Fashion podcasts have gained popularity over the last few years with podcast consumption doubling during the pandemic, according to Spotify. Many of these have been launched by brands hoping to connect with their customers and media outlets looking for another avenue to engage their audience. In a small corner, however, are Black podcasters reviewing fashion history, interviewing designers, and speaking with other major or under-the-radar creative professionals in the industry.
These podcasters are important not only because they help bring a unique lens to fashion, as in the case of Black fashion history, but also due to their independence, which provides the freedom to dive into stories and topics that podcasts owned by larger companies may not be able to do.
Ahead, designer Recho Omondi, Vogue market editor Naomi Elizée, and The Folklore’s Amira Rasool share with NYLON what inspired them to go into podcasting, how they run their podcasts, and what to expect in future seasons to come.
Recho Omondi, The Cutting Room Floor
In fashion, the cutting room is where decisions, such as cut-pattern and fabric selection, are made and it is seen as the backbone of garment manufacturing. So when designer Recho Omondi launched her podcast in 2018 and named it The Cutting Room Floor, one should naturally expect a deep dive and behind-the-scenes look into every facet of the fashion industry. This is exactly what Omondi delivers: She asks her guests questions with gusto and curiosity, so listeners are given full transparency and also a whole hell of a lot to learn.
Being one of the earlier independent fashion podcasts run by a Black woman has cost Omondi little but rather afforded her the opportunity to peek under the hood of a lot of businesses and quiz professionals, such as Lana Johnson of Orseund Iris, senior creative director at Nike Ibrahem Hasan, and legendary journalist Teri Agins, who covered fashion at The Wall Street Journal for 20 years.
How has being a designer influenced the conversations in your podcast and vice versa?
I’m able to ask questions through the lens of a designer versus a traditional journalist, I think. I started this podcast because many people don’t understand the fashion industry and even when they do, it’s limited to just one aspect.
You’ve interviewed many of the industry’s “big names” already. Who else is on your wish list?
There are still so many people left I'd love to interview! Katie Grand, James Jebbia, and Marc Jacobs, to name a few.
Amira Rasool, Our Folklore
Our Folklore’s podcast is about storytelling, which is an ode to founder and CEO Amira Rasool's journalism background. The brand of a similar name (The Folklore) is primarily an e-commerce platform and branched out with a podcast in March 2020. Our Folklore centers fashion voices from and within Africa, as it was important for Rasool to highlight the brands carried by her online store.
“I feel like independent podcasts are important, in light of all podcasts managed by bigger brands, because we don’t answer to anyone,” says Rasool. “I ask my own questions, I’m able to be as honest and transparent as possible. We’re not putting in random ads for random companies to pay the bills, so because we’re not running it as a business we’re able to really get more into the nitty-gritty.”
How has it been running a fashion business while running the podcast?
Juggling the two is definitely difficult but we have our amazing digital producer Raven XX, who has really held it down. We do two seasons so we give ourselves a break — 10 episodes at the beginning of the spring/summer season and then 10 episodes at the beginning of the fall/winter season. Having that break in between is definitely great.
What are you looking forward to for next season?
For our third season, which launches in September, we are going to be looking at places that we haven’t been able to get a lot of guests from previously, so places like South America because we have a designer there now, and being able to look more to Europe, too, and talk to more people from the diaspora there. Even people who are in the diaspora in Australia. And people who are chefs and in food.
There’s a number of creative people in mediums that I feel like we haven't tapped yet and I’m looking forward to having those conversations and being able to continue to tell those stories, and getting questions from the audience ahead of time so that I can make sure we’re giving them what they want from each particular guest.
Naomi Elizée, So... What Do You Do Again?
From Vanity Fair to Vogue, market editor Naomi Elizée has gotten a chance to explore the industry better than most and she shares this knowledge on her podcast So... What Do You Do Again? “I know how daunting it can be to try to make your way through the fashion industry so I created this podcast to be a resource for anyone looking to break into it,” she tells NYLON. “I want them to learn from me and my guests’ mistakes. It’s the conversations I have with friends at dinner, just now there’s a mic involved.”
On SWDYDA, Elizée asks friends and colleagues, like stylist Mecca James-Williams, model Precious Lee, and T.A. boutique owner Telsha Anderson, everything about navigating their careers in the fashion industry. Although the podcast is currently on a hiatus, Elizée is getting ready to relaunch the podcast this summer with a revamp: a new logo, a better social media presence, and even more amazing guests.
How has it been managing a full-time job in fashion and the podcast?
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult! I’m still learning to find a balance but it has been incredibly fulfilling to have created something of my own.
What has been one of your fondest memories of hosting the podcast so far?
My first in-person recording event with Sade Mims of Edas. That was such a special moment. To see so many people come out for our event and to listen to our conversation really solidified that the podcast has a purpose and has had an impact on multiple people’s lives. I wish I could relive that moment. I’m so incredibly thankful for my listeners and supporters.