What to buy for the fashion – focused reader in your life

What to buy for the fashion – focused reader in your life, is a work that revolves around the collection and re-arrangement of paratexts in fashion magazines.
Our first association with fashion is often clothes and shopping, perhaps fashion photography and after that maybe fashion magazines and their dazzling imagery. It is uncommon to think of text when thinking of fashion.
In fashion media text is mainly recognized as a tool for journalists to write reviews for shows, fashion week reports and do interviews. However, when looking at a fashion magazine, there is a large sum of textual content that consists of captions, titles, editorial introductions and other paratexts. Although omnipresent, these texts are often not attentively read. Although the reader might only superficially scan through them, these are the texts that produce value and meaning; they assign ephemeral properties to a garment, such as cool, dreamy, masculine, amazing or new, even though the garment in itself doesn’t inhabit these values. Besides producing value and meaning, these texts, the word choice, references and storytelling present us with prevailing cultural, social and economic norms and values.

By taking the paratexts from twelve magazines (one per month over the course of a year) and categorizing them according to recurring themes and words, the underlying stories and discourse surfaces, turning casual browsing through a magazine into an act of critical reading.

What to buy for the fashion – focused reader in your life was on show at Hordaland Kunstsenter in 2020.
In collaboration with Zuzana Kostelanská and Anouk Beckers.


The book What to buy for the fashion – focused reader in your life p.33 is a transcription and categorisation of the paratexts from one renowned fashion magazine per month, spanning the course of a full year.
Get the book here

By Femke de Vries
With: Ashley Martiniello, Chet Bugter and Chinouk Filique de Miranda
Design: Zuzana Kostelanská
Copies: 75
Printing: Kaboem
Published in 2020, reprinted in 2021