Avery Trufelman on the ‘Articles of Interest’ podcast

“My parents used to be radio producers. They stopped when they had me, but they always talked fondly about it. So my dream was also to be a radio producer. Then podcasts came my way. Back then, we’re talking about 2013, were podcasts still pretty underground; 99% invisible also at the beginning. Roman Mars made the program alone in his garage. I was a fan and heard he was looking for an intern, so signed up. I ended up working there for years and my ‘radio dream’ came true.”

How did you come up with the idea to create your own fashion podcast?

99% invisible is about design and architecture, but fashion is also such a big part of our home-made world. We have much more control over our clothes than the buildings we live in. I pitched a fashion spin-off to Roman, he immediately thought it was a great idea. I wanted to discuss things that everyone knows, like pockets and jeans, but also punk. The sections are independent, but intervene – like a daisy chain. All topics originate from conversations with friends. Each episode starts with someone talking about their own experiences, like Joe in the first episode. He is a small man who is forced to shop in the children’s department. That’s how we got into talking about children’s clothes. Why is it always so brightly colored and with crazy lyrics?”

Each episode deals with a deeper socio-cultural topic. Was that your intention before you started?

“Bee 99% invisible it’s also about the meaning behind objects. That’s the beauty of making a radio show or podcast about visual culture: you can’t show the ‘thing’ yourself. So you have to analyze the thought behind it. I had already practiced that way of working before Articles of interest. Discussing fashion thus becomes like understanding architecture. Buildings are actually about the inhabitants, psychology and a community. I now apply this research method to clothing. But I never imagined that a study of the Hawaiian shirt would actually be about colonialism.

When you listen to your podcast, you see everything so clearly. How do you cast something you actually want to feel into sound?

“Funny of you to say that. I recently approached a curator because I wanted to see a fashion collection and she said she could show pictures. But no, that’s not possible. I need to be able to feel the clothes before I can convey it to the listeners. Like in the jeans episode when I saw the oldest jeans in the world. When I describe the ingrained patterns, you see them in front of you. I also want to reach people who are not professionals. For them, the world of fashion can be scary, think of models on the catwalk. It is precisely by eliminating those images and discussing only fashion that we can talk about the idea behind clothes.”

When I listen to the episode about jeans, which is actually about sustainability, you almost seem like a fashion activist. Do you feel that way too?

“Our society devalues ​​clothes. People see clothes as disposable items. It is almost a spiritual problem. I am now reading a book by a monk from Nepal. Buddhist philosophy sees attachment as the root of all suffering. You can also associate yourself with fashion, with the idea of ​​who you are with a certain outfit. Now that clothes are so cheap, we can change who we are every day. We always buy something new and renew ourselves all the time. I like to think about it – and hope others do too. Clothing also has value in itself. The substance and the manufacturing process. An item like this has a story, you can’t just throw it away. I don’t call myself an activist, but it’s a kind of “crusade”: to make people aware of the value of clothes.”

Several episodes are about fashion and gender. Like the one about pockets and the lack of them in women’s clothing. It’s basically about the idea that if you don’t have pockets, you can’t carry the right “tool” with you to function. Do you feel that a lot has changed in fashion, gender and liberation in recent years?

“I especially think the way we talk about fashion has changed. We appreciate the importance of clothes more. If we’re talking specifically about pockets, when Queen Elizabeth died, I saw a photo of her with her hands in her pockets. Then I thought: ‘yes, a dress with pockets’! We love them. At the same time, our conversation about gender is so advanced, but we still have a men’s and women’s department to shop in.”

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