What is Back Row?

Back Row publishes fashion and culture commentary and reporting that you won’t find anywhere else.

I began my journalism career at New York magazine more than 15 years ago, and have seen the media industry change drastically in that time. I started Back Row as an experiment to see what would happen if a fashion publication had the freedom to write just for readers — not readers and Google, not readers and advertisers, but just readers, full stop. Fashion journalism, particularly in corporate media entities, can be greatly influenced by outside pressures — from brands that advertise, from celebrities who appear on covers, from tech giants like Facebook and Google that control the click economy online. Back Row’s signature outsider perspective is the result of being free from those outside pressures.

I am the New York Times bestselling author of two books: ANNA: The Biography and Tales From the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry. My writing regularly includes insights drawn from extensive reporting for ANNA: The Biography, for which I interviewed more than 250 people, including some of fashion’s biggest names, like Tom Ford, Grace Coddington, André Leon Talley, and many more. Back Row’s stories have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications.

Paid subscribers can expect two posts by me each week, including commentary, Q&As, reported features, humor pieces, and more. Paid subscribers will also enjoy complete access to the entire Back Row archive and access to commenting. Free subscribers will receive occasional free posts.

Why Should You Pay to Read Back Row?

Since internet media began, content has been devalued. This is painfully apparent in many fashion websites monetized by advertising. These publications have to reach such large audiences to compete with social platforms and Google that they resort to clickbait to drive up numbers. You know those headlines that tease half of a celebrity headshot and ask you to click to see her entire haircut? This is what the media industry has evolved to do to survive in the 2020s. Fortunately, Substack has enabled writers like me to offer a sorely needed alternative.

By being monetized entirely by readers, Back Row doesn’t have to run clickbait, and can focus entirely on delivering high-quality, entertaining stories to your inbox. Paid membership begins at $50 a year or $5 a month (the amount you might spend on one coffee drink in a city). The funds not only compensate me for the time it takes to write this newsletter, they also will enable me to grow and expand the scope and ambition of this publication.

I hope you will join me in the effort to reinvent fashion and culture media for the modern era.

Thank you so much for your support. I can’t wait to see what we do with this community, as one of the first fully reader-supported fashion and culture outlets.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for more fashion and culture coverage.

Subscribe to Back Row

The fashion and culture newsletter that publishes what legacy media can't.


Fashion journalist. Front row topics, back row perspective.