouraged to ‘hustle harder’ and, by extension, multitasking is celebrated as required behavior for success, it’s not surprising that podcasts have become a fixture in our homes. Podcasts allow us to listen to interviews and stories that entertain and inform us about pop culture, true crime, medical mysteries, and more while we cook, clean, or commute to work. With more than two million active podcasts last year—an increase of approximately 75% since 2018, according to Podcast Insights 2021—it’s hard to imagine that number not continuing to increase over the next few years. It should come as no surprise then that many podcasts related to a topic as expansive and divisive as fashion have become de rigueur for fans and insiders alike. Topics as diverse as fashion as historical record, commodity, and deep dives into the industry itself have emerged in the space over the last few years. We rounded up the definitive fashion podcasts that should be on your radar and explain why below.
Started by fashion historian Jasmine Helm and textile conservator Dana Goodin with insight from fashion historian Joy Davis, Unravel aims to contextualize fashion “beyond the canon of traditional fashion media and history” by bringing in conversations with BIPOC, and queer voices in the field. Episodes cover everything from the history of the Panama hat, the black experience in academia as a conservator, to titillating topics such as the history and symbolism of the nipple in art and fashion.
GQ’s weekly style podcast hosted by the tome’s style editor Noah Johnson, style writer Rachel Tashjian, and associate style editor Samuel Hine explores style via fashion design and how that influences our culture at large. The hosts wax poetic about the bygone days of Phoebe Philo’s Celine, review fashion week shows and critique the best celebrity fits. Past guests have included musician Devendra Banhart, poet Rachel Rabbit White, and playwright Jeremy O. Harris.
CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS with Suzy Menkes
This podcast is hosted by British journalist and fashion critic Suzy Menkes. Menkes provides in-depth conversations with fashion insiders, including leading designers, executives, and fashion thinkers. Past episodes have featured interviews with everyone from celebrated designers including Marine Serre, Demna Gvasalia, and Nadège Vanhee Cybulski.
DRESSED: The History of Fashion
Exploring the social and cultural histories behind garments is the main focus of this podcast hosted by April Calahan and Cassidy Zachary. For anyone that is eager to learn about the vast and complex world of style, this is the podcast for you. Past episodes have included interviews with fashion historians, delved into the history of the corset, traditional dress in the United Arab Emirates, and profiled designers of the past such as Mary Quant.
The CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
This podcast is hosted by NY fashion designer Recho Omondi. Omondi lifts the veil on the fashion industry’s secrets and doesn’t shy away from discussing the industry’s darker side. Past episodes have explored the systematic racism rampant throughout the industry, fashion’s complicity in environmental degradation, and conversations with industry insiders from Diet Prada, Mickey Drexler, and Heron Preston.
Hosted by Kestrel Jenkins, this podcast focuses on conversations about ethical fashion—how the industry can reduce the negative impact on people, animals, and the environment. Past episodes have explored the effects of secondhand clothing going digital, embracing upcycling, and how augmented reality could impact sustainable fashion. Guests have included Céline Semaan Vernon of Slow Factory, Lauren Bartley, the head of sustainability at Ganni, and author Maxine Bédat.
SUCCESSFUL FASHION FREELANCER
This podcast hosted by Sew Heidi is for those hoping to break into the industry or go into business for themselves. Each episode tackles steps to start your own fashion freelance business by interviewing successful professionals who have launched freelance careers and covers essential skills like predicting trends like a trend forecaster, creating a tech pack, and seamlessly transitioning to freelance after working in-house.
THE MENSWEAR STYLE PODCAST
This podcast is hosted by the lifestyle editor Peter Brooker of MENSWEAR STYLE, a UK-based online magazine about male fashion. Brooker interviews many of the most innovative designers and entrepreneurs working in fashion worldwide for the series to pick their brains on topics such as eCommerce, marketing, and sustainability. Past guests have included Cormac Folan, the co-founder of Alder & Green Footwear, Nick Reed, the founder of Neem London; and Sally Hughes, the founder of Kair, a premium laundry detergent brand.
THIS OLD THING?
Hosted by the former fashion editor of influential magazine Cheap Date and British Vogue, Bay Garnett has her guests recount their most memorable outfits. The series celebrates vintage fashion and discusses the joys of secondhand style and thrifting. Past guests have included actress Chloe Sevigny, journalist Pandora Sykes, and sustainability activist Aja Barber. So if you’re nostalgic for the ’90s back when celebrities dressed themselves for movie premieres and weren’t made up by stylists, this is the podcast for you.
POP FASHION PODCAST
Lisa Rowan and Kaarin Vembar have hosted this comedy podcast since 2014, covering all aspects of fashion news in an easy-to-digest format. The podcast informs listeners about the latest retail openings and closings, runway looks, and it also features personal style interviews. Rowan is a consumer finance reporter at Forbes Advisor, and Vembar is an editor for a trade publication. Both hosts bring their knowledge to this series, but the tone is informal and light.
ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Created by Avery Trufelman, this podcast is a completed two-season miniseries within the 99% Invisible Podcast worth a listen. The 99% Invisible Podcast explores “all of the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about,” and Trufelman’s series applies the same journalistic integrity and research to articles of clothing for the miniseries. Each episode excavates topics such as why womenswear doesn’t have functional pockets, our obsession with denim, and how to tell whether a Hawaiian shirt is authentic. Trufelman interviews fashion historians, authors, and designers to get to the crux of her stories, which are interlocking and uncovering truths about American society and culture.
It’s safe to say that podcasting has permanently evolved from a niche pastime to industry darling. The recent investments from major technology players such as Apple, Google, and Spotify prove that podcasting is big business and necessary for brand building across most industries. As a result, the sector is expected to show positive growth and continue to attract new listeners as new platforms emerge that provide users with information about their listeners’ demographics which are vital to securing sponsorships for monetization (BOF). Ultimately, successful podcasting comes down to the ability to tell a story well in order to connect with an audience. Similarly, fashion is about storytelling to forge a relationship between the consumer and the garment. With the recent cultural shift towards conversations about social justice, sustainability initiatives, and amplifying BIPOC voices, the podcast space is ripe for more fashion-centric podcasts in 2022 and beyond.