While fashion is often regarded as a solely visual medium, writers, researchers and journalists have long been using the power of words to communicate pertinent messages about the industry. Take iconic fashion editor Andre Leon Talley’s memoir, for example. The late Vogue editor-at-large may have created many an arresting image during his tenures at top fashion magazines around the world, but it was in his best-selling autobiography, The Chiffon Trenches, that Talley truly painted a stirring portrait of his journey as a Black, queer creative.
To be a critical consumer of fashion means to look beyond its glossy veneer and take interest in the issues in and around the field—from diversity and representation to sustainable production. There is no better way to explore the deeper layers of the industry than to add the right books to your reading list. For historical perspective, look to Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser, an intensively-researched deep dive into the roots of how we dress.
If its cultural knowledge that you are looking to accrue, we recommend Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by Hafsa Lodi, a thought-provoking look at the intersection between two seemingly polarised concepts, and The New Black Vanguard by Antwaun Sargent, who memorialises the most notable Black voices in contemporary fashion. For a lighter read on your next plane ride, consider Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen, a fast-paced fashion thriller, or the whimsical and inspiring What Artists Wear by acclaimed fashion critic Charlie Porter.
If you are curious about the enigmatic world of fashion or simply looking for some sartorial inspiration, there is no shortage of quality reads to pick from. Here, we round up some of the best titles to keep on your top shelf this year.
1 / 8
The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion by Antwaun Sargent
A critical look at how Black voices like Tyler Mitchell and Campbell Addy have reshaped the visual vocabulary of fashion.
2 / 8
Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser
An encyclopaedic journey through the captivating origin stories of clothing and how it has shaped the ways in which we dress.
3 / 8
What Artists Wear by Charlie Porter
Fashion critic and art curator Charlie Porter guides us through the most iconic of artist’s uniforms—from items donned by Andy Warhol to Yayoi Kusama.
4 / 8
Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen
In this feminist thriller, one knock-off luxury bag is all it takes for the straightlaced Ava Wong to descend into the thrilling world of fashion and crime.
5 / 8
Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by Hafsa Lodi
This investigative read traces the relationship between modesty and fashion, endeavouring to find where the two eventually meet.
6 / 8
The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by André Leon Talley
Through his visionary lens, the late style icon recounts the high-octane ups and downs of a life spent in and around fashion.
7 / 8
Peter Lindbergh. On Fashion Photography by Peter Lindbergh
The legendary photographer’s most striking work—in part previously unpublished—now compiled into one shiny tome.
8 / 8
Louis Vuitton Trophy Trunks by Olivier Margot
Delve into the maison’s integral role in the crowning of sporting legends across history, depicted in an artful coffee-table book.
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