If the idea of staring into the abyss of your closet doesn’t evoke a profound emotional response, perhaps that’s because it’s too daunting. Take out just one item—a vintage band tee, a special-occasion dress, or even a pair of everyday shoes—and prepare to look at it in a new light with a little help from Netflix’s new documentary series Worn Stories.
Based on the book of the same name by Emily Spivack, an artist, writer, editor, and curator, Worn Stories asks several people—only a few of which will be recognizable to the fashion set—to share the stories behind their favorite piece of clothing. The premise is simple, right? But over the course of eight episodes, I experienced a wide range of emotions. Yes, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry—honestly, you’ll probably cry more than once—and you’ll certainly conclude the series with a newfound sense of curiosity about not only other people’s fashion choices but also your own wardrobe.
With so many great real-life characters to choose from, it’s difficult to narrow down a favorite interview or even episode. But I found the worn stories that stuck with me most were those I least expected: Rudy, who purchases his first new shirt after 41 years in prison; Spirit, a nonbinary teenager preparing for their B’nai Mitzvah; Diane and Paul, a nudist couple; and Shoham, whose pursuit of a misplaced Rachel Comey coat reminds us that it’s the journey, not the destination.
Produced by Jenji Kohan of Weeds and Orange Is the New Black fame, Worn Stories offers her signature glimpse behind the curtain, finding beauty in the stories of people often overlooked by society. Broken into several distinct themes, each episode is loosely connected by threads—or occasionally, treads—thereby affirming the role fashion plays in how we express ourselves, experience the world, and harness our own main-character energy in moments big and small.
Below, we caught up with Spivack to talk about the latest interpretation of her Worn Stories project, including her favorite interviews as well as what the future holds for fashion lovers in the post-pandemic era.