Books

Merch watch: are you consuming culture as a performative act?



The Gentlewoman x Arket tee

Rachel Cusk and Zadie Smith have become, in effect, literary brands — once their names are removed from the context of a book’s cover and placed on a hat or a tote bag.” Terry Nguyen, New York Times.

The merch machine refuses to die. In fact, I would argue it’s only just getting started. The New York Times recently published this article on literary merch, explaining the relatively new popularity of #litcore caps (and totes and tees) that show allegiance to revered writers while telegraphing the wearer’s (perceived) intellectual superiority. The Guardian calls this “consuming culture as a performative act”, while comedian Dan Rosen simply calls it “liberal cringe” (ouch #guilty).

It’s also rampant in media, with mainstream and niche publications going all out on taste signallers. (more…)



Return of the Soho fashion bookshops



Idea Books London

Interesting to see Soho (London) getting its retail groove back.

I noticed it in the summer with Machine A mark II, Marc Jacobs’ Heaven and Aries (so trendy, I was too intimidated to go inside). Now the niche fashion booksellers are coming back.

Idea Books just announced it’s opening its Wardour Street space to the public. Previously ‘by appointment’ only, it’s expanding to take up a much larger chunk of the building, which is located in the epicentre of Soho. And Isabella Burley’s Climax Books has just opened in Wardour Mews (Thursday-Saturday). Dealing in collectible vintage books and avant-garde erotica respectively, they’re bringing bookish fashionistas back to the beating heart of the city.

In the days when Central Saint Martins was located in Charing Cross Road, all the fashion students would flock to Borders for their expensive style zines (often consumed FOC with a two-hour coffee in Starbs upstairs). (more…)



Trend report: what to wear for AW23



Johnny Dufort for T Magazine

AW23 is emphatically female-focussed, kicking off with supermodel mania – that Vogue cover, the Apple series and a Linda Evangelista book – and continuing with a slew of women-championing exhibitions. We’ve also got the big Phoebe Philo reveal to come, as well as a focus on revivalist classic fashion (aka gentlewoman style). For this you can easily shop your closet, or consider buying pre-loved – the quality may be better and so may the price. “The connection between instability in the economy and consumers’ desire for classic, quality pieces that retain value is certainly at play, as is the cultural zeitgeist,” Kelly McSweeney, senior merchandising manager at The RealReal, told WWD. (more…)



Au revoir Jane, the ultimate garconne



Jane Birkin - the ultimate garconne

Celebrities dying is nothing new, but word of Jane Birkin’s passing feels personal. Not because she was an icon or a diva but because she wasn’t.

Despite her obvious physical beauty and talent she always came across to me as down to earth and real. I remember ‘meeting’ her with That’s Not My Age at a Miller Harris event (Lyn Harris had created a bespoke fragrance for her and they had remained friends). Well, Alyson actually spoke to her while I hovered awkwardly. (more…)