Audio podcasts have progressed way beyond their early reputation as DIY offshoots of talk radio. Like with any creative media format, podcast makers are revolutionizing the industry and reaching more diverse audiences through specialized topics now more than ever before. According to Allure, 2020 was a boon for beauty and fashion podcasts in particular with over 4000 new shows entering the market. The medium has become more communal and interactive across online networks — especially now that it’s easier to connect with our favorite hosts through social media. There’s also been a more recent influx of video podcasting, which has only strengthened the bond between the podcasters and listeners.
I enjoy podcasts for offering a centralized arena to learn about specific interests (no matter how niche or mainstream they might be). I also appreciate the expansion in storytelling methods: whereas some shows follow an of-the-moment social commentary model, others are serialized and focus on a central theme each season. I came of age listening to All Songs Considered (NPR’s music equivalent to their news show All Things Considered) and it inspired so much of my personal music discovery. As of late, my podcast listening sessions most frequently orbit between fashion, beauty, and music content. Here, I offer 3 shows from each category to get you started.
The Cutting Room Floor
Dubbed by its host as “fashion’s only fashion show,” The Cutting Room Floor is a fascinating and honest exploration of the industry from designer Recho Omondi, one of the field’s most exciting voices. In this episode, Omondi chats with former Wall Street Journal columnist Teri Agins about her seminal text The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever and the industry’s presumed heyday.
off the rack
This is a bi-weekly podcast by Brainwash Media where hosts Akua Kwakwa and Ayanna McNeil compare notes on relevant fashion news and research important aspects of the industry as they intersect with business, art, and culture. A recent episode grapples with some of the pitfalls of American magazine covers in comparison to their counterparts abroad.
In Vogue: The 1990s
Presented 30 years later, In Vogue is a limited-run podcast that details various aspects of iconic 1990s fashion — from the supermodels to the stylists to the fashion shows everyone had to attend and still revere to this day. Hosted by Hamish Bowles, the international editor-at-large at American Vogue, the insightful show is full of historic gems — including this analysis on how some of our favorite models rose to prominence.
Brooke Devard Ozaydinli, a product marketing manager at Instagram and all-around beauty aficionado, holds earnest conversations with various women across the beauty and entertainment industries on her podcast Naked Beauty. I gained a lot of knowledge during this episode with skincare expert Dr. Barbara Strum on the in-and-outs of her top-selling cosmetics, as well as tips for navigating hyperpigmentation on darker skin.
Science of Beauty
This show from Allure is a sage offering during a time where many are experimenting with skincare at home. Bringing scientific knowledge to our intuitive self-care, the hosts (editor-in-chief Michelle Lee and executive beauty director Jenny Bailly) were recently joined by dermatologist Marie Jhin for an episode that traces the origins of a multi-step beauty routine to the cosmetics brand Clinique and the traditions of Korean skincare. Jhin also provides practical tips on skincare layering and application.
Beauty Fix with Naomi Shimada
On her occasional BBC Radio podcast, model and author Naomi Shimada uses her platform as a champion of inclusivity to further explore the intersections of beauty and society. In a new episode, she chats with activist and model Ebonee Davis on the politics of natural hair and rebelling against Eurocentric standards in the modeling industry. The overall premise of Beauty Fix emphasizes that “beauty is anything but fixed.”
On Song Exploder, host Hrishikesh Hirway meets with artists to unpack the elements of their hit songs from inspiration to the final product. Founded in 2014, this podcast has since blossomed into a TV series on Netflix and boasts over 150 episodes in its original audio format. This episode with Texas psych rock trio Khruangbin is a substantial commentary on their hit single “So We Won’t Forget” and the process of remembering and archiving special moments in one’s life. It’s so beautiful to hear a song taken apart and learn about a musician’s production process, so that you can experience the music differently once it’s played in entirety.
KEXP – Song of the Day
If you want new tunes to listen to, this is a great place to start. For years, the DJs at Seattle-based radio station KEXP have been sharing a daily track from independent and emerging artists in podcast format. No matter where you access this show, it’s highly recommended to just start with the most recent song and let the diverse curation play until your heart’s content. Here’s the playlist version as it’s built throughout 2021.
Object of Sound
One of my favorite recent discoveries, this episode of Object of Sound features another treasured podcast host, Jenna Wortham of Still Processing, as a guest. Host and poet Hanif Abdurraqib chats with Wortham and her co-author Kimberly Drew (Black Futures, 2020), as well as musician Sudan Archives, for a thoughtful discussion on Afrofuturism and its prevalence in Black fashion and music.