Why does fashion matter? It’s a question you ask yourself a lot when you’re running a fashion site, putting hours (and days and years) into stories about shirts and shoes and lipstick. If you don’t believe fashion matters, you can’t do the job. But if you believe it matters too much, you can’t do the job either, because you can’t be afraid to ask real questions. Questions like: People love this stuff. I love this stuff. Why?
So for our relaunch cover story, we went back to the beginning, asking 36 of our favorite stylish people to tell us about the moment they first fell in love with fashion. Joe Zee described sneaking into Marc Jacobs’s seminal 1992 grunge show for Perry Ellis and the thrill of being just a kid watching cultural history get made. Drew Barrymore talked about being a literal kid, four years old, hanging out in movie dressing rooms and listening to the actresses share their beauty secrets.
Two Racked staffers discovered the power of style as punk teens making their own clothing. Iris Apfel’s gateway drug was jewelry; Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca’s gateway drug was Soul Train. For Aidy Bryant of Saturday Night Live it was Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and for Leandra Medine it was witnessing—and being terrified by—the full-on, bright-lights glamour of a Dior show in Paris.
What all of these answers had in common: They each contained an answer to a bigger question. By telling us how they realized fashion mattered to them, our contributors told us why fashion matters at all. It’s a cultural connector, a mode of self-expression, a secret language. And it’s a lot more than that, too.
Because fashion contains multitudes, this is a multimedia feature. There are longreads, short quotes, two-person chats, videos, and even a cartoon. To cherry-pick what you look at first, navigate through the table of contents at left. If you’d rather be surprised, scroll through each page one by one. Either way, we’d love it if you shared your own stories on Twitter and Facebook.
—Izzy Grinspan, Racked Executive Editor