Meet Avery Trufelman, the Fashion-Obsessed Host of The Cut’s New Podcast

by Freya Drohan

Award-winning podcaster Avery Trufelman has a new gig! The Daily talked to the audio star behind The Cut’s newly-minted podcast about bike shorts, her soft spot for Vivienne Westwood, and why New York City is far from over. 

What’s your elevator pitch for The Cut podcast?
I’ve always loved the way The Cut shines a light on the way we’re living now. I feel like their articles are always the first to highlight something that’s like, “Wait, I totally thought that was just me.” They’re not afraid to put their finger directly on the pulse, and their coverage is so, so varied—from fashion to culture to politics. I hope the podcast is a continuation of that! This is all just to say it’s going to be a total variety show.

What are your hopes for it?
Honestly, I really see this as an experiment; like an art practice. I’ve never worked at this speed before—I usually make audio documentaries that take many many months to complete, and so they’re never quite topical. Now that I’m going to be making a piece each week, there’s enough speed and agility (I hope!) to the fears and thoughts and hopes of life in 2020. It doesn’t need to be evergreen to me—these essays can live on as time capsules. I’m learning to be less afraid to be dated. In some ways I think being situated comfortably within one’s zeitgeist is the very root of style.

What first piqued your interest in fashion?
I’ve always loved dressing. I grew up visiting family in San Francisco, and I would always wander around the thrift stores on Haight Street. In middle school I would show up wearing psychedelic mini shifts or big prairie dresses or silver button up shirts from the ’70s. I would try to have a new outfit every single day and I would lay them out before I went to bed. It felt like a project. I was a pretty lonely kid, and I think fashion was a form of reclamation. Like, “Yeah I’m trying to look weird. This is a choice I am making.” So style became kind of a hobby/tool/coping mechanism for me. But I started to nerd out about fashion in a serious way when I was 16. That’s when, on one of my trips to San Francisco, I saw the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the deYoung Museum and it blew my mind. I had no idea that someone created punk. That this look which seemed so grassroots was carefully constructed with a lot of serious thought behind it. And that turned the lightbulb on for me, like, “Ohhh this is what fashion designers do.”

What does your current WFH wardrobe rotation look like?
I try to dress! Honestly, I just moved back to New York and I’m pretty jazzed on it, so I try to go to the park most nights and bike around. I’m definitely not being a homebody. But it’s funny, when I was living in Oakland, where I’ve been for the last seven years, I mostly spent my days biking around and drinking beer in the park, so I kind of lived in my bike shorts and ratty jeans, hauling around my massive backpack. I was really expecting a style transformation here. I imagined I would start wearing long jackets and dangly earrings and heels. But nope, quarantine is just a continuation of my Oakland bike life!

Do you feel like you work better if you’re wearing particular clothes/if you endeavored to get dressed up?
100% definitely. But it’s funny, now you can even play dress up a little more. I have this necklace I adore, but it kind of hurts my neck so I put it on for zoom calls and it makes me feel like I’ve got my magic meeting mind on.

Tell us about your previous podcast, Articles of Interest, which explored clothes, design, and fashion psychology.
It was a way to teach myself about fashion through the lens of various articles of clothing. I knew that I wanted to get to understanding Vivienne Westwood, the designer that first turned me on to fashion, but I also knew I needed to work up there incrementally. We started with the building blocks: the origins of the loom, then moved into different kinds of textiles, different histories… and then capped it off with punk and how punk style upset all of these conventions. I wasn’t planning to do a second season at all, but it seemed like it would be fun to continue that trajectory—like, now that we have established Vivienne Westwood and the world of designers and what they do, let’s delve into it more. So season two was all about desire and the larger luxury industry. I would say season one was about clothing and season two was about fashion, and both of these are meant to be primers. I wanted them to be gateways into thinking seriously about what we wear.

Fashion is usually such a visual medium. How have you sought to make audio a vehicle to effectively tell stories related to fashion?
Luckily I had a lot of practice! I had been working for [radio project] 99% Invisible for five years before I made Articles of Interest, and Roman Mars is the master at translating a visual and haptic medium (design!) into audio. So I learned from the best. And in a weird way, it’s easier to tell the story free from the visual. The listener doesn’t have to decide if they like the clothes or not, they can just listen to the story. With less judgment.

Can you recall your favorite audio project you’ve ever worked on?
Oh man. I made this episode of 99% Invisible forever ago. It’s called The Pool And The Stream and it’s nominally about why California swimming pools are shaped like kidney beans, but really it’s all about where ideas come from. I traveled all around the world chasing this story. It was an adventure and a half, and I fear I will never make anything better. I can’t even begin to describe how much it means to me.

You seem to be one busy podcaster! Are there certain things/rituals you swear by to keep your voice in tip top shape?
Oh lol… I don’t take care of my voice at all. I mean, I don’t smoke. But I don’t have any tips or tricks! And I lose my voice all the time. But quarantine is helping—I can’t go out to bars and yell.

Lastly! We’re getting sick of all these “NYC is over” personal essays. As a native, can you describe your perfect New York summer day?
NO NYC IS GREAT! It’s here and I love it. I love the lightning bugs in the park. I love the breeze biking to the edge of Red Hook to see the skyline. I love lying in the shade of Greenwood Cemetery. I love a cherry-dipped cone of Mr. Softee in Fort Greene Park. I love the impromptu dance performances in the street and the projections of string quartets projected on the Brooklyn Public Library. I love the fire hydrants spraying into the street (that really happens!) and I love seeing my friends and family I’ve missed so much. I am so happy to be here. Although. That said, I’m terrified for winter.

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1 comment

Eli Smart December 2, 2020 - 1:39 PM

My comment is regarding “The Dangerous Legacy Of White Male America.” I am a white man in my late 40s living in the midwest. For me, what I appreciate most is invisibility and personal accountability. I can move through the world without being noticed unless I choose to be. If I fail at something it is usually just “my own damn fault.” It makes me sad to know that this is not the case with all Americans. Here is hoping it will be some day soon.

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