The 1MOQ Syllabus

10 Books Every Fashion Person Should Read (Part 4)

Key Takeaways

  1. This is 1MOQ's very own syllabus (now at its fourth edition): a list in non-hierarchical order of books related to fashion in any possible way.
  2. You can judge a book by its cover! And you can judge a book by its style. After all, what it matters is: not every "fashion book" must be about fashion. Style is everywhere in literature, and you can learn from it.
  3. Buy books, read books, keep books, re-read books—and again! This is what fashion education means.

In this fourth edition of the 1MOQ Syllabus, we edit a non-hierarchical list of books to inspire the fashion-engaged from every angle. Ranging from novels of the well-dressed and conversations about collaborations to investigations of American pop culture to theoretical takes on postcolonial theory in fashion, this multi-genre collation offers a variety of ways for designers, stylists, editors, buyers, and others to think through fashion and the culture we wear it in.

This list doesn’t aim at being over-encompassing, nor does it claim to be exactly right. These are titles that are fashion-adjacent, rather than fashion-centered—a quality that we always appreciated in literature. Whether you are a designer, a stylist, an editor, or a buyer, if you wish to succeed in the fashion business, you need to learn things the hard way: reading.

George Lois, Iconic America
Brought to you by art director-extraordinaire George Lois, this book is a celebration of American pop culture that captures the unique qualities and eclecticism of American design and its influence on international culture in a colorful array of more than 350 iconic people, symbols, memorabilia, and other examples of Americana. Setting the blueprint for Tommy Hilfiger’s brand—for which Lois created its most powerful ads—this title is a must-have. Iconic book.

Richard Avedon, Advertising
I mean, a true classic! The Madison Avenue-era bible of fashion advertising by one of the most revered and influential photographers of all times. Avedon Advertising tells this story, reproducing memorable ads that range from the buoyant 1940s and 1950s, when post-war prosperity opened up new experiences to consumers; through the explosive ’60s; and into the era defined by celebrity culture and global brand awareness.

Elke Gaugele, Monica Titton (Eds.), Fashion and Postcolonial Critique
Published in 2019 by Sternberg Press, this book outlines a critical global fashion theory from a postcolonial perspective. Each of the contributions develops and expands the work of key thinkers from W. E. B. Du Bois’s visual sociology to Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic: Fashion and Postcolonial Critique will prove seminal for scholars in textile and design history, in fashion communications, and also in cultural studies and sociology.

Sterling Ruby & Raf Simons, Beyond the Collaboration
Could there ever be a more contemporary book? Offering complimentary perspectives on a bond that has matured over the span of a decade, and a body of work that transcends boundaries, Ruby and Simons spoke with mutual respect, trust, and a deep investment in the future. This is a story, and an exchange, that is beyond collaboration.

Clarissa M. Esguerra, Michaela Hansen (Eds.), Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse
Slated for May 2022, this book documents the designer’s diverse sources of inspiration by displaying McQueen’s imaginative fashions alongside related artworks. Spanning art from a multitude of mediums, eras and cultures, this publication provides a new and innovative assessment of McQueen’s work and highlights his mindful approach to storytelling and construction through fashion.

Sean Thor Conroe, Fuccboi
A novel. “A fearless and savagely funny examination of masculinity under late capitalism from an electrifying new voice.” For sure one of the hottest titles of the season. Call it millennial literature (or Grailed-Bro-prose), Fuccboi renders the style, attitude and modus operandi of an entire generation.

Teri Agins, The End of Fashion
Want to make it in the fashion industry? Some will say you *have* to read this book. Although there’s literally no book that could make you make it, this one is a good start. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal reporter Teri Agins astutely explores the seminal change in fashion, laying bare all aspects of the industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing.

Alec Leach, The World Is On Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes
Debut book by author and sustainability advocate-slash-consultant Alec Leach. After years spent in the trenches of the fashion media industry, Leach works in the sustainable fashion space with clients, brands, institutions and designers. He describes his first book as a “manifesto / roadmap / journey toward a better relationship with fashion.”

Vince Aletti, Issues: A history of photography in Fashion magazines
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t feature Vince Aletti in this syllabus (google “Vince Aletti house” and you’ll see). The collector and critic selects here 100 significant magazine issues from his expansive personal archive, revealing images by photographers rarely seen outside their original context. A true gem!

Alexandra Schwartz, Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art
The catalogue (forthcoming May 2022) for the first global survey exhibition dedicated to the use of clothing as a medium of visual art, this book chronicles contemporary art’s engagement with costume. Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art shows how visual artists around the globe are using garments to examine issues of subjectivity, identity and difference. Fashion education!