Très Click: Best of 2012 Edition

Haley Wornette picks a few of her favorite fashion articles from the past year

My job title is publisher, but sometimes I feel like it should be changed to lobbyist. I am really a lobbyist for the “fashion is important” agenda. The “fashion is feminist” agenda. I am staunchly pro-clothes.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m some sort of feminist hero because I believe that clothes deserve the same sort of recognition we give to other forms of creative expression—please, put your crown away, I could never take something so bejeweled—but I will share with you that I feel very, very strongly that fashion and clothing deserve way more respect in the general culture. I can talk about it for hours. Believe me, I do talk about it for hours.

Luckily for me, 2012 had some of the very best fashion writing I’ve ever seen. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite pieces by some of the most intelligent fashion writers working today, people who share my conviction and lobbying tendencies.

Maybe a better term for my unofficial position would be fashion evangelist. Even with all the flaws, fashion and clothing are things that I believe in—I have faith that they matter. They matter in the ways we know (as ways to cover our bodies) and they matter in some pretty shitty ways (excess consumption, materialism, and greed) and then they matter in some really important ways (as evidence of our beliefs, our values, our choices, sartorial or otherwise). Here are just a few of my favorite articles from people who share my holy love of fashion. PREACH.

New York Fashion Week by the Numbers: More Models Of Color Are Working
by Jenna Sauers

In the fashion industry, I think hard data is especially important. It’s the best way to really, honestly see where the trends are—and the best way to identify where the problems are. It’s hard to deny that a designer has a problem with diversity when a chart exists that details exactly how white a runway show was.

Jenna has been tracking diversity on the runway since the Fall-Winter 2008 New York Fashion Week season, and the results are showing signs of improvement:

“This season proved to be the most racially diverse that we have ever counted. For the second time ever (and the second season in a row), white models actually comprised just less than 80% of the total model pool. Contrast that with the 87% of all runway spots that were give to white models in Fall-Winter 2008, when we began keeping track of models and race at NYFW.”

That said, this data can only accomplish so much. As Jenna pointed out in her 2010 roundup, “race is a social construct, not a fact,” and representations of beauty don’t fall into neat black or white categories.

The important thing is: “Fashion still has a long way to go before all forms of beauty are truly given equal consideration—but this season is another small step in the right direction.”

Passions Burn After Bangladesh Factory Fire
by Max Mosher

The tragedy in Bangladesh was much too familiar—as Max Wornette pointed out in his regular style column in the Toronto Standard, the devastating incident was reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. In 1911, the horror was enough to create a union that fought to protect workers’ rights and higher safety standards; will the same happen in Tazreen?

Your Brain on Fashion
by Minh-Ha T. Pham

Suzy Menkes told AnOTher Magazine that: “I think there’s too much mixing fashion and intellect. Fashion ultimately is designed to cover the human body, to give you joy, to make you feel better. I don’t think it has to have a great intellectual meaning… to intellectualize fashion too much, to me, is just going the wrong way.” I respectfully disagree, and so does Minh-Ha T. Pham.

Pham cues up her “usual spiel,” as she puts it, to explain how “anti-intellectual discourses about fashion are so often covers for sexist assumptions about the meaninglessness of all things feminine and/or related to femininity.” I want her to say this again, and again, and then I want to shout it from a rooftop. A perfect summation of why fashion—and more importantly, why clothing—matters.

What The Fuck Is Nail Art?
by Rachel Seville

It’s no secret that I love my nail art. And I’m hardly an early adapter—I came to the trend late, after years of never painting my nails. I wrote about why I love nail art here (and here!), but I also love to point people to Rachel Seville’s handy guide for people who just want to know what the fuck is nail art?

Why Everyone Suddenly Cares About Nail Art
by Hillary Reinsberg

On Buzzfeed Shift, Hillary Reinsberg wonders about the origins of nail art—the trend of outlandish designs and 3D bedazzled elements has been popular in black communities for quite awhile, but now that the trend has gone mainstream (and now that the Times is ON IT), that seems to be a key fact that’s missing from all the coverage. There’s also a class element involved here—nail polishes are easy ways to allow people who can’t afford a hula hoop bag to participate in a brand. Reinsberg speaks with editors from Allure, New York Magazine, and Robin Givhans to get an alternative perspective on the trendiest trend of 2012.

Who Needs Halloween? Girl, 8, dresses as historic figures all year
by Jennifer Carlile

Ugh, ugh, my ovaries: an eight-year-old girl in Nebraska wears a different historical costume every day of the school year, drawing inspiration from the book “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.”

Reddit Users Attempt To Shame Sikh Woman, Get Righteously Schooled
by Lindy West

There has been a LOT of talk about the evils of the Internet this year (and in readings unrelated to fashion, I would highly recommend Adrian Chen’s article on Violentacrez and Patrick McGuire’s ongoing series on what really happened to Amanda Todd), but I do believe the Internet is just an extension of the real world. Sometimes, the real world is so sad and mean and horrible you just want to shut it down forever, but sometimes, someone who was publicly shamed for her facial hair on Reddit writes an eloquent explanation for why she is not ashamed and why her faith is more important to her than conventional ideas of beauty, and the person who did the shaming listens and responds with a real heartfelt apology, and as Lindy West says, on those days, our hearts grow three sizes.

What’s So Bad About A Boy Who Wants To Wear A Dress?
by Ruth Padawar

Seriously, though: what IS so bad about a boy who wants to wear a dress? Ruth Padawar interviews several families with children who identify as gender-fluid or gender-variant and looks into the history of people who challenged traditional gender norms. Padawar writes:

“The parents of boys in that middle space argue that gender is a spectrum rather than two opposing categories, neither of which any real man or woman precisely fits…. It might make your world more tidy to have two neat and separate gender possibilities,” one North Carolina mother wrote last year on her blog, “but when you squish out the space between, you do not accurately represent lived reality. More than that, you’re trying to ‘squish out’ my kid.”’

Boy With Down Syndrome Becoming An Unlikely Ad Star
by Tim Nudd

Early in 2012, Ryan, a child model with Down Syndrome, was featured in catalogs by Target and Nordstrom, featured exactly where he should be: modeling clothes right beside his neurotypical peers. As the father of another child with Down syndrome and the author of the blog Noah’s Dad says: “This wasn’t a ‘Special Clothing For Special People’ catalog,” he writes. “There wasn’t a call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that ‘Target’s proud to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week’s ad!’…. In other words, they didn’t make a big deal out of it. I like that.” To read more on clothes, fashion, and Down Syndrome, read our interview with the owner of Downs’ Designs.

What Fashion’s “Ethnic” Prints Are Really Called
by Connie Wang

“Ethnic” and “tribal” prints are high up on the list of useless, nonsensical, and offensively bad, yet ubiquitous, fashion copy. Connie Wang of Refinery29 correctly points out that “Lumping all similar prints into one group or referring to them by a descriptor rather than their real names is just as silly as calling jeans “blue pants,” and helpfully provides a comprehensive vocabulary lesson so that we can all learn the difference between ikat and batik prints. Slate also detailed the history and the contemporary problems facing manufacturers today here.

Authenticity at Jane and Finch: African Dutch Wax Fabrics
by Adwoa Afful

On the Ethnic Aisle, Adwoa Afful explains how learning about Dutch Wax prints became part of learning about her family, herself as a Ghanian-Canadian, and how “Dutch wax prints have come to represent one way West Africans express themselves sartorially.”

Girl Talk
by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

One of my favorite blog discoveries of 2012 was The Beheld, a collection of thoughtful essays on beauty and all that it can mean. The articles are also cross-posted on The New Inquiry (another favourite). I loved and related to her honest admission in Girl Talk: sometimes, she feels awkward around women, and she uses compliments on their shoes or their hair or some element of their appearance as a way to fight that awkwardness. I know I definitely use this as a way to superficially connect with new friends, and I’ve been the recipient of it as well. I think Autumn is exactly right when she says that “something frivolous can come out of my mouth and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t make me seem frivolous. It simply lightens me, desirably so.”

Cindy Sherman’s Superstar Strategy
by Sarah Nicole Prickett

SNP writes about the retrospectives for Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim and Cindy Sherman at the Met: “And so Sherman has survived where Woodman did not: In assuming the whole lot of female and feminine (and sometimes masculine) identity, she’s given away precious little of herself. Her work is fashion. It is facade. It’s defence.” Every word of this article is perfect and beautiful: read it for yourself and see.

Is there an article about fashion from 2012 that you’d like to share? Tweet it at @wornjournal and use the #clothesmatter tag, or leave it in the comments.

Très Click: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Edition

What Haley Wornette has been reading on her travels


Before leaving for New York, I loaded up my iPhone and tote bag with some truly excellent articles, books, and zines. They really came in handy when I found myself lost on the G train, stuck in the back of a cab, or standing on a street corner trying to look busy when I was actually just way too early for a meeting. Here are a few of my favourite fashion-related reads; enjoy!

When We Were “Seventeen”: A History In 47 Covers
Jane Hu traces the history of Seventeen from the initial editor-in-chief, Helen Valentine, to its current, shall we say, flawed state. I was fascinated to discover that Seventeen began with such a noble goal—to talk with teenagers, not at them—and was inspired by Valentine’s original directive to readers: “Say you agree with SEVENTEEN or disagree violently, say we’re tops, say we’re terrible, say anything you please—but say it!”

Portrait of the Artist as a Postman
Kermit Oliver is the main character in this real life fashion fairy tale from Texas Monthly‘s October issue. “There once was a postman who designed scarves for Hermès,” Jason Sheeler begins, a seemingly simple premise to this article. Oliver sorts mail by night and paints impossibly beautiful Hermès scarves by day, but it’s not just the odd juxtaposition of his two careers that make this article so compelling. Sheeler tells us a story about art, race, class, family, and genius, and on the day that I read it, I became one of those people in New York who cry in public.

Original Plumbing
On Saturday, the Wornettes and I visited the New York Art Book Fair to see their legendary zine tent. We spent some time speaking with the people behind Original Plumbing, an amazing zine that describes itself as “the premier print magazine dedicated to the sexuality and culture of FTM trans.” I picked up the Fashion Issue for the WORN office and highly recommend it.

What have you been reading lately? Tell us in the comments!

5 Things to Read Instead of Paying Attention in Class

Alexander McQueen, fashion advice for kids, and 11 really weird beauty tips

Words for Kids who Love Fashion on Final Fashion
While much of this amazing advice is targeted at children, it’s never too late to take note. Danielle Meder offers atypical suggestions like ‘develop cultural literacy,’ when the most prevalent advice being given to kids who want to start a career in fashion is to start a blog.

How to Be Handsome: 11 Really Terrible 19th Century Beauty Tips
Prime yourself for history class with some of the head-scratchingly bizarre beauty routines of our ancestors. If you thought heated eyelash curlers were weird, you’ve only just hit the tip of the iceberg.

FATshion on XOJane.com
I am just finishing up my personal summer reading list with Two Whole Cakes by Lesley Kinzel, who also happens to write FATshion, the most on-point and hilarious fashion commentary to be found anywhere on the web.

Ryerson appoints first Designer-in Residence
Fashion and academia are relatively recent bedfellows, and Ryerson University in Toronto is blazing the trail by appointing the first ever Designer-in-Residence. What else could you expect from the only University in Canada that offers a Fashion Communications program?

The Nature of Alexander McQueen: the aesthetics of fashion design as a site of environmental change

If the title sounds really wordy and academic, that’s probably because it is. I wrote my undergraduate thesis last Spring about the significance of art to the environmental movement, and explored the significance of Alexander McQueen’s designs as examples of art. This link ties the two together into a smart and useful package: get your furrowed brow ready.

illustration // Andrea Manica

Très Click: Karl “Leather Daddy” Lagerfeld and Pussies Protesting Putin

Free Pussy Riot: The Only Band That Matters in 2012
If you haven’t heard of Pussy Riot yet, you need to take action now! Tobi Vail (yes, of Bikini Kill) had much to say about members of the anonymous collective (who were jailed for protesting the conservative Russian government) as well as their outfits: “Their uniform not only disguises their identities, it congeals their individuality into a unified set of symbols. Their neon balaclavas clash with the individual pieces of clothing worn by each girl, but also express a visual unity. Bright purple, pink, green, red, yellow and blue; one girl’s tights clash with her dress, but match another girl’s balaclava, which match a third girl’s tights, whose balaclava matches the first girl’s dress, and so on. The result is an image that is striking and memorable.”

Thinking Kink: The Politics of BDSM Fashion
Catherine Scott at Bitch Magazine recently wrote this short piece about the place of clothing in BDSM culture. These kinds of interesting discussions happen on fetish community discussion boards all the time, so seeing it moved into a venue like Bitch is exciting.

Tom of Sinland (NSFW)
While we’re on the topic of S&M, we must bring your attention to these totally ridiculous (and awesome) drawings by Bendix Bauer for Horst Magazine. Playing off the works of legendary gay illustrator Tom of Finland, Bauer replaces the beefcake hunks of yesterday, with the gay fashion icons of today.

SSION’s “Earthquake” Video
SSION is so FSHION. One can spend hours going through their video stream (I have). The best band, and the best dressed. Maybe I should be in the next SSION music video?

text by Jenna Danchuk
image by Denis Sinyakov/Reuters