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What’s in My Buds? With Avery Trufelman of ‘99% Invisible’ and ‘Articles of Interest’

Avery Trufelman is a curious and creative storyteller, a longtime producer of 99% Invisible [99PI], and the host of 99PI’s new special series Articles of Interest, six thought-provoking episodes looking into what we wear and why. Avery did a fascinating deep dive into the stories and nuances of clothing and fashion. So naturally, we wanted to share more about Avery: details on the series, what she listens to, and how she views her own personal sense of style.

What’s your go-to podcast and why?

The podcasts that make me squeal when I see them in my feed are Imaginary Advice, Ear Hustle, Reply All, the Paris Review Podcast, and Still Processing.

If you’re not listening to a podcast, what do you like to listen to?

Usually, Kate Bush.

What inspired you to create Articles of Interest in the first place?

Well, the origin actually started a long time ago. In 2007, I went to a traveling exhibit about the life and work of Vivienne Westwood. I had always enjoyed clothes and thrift shopping, but it was that show that opened my eyes to how important clothing actually is. The fact that someone designed punk style completely blew my mind, and then punk went on to mean so much to so many people. For the final episode of this series, I was lucky to speak to the curator of that exhibit, and it really felt like coming full circle.

‘99% Invisible’ is a show about “the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” How does this theme relate to fashion?

I have this line in the opening of this series, “fashion is just another word for the constant inevitable shifts in popular taste.” A lot of things have fashion, beyond clothes. And this is certainly also true of architecture and design. Clothing is just another way we’re watching fashions and tastes cycle through culture. They tell us quite a lot about ourselves and our moment in time, just as much as any other cultural artifact.

How did you choose what types of clothing to feature?

Oh god, I’ve been thinking about all of these for so long, and they all come from so many different places. But each one started by talking with people about what they’re wearing, and asking about their style choices. That’s why I wanted to start each episode with a conversation with a friend, to give a hint at where these explorations began.

How would you describe your personal clothing style?

Well, let me tell you, it’s really suffered since I moved to California! When I lived in New York, I wore skirts and dresses almost exclusively. Now that I get around by bike, I’m in grease-stained pants most of the time. But I like to try to have fun with it. I’ve been trying to make myself wear earrings every day because that’s a good, easy way to add a little glamour.

My style now is kind of like… professional-looking, nice clothes that I bought at a thrift store and then got stains all over.

Who or what inspires your style?

I’m really a fate shopper. I like to get what I find in thrift stores or clothing swaps, or when I stumble across things from small manufacturers or local stores. It’s just too easy to order whatever you want from the internet! I relish the challenge of real-life shopping, and searching within the parameters of what’s in your orbit. I think it makes me more of a creature of my environment.

What’s your favorite episode from the series?

The last one! Punk! It’s the one I’ve been thinking about for 11 years. I feel like I’m finally getting it out of my system.

Punk styling for Articles of Interest

What do you think makes a good piece of sound?

For this series I did a LOT of traveling. It was really important for me to meet people face-to-face, touch a lot of fabric, and see the context around garments, their makers, and their histories. The sounds that come from that out-of-studio experience are my favorite. The tape is messy and imperfect — but that’s what I love about it.

Editor’s note: The ‘Pockets’ episode features out-of-studio audio from unique spots like a police supply store and a museum storage area.

You can hear Articles of Interest by subscribing to 99% Invisible on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic or wherever you listen.

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