The new docuseries “Worn Stories” takes a look at the clothes we wear and the stories behind them. Brooklyn author Emily Spivack saw memories and stories in her closet and she knew she was not alone.
“I decided, well, what would happen if I asked people who I admired — cultural figures, interesting folks, people even I found on Craigslist — and I just started finding these incredible stories and realized that our clothing was just this overlooked storytelling device,” says Spivack.
Spivack wrote two books, “Worn in New York” and the New York Times best-seller, “Worn Stories.” Those stories are now part of the eight-part docuseries on Netflix.
“I think that the reason I wanted to turn ‘Worn Stories’ into a TV show is because there were some incredible stories that I was able to gather in the books,” says the author. “I wanted to be able to elaborate. I wanted people to be able to see the person telling the story to feel the clothing, the TV archival material, to bring the story of life kind of to the next level.”
The series introduces viewers to people from all walks of life: a Korean immigrant in Queens who shines when she wears a special gift from a Buddhist monk, to a club kid from the 90s in Manhattan. Several stories in the series feature New Yorkers.
The array of stories range from a Columbia student’s dreams to become an astronaut to Harlem’s “Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia Woods, and her granddaughter’s story about the white dress she wore to her grandmother’s funeral.
“I love this story of Trenness Woods-Black, who was the granddaughter of Sylvia’s, the iconic restaurant in Harlem, and the dress that she wore to her grandmother’s funeral,” says Spivack. “She was running around producing, getting ready for the funeral, and she just needed a dress quickly. And she talks about how it was like her grandmother sent her this dress when she walked into the store and it was a brand that she had her grandmother really loved, and she talks about how she was wearing the dress during the funeral, the ceremony.”
These stories go beyond clothing for Spivack. For her, it’s about connection no matter who you are.
“Clothing can be this equalizer,” she says. “Whether it’s a T-shirt or a wedding gown, we all put those clothes on and we have experiences as we’re wearing those clothes. New York is an amazing place for high and low. And there are so many rich stories, no matter where you are.”
“Worn Stories” is currently streaming on Netflix.