These 2 Media Brands Prove That Fashion ≠ Frivolity

Valerie Hoke
December 14, 2018

Ah, sweet, sweet content. Where would we be without it?

I began this blog as a roundup of my favorite sources of content in 2018, but as I expanded on the first couple of items on my list, I realized that I was writing a short manifesto on a very particular type of content. And never one to turn down an opportunity to write a manifesto, I embraced it.

Here’s the thing. I like fashion. I like clothes, and personal style, both my own and that of people I admire. But that doesn’t mean I’m buying $500 purses when I see them in a magazine or only judging myself and those around me by the things we wear.

I appreciate a bold lewk.

It’s no secret that women often face ridicule from society (read: men) for the things they choose to do and care about. So when I, a woman, find a community that shamelessly celebrates those things rather than trying to apologize for them, I’m automatically interested.

Behold, the subjects of my manifesto: Man Repeller and Glamour, two media outlets whose content, though not limited to just the past year, inspired me in 2018. Let’s dig in.

Man Repeller

I mean, isn’t the title enough to interest you? For those unfamiliar with the site, Man Repeller describes itself as a place to “explore the expansive constellation of things women care about from a place of openness and humor, with the conviction that an interest in fashion doesn’t minimize one’s intellect.”

The site and online community is rooted in fashion, yes, but I like to think of it more like a scrappier version of Runway from The Devil Wears Prada that doesn’t take itself as seriously. Rather than trying to be the visionary holy grail of fashion, Man Repeller is all about embracing playfulness and celebrating the idea of nothing being off-limits when it comes to how one chooses to dress.

More importantly, MR (as readers affectionately call it) actively rejects the notion that things like beauty and fashion (things that, ahem, women often get ridiculed for caring about) are not frivolous and are not unworthy of thoughtful and intellectual discussion. The titles of MR articles range from “Do you care when someone copies your style?” to “The power of recognizing that fear is part of the deal.” They talk about clothes, yes, but they also talk about complicated emotions, what it means to be an intersectional feminist, and how to play a role in eliminating gun violence.

MR also has a knack for taking its online community offline in a variety of creative ways. Last summer, they hosted a summer camp for their team and readers alike. They recently launched a bowling league for readers to take their conversations into the real world. And as my pal Jackie detailed in a recent blog, they released one of the season’s most dazzling lines of holiday products called the #MRHolidayBuffet.

From Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine to writers like Haley Nahman and Harling Ross, members of the MR team have become extensions of the brand through their own content, be it via the voices they write in or the engaging nature of their Instagram Stories. Each team member is first and foremost a fan of the brand, and that makes it easy to feel like their stories come from trusted friends rather than internet strangers who you’ve never met. I follow these women individually not just because they write for Man Repeller, but because they’ve proven to be interesting people with valuable perspectives and insights from their daily lives.

I could say more about the accolades of their content: as far as I’m concerned, MR publishes the best #sponsoredcontent in the game, and their genius art direction produces some of the most astoundingly original and creative photography on the internet (plz see above). But above all, MR taught me that I don’t have to feel silly or apologetic for ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a cool coat or taking a few risks in how I emit my own personal style.

Glamour Magazine

Ok, look. I’m one of those people who admittedly used to think that magazines with titles like Glamour must be full of totally mindless garbage. But sometime in the past year, I got an email that a bunch of my American Airlines miles were about to expire, and that I could cash them in for magazine subscriptions instead. In a mad rush of Thou Shalt Support Print Media feelings, I used those miles on subscriptions to Wired, Glamour, and Food & Wine (though that one was for my mom).

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Glamour is actually, for complete lack of a better term, woke. This is not some trivial, mindless excuse for a magazine. There is plenty of focus on clothing, beauty, and lifestyle, sure, but as previously mentioned, those things are not fundamentally lacking in intellectual thought.

When I flip through the pages of the magazine each month, I’m consistently impressed by the attention to diversity in both its models and subject matter. I’ve read stories in Glamour about Native American women, disabled women, women who are activists, and women running for local office in teeny tiny towns. Recently, five of the Parkland survivors and March for Our Lives activists were featured on their cover as Women of the Year. Even interviews with celebrities often turn into insightful discussions about topics like intersectional feminism and the importance of using fame as a platform for social issues.

I could go on, but the point is this: the team at Glamour unabashedly embraces what they believe and threads it throughout their editorial content. Not every publication is willing to do that in an era where paying subscriptions are low and people expect to get everything they read for free online. I can’t speak for their online content, since I don’t really consume it, but when it comes to their monthly magazine publication, I can only hope that the Glamour way of thinking permeates other types of print media.


Women—regardless of what they enjoy, how they dress, or how they simply exist in the world—are not limited to any particular lane defined by their interests. Regardless of whether we love putting together outfits or couldn’t care less about fashion trends, we can still be insightful thinkers with important things to say. But overall, this conversation is not limited to the topic of fashion: It’s about refusing to let societal demands dictate what women should and shouldn’t do with their time and their energy. 

Your turn: Are there are any sources of content in 2018 that inspired you?