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American Fashion Podcast’s Producer Advocated Ethical Fashion When It Was Still Uncool

American Fashion Podcast's Producer, Charles Beckwith, pictured in the MouthMedia Network main studio.
Charles Beckwith

There are several hundred fashion podcasts you can listen to today, but when American Fashion Podcast launched, the fashion podcasting space was a ghost town.

Where the series came from, as told by American Fashion Podcast’s producer and host, Charles Beckwith

“I think Yahoo Style had published a bunch of episodes of a podcast and then stopped about a year before I even looked, and there was some sort of weird WWD thing that maybe wasn’t even actually made by WWD, and then a ton of makeup podcasts, and for some reason Man Repeller was in the fashion category. I went looking for an interesting fashion podcast to learn more about sustainability on my commute and there was just nothing. A great deal of where the spirit of AFP comes from is in asking questions from a genuine place. I was a photographer and filmmaker, I didn’t even know how to turn on a sewing machine, but I was in the middle of the Manufacture New York project and wanted to learn more, and that’s where the show really came from. It’s also why we don’t tend to repeat similar stories, because if I’m not curious it doesn’t work.”

“It came from three things: I wanted to learn, I was genuinely angry and fired up about things like Rana Plaza and greenwashing, and I was just baffled that the major magazines didn’t promote the American designers. The covers of American fashion magazines almost without fail feature Italian and French brands every month, and no one from the city where the publications are all actually headquartered is given the time of day. That just seemed wrong, and it’s still wrong. Creating American Fashion was a reaction to a bunch of very wrong things, and I think that resonated with a lot of people in the industry. We had over a thousand followers downloading the show every week within about three months of our soft launch, and it’s just grown and grown. We’re in this strange space where we are followed by both workroom contingents and Fortune 500 CEOs.”

— Charles Beckwith, American Fashion Podcast’s Producer

American Fashion Podcast’s Producer and Host

Charles Beckwith has been the producer and host of American Fashion for over 250 episodes (and several million downloads) since 2014.

The series was created in response to an absence of critical discourse about ethical sustainable practices in the fashion industry at the time. It was also a response to the lack of features for American fashion designers in the consumer press. Lots of people were doing interesting innovative things, but the major magazines seemd to have no interest in covering it.

A hallmark of the series is how it is so clearly driven by curiosity. Charles rarely writes down questions in advance, just a few notes about key topics, preferring to keep the conversations with guests as organic as possible. Often fashion experts have to limit the depth of their public discussions, simply because the public doesn’t know enough to follow them, but in this podcast, they are free to go as “inside baseball” as they please, with the occasional break prompted by the hosts to spell out an uncommon acronym.

Originally the co-hosts were stylist and designer management consultant Seth Friedermann and writer Lisa-Maria Radano. Around the 100th episode, they were replaced with veteran fashion executive Cathy Schepis, who has helped drive the series ever since.

In 2015, AFP spawned a spinoff sister series focused on fashion technology and retail technology, called Fashion Is Your Business. Together, they were the basis for forming MouthMedia Network in 2016. There is some crossover, AFP has featured interviews with several fashiontech company founders.

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The Serious Fashion Podcast

The American Fashion Podcast series veers hard away from the usual hype-based fashion content, delivering instead a deep dive under the hood of the fashion business. AFP was essentially the first fashion sustainability podcast, and has been a beacon of advocacy for reshoring and Made In The USA (local is sustainable) since its very first episode.

As host, Charles Beckwith has rarely shied away from openly criticizing the pace and methods through which the fashion industry responds to its myriad open-secret problems like worker exploitation and the use of toxic processes and materials in distant factories. In large part, this ongoing ethical concern is driven by Charles’ strict following of the secular humanist “do no harm” principle and humanism’s core commitment to the advancement of the human race.

Business-Focused Podcast Production

MouthMedia Network provides podcast production services for businesses and maintains a network of industry-specific innovation showcase programs that are used to provide targeted business development services for clients.

Charles is a Founder and serves as Chief Innovation Officer at MouthMedia Network, also known as Open Source Business Inc.

Listen to American Fashion:

What should I listen to first?

Through American Fashion and Fashion Is Your Business podcasts, listeners have met some amazing people. Here are just a few of their stories, in a special playlsit featuring some of Charles’ favorite interviews.

For more interviews like these, subscribe to the American Fashion Podcast Archives.

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