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Photo: Emmy Park
Photo: Emmy Park

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This Year’s Very Best Racked Longform

Year-end lists are hard to make. Years are long and, if you're lucky, there will be too much good stuff you want to include. I'm lucky! In 2015, the first full year of Racked features' existence, we published so many pieces I am very proud of. Picking my favorites was pretty impossible. I settled on 12.

There are many writers and even more stories that don't get their due in this list, but these are the longform features that had the greatest impact and reach and certainly deserve a read. If you're a completionist, you can see every single Racked feature here. If you want a greatest hits version in no particular order (by me, Racked features editor), keep on scrolling.


Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Photo: Cary Norton

This Is a Story About Loss by Stephie Grob Plante

The headline says it all: this is a story about loss, of things and of people. Alabama's Unclaimed Baggage Center acts as the backdrop for Stephie's massive, moving meditation on grief and God. (You should also read Stephie on the world's preeminent toddler style blogger and a secretive Christian clothing chain.)


Photo: Chavie Lieber

The Great Weed Rebrand by Chavie Lieber

As Racked's features reporter, Chavie could fill a list of her own (Gwyneth! Marc! Jessica!), but her magnum opus, at least for 2015, is this piece on Colorado's cannabis lifestyle industry. It starts with stoned yoga and somehow gets even better from there.


Photo: Amanda Lopez

Playing Snooki by Mary H.K. Choi

Snooki was one of the first to ride the wave of reality TV celebrity, but what happens now? She attempts to conquer the fashion world, of course. In this funny and honest profile, Mary is very fair to a person people are never particularly kind to.


Photo: Helen Rosner

Everything Is for Sale by Helen Rosner

This may be the only story about microeconomics that will make you weep. We sent Helen on a 700-mile road trip along the country's longest yard sale and what she came back with is an astonishing piece about, among many other things, the value of our stuff.


Illustration: Jordan Kay

Infiltrating Makeup Alley by Claire Carusillo

Makeup Alley is a message board that predates pretty much every other existing online community, having been founded all the way back in 1999. It's populated almost entirely by women, all hardcore beauty obsessives. This delightful read involves lipstick, far-flung friendships, and trolls, some of whom Claire fell victim to.


Photo: Brian Guido

American Apparel's Worker Revolt by Erika Adams

The downward spiral of American Apparel has been well-documented, but there is so much more bubbling just beneath the surface. Erika met with protesters outside the company's Los Angeles headquarters to investigate what exactly is going on with the workers' unionization efforts — and how Dov Charney figures in.


Photo: Emmy Park

The Fast, Furry Rise of the Instagram-Famous Pet by Kyle Chayka

Kyle went deep on the internet's most viral animals. Meet the dogs (and cats, and even hedgehogs) and owners (slash managers) who help each other play the fame game to absurd, and often adorable, effect.


Photo: Justin Chesney

All Dolled Up by Julia Rubin

I feel weird putting one of my own stories on here, but this feature on American Girl got a big response. It's clear that people care a lot about a company that cares a lot about 9-year-old girls. Another girl-centric story that got plenty of play, and happens to be on the other end of our coverage spectrum, is this piece on Suicide Girls.


Photo: Brian Guido

If You Give a Hunk a Cookie by Meredith Haggerty

Crosby Tailor is an impossibly handsome man who makes impossibly healthy cookies. (But really, impossibly healthy: these are cookie are made of fat.) Besides being a so-called ketogenic cookie guru, he's also a model, health coach, and social media star. He took Meredith to a cryotherapy center. This is peak 2015.


Photo: Dustin Chambers

The Big, Weird Business of Prom by Lauren Sherman

At Atlanta's World of Prom trade show, Lauren saw more bedazzled dresses than you can imagine and met the people who make a living selling them. On a related note, another Lauren hit from this year is her revealing feature on the rebirth of David's Bridal.


Photo: Will Vragovic

HSN and the Power of the TV Shopper by Tiffany Yannetta

Some of the most brilliant companies are the ones we don't necessarily think too much about. HSN is one of those companies, and Tiffany went down to St. Petersburg, Florida to find out its secrets to success. Among those secrets: targeting a demo the rest of the retail industry ignores — middle-aged women.


Photo illustration: Nike/Brittany Holloway-Brown

Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible? by Rose Eveleth

The patriarchy! Kidding, kind of. Bouncing breasts are only just now getting the scientific attention they deserve, and Rose looked into why that is. The researchers at the forefront are, obviously, some badass women, but the issue is more complex than you might think.


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