In my bedroom is a framed article about winter sunglasses, featuring an image of Blondie, by Colin McDowell when he was Senior Fashion Writer for The Sunday Times Style magazine. As a teenager growing up in the early 1990s, I used to pour over his cultural and historical analysis of diverse sartorial objects; these were mythologies of fashion in the making. And, there was nothing else quite like it in any other UK newspaper or, come to think of it, fashion magazines such as Elle, Vogue or Marie Clare at the time. Similarly, when I discovered Worn Journal in 2004, I had the same response, something I wrote about here.
Looking at my saved McDowell article, I began to think about who in the UK currently writes about fashion and dress in an interesting way, perhaps taking unusual angles on well known subjects or introducing us to unknown topics. Who do I frequently read or refer to on the topic? Who do others turn to? For many, identifying with common fashioned voices can take a long time as we often have to rely on serendipity and diligent curiosity, drawing upon disparate sources in order to create some sort of shared community. In fact, I had to wait until Worn Journal before I could really begin to identify with fashion writers, most of whom were based in North America. But, what about UK fashion writers?
In 2013, the Guardian launched a platform for a range of fashion blogs which showed the potential for hearing new voices, seeing things differently and broadening our everyday understanding of our clothed lives. In particular, I liked The Invisible Woman with her interest in fashion for older women and Costume and Culture, an academic interested in fashion. Unfortunately, these diverse blogs disappeared from the Guardian website at the end of 2014, which I think is a shame given that it was advantageous to have such a range within one site. Of course, VICE UK and ShowStudio both play an invaluable role in imaginatively covering fashion and dress stories that popular printed media tends to avoid. But, despite their plethora of contributors, I have yet to identify specific writers there that speak directly to me about dress and clothes.
Realising I needed to start looking out for more fashion writers who inspire me, this month I came across the British journal of fashion criticism called Address, edited by Johannes Reponen and Grace Eagle. In an interview in 2013, Reponen described how the magazine would “discuss and analyse fashion as part of our everyday experience… [and it is] much more interested in the clothes we wear rather than some extravagant creation you see on the catwalks that nobody’s ever going to wear.” Their second issue looked at ‘care’, ‘shoes’ and ‘voice’ through the lens of fashion, however, as this was published in 2013, it looks as if the website has now replaced the printed issue. Pretty comprehensive, online Address includes opinion pieces, analyses, reviews and definitions. This may be the beginning of a McDowell moment!
Who is your favourite fashion writer? Who do you read and why?
(Top image taken by the author, date unknown)