Emily Spivack

Why do we attach such value, such emotion, to certain material objects, and not others?

Author of Worn Stories and Worn in New York

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Emily Spivack | Author of Worn Stories and Worn in New York
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

In her NYT bestseller Worn Stories, Emily Spivack collects over 60 clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers that investigate the deep, surprising connections we have to material possessions. As a curator and entrepreneur, Spivack is an expert on reconfiguring objects as devices that explore memory, assert identity, and tell the stories of our lives. 

Emily Spivack is the editor of the New York Times Bestseller Worn Stories, a collection of over 60 “clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers” that “tell the stories of our lives.” Building off this, her latest book Worn in New York: 68 Sartorial Memoirs of the City  has recently hit shelves.  She was the editor-in-chief of PopTech from 2010–2012 and the curator and editor of Threaded, the Smithsonian’s only fashion history blog. Spivack teaches as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of Fashion Design with the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She has been featured in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post among other publications.


“The idea behind this collection has been (and will be) mirrored, copied and repeated: it will inspire others. Worn stories cannot end: we all can contribute—stories that are, at the same time, unique and universal.”

ADDRESS Journal for Fashion Criticism

Since 2007, Spivack has curated Sentimental Value, an online collection of noteworthy stories about clothing and accessories found on eBay. It was also showcased as an installation with the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the Museum of Contemporary Craft and is available as a zine with Printed Matter, Inc. For six years, Spivack worked as the Executive Director of Shop Well with You, the New York-based national not-for-profit she founded to help women with cancer improve body image and quality of life by using clothing as a wellness tool. She has also produced and co-curated global salons for SustainAbility, a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to catalyze business leadership on sustainability.    

Speech Topics

Arts & Pop Culture
Worn Stories Meaningful Objects
We are surrounded by our material possessions. Some of these objects are meaningful. Others are not. Artist, writer, and editor Emily Spivack explores the connections to our personal belongings in her New York Times bestselling book and web project, Worn Stories, a collection of stories about clothing and memory. What makes the same t-shirt, wristwatch, bowl, or chair meaningful to one person yet meaningless to another? How and why do we place value on some of our possessions but disregard others? What makes clothing—both outstanding, glamorous pieces as well as everyday items—particularly evocative? And what can the stories we tell about material objects say about fashion, sustainability, family history, identity, and more? Spivack, who also launched the Smithsonian’s only clothing history blog among other projects related to clothing and storytelling, is an expert on reconfiguring objects as devices that tell the stories of our lives.