The 10 best Substack newsletters to subscribe to
The best journalism right now about fashion, Gen Z, and international snacks is coming direct to your inbox, courtesy of the Substack “newsletter bubble”.
Opulent Tips by Rachel Tashjian
Subscribe if: you love high fashion and can score an invite
It’s so fun to read about a topic (fashion) that is easy to feel like you know, until you realise you really don’t, so you need an expert (GQ’s style writer and taste aficionado Rachel Tashjian) to explain it to you. Her Substack is broken up into sections (called departments), and is currently invite only. Don’t dismay, however; she adds new people fairly frequently and announces when she’s accepting new subs on her Twitter. My favourite part of this one is that Tashjian – who has a singular clothing taste and a vast knowledge of Princess Diana – writes quippy bits of copy that aren’t quite articles, but “we’re all thinking it!” E.g. “Rihanna doesn’t seem to sell any clothes; the kids hate Vivienne Westwood and think she is a poseur.”
Trissues by Tricia Gilbride
Subscribe if: you like good takes on the latest celebrity goss
The subject line of the latest instalment of Trissues reads “Margaret Qualley is psyops.” It dissected – via a well-researched timeline – the relationships of Pete Davidson and Kaia Gerber and, separately, Shia LaBeouf and Margaret Qualley. Gerber and Davidson apparently met when they both modelled for Alexander Wang, who was recently accused of sexual misconduct and giving molly water to people and got semi-cancelled but not much else.
So anyway, inside Gilbride poses a theory that perhaps Qualley – who didn’t dump LaBeouf fast enough after he was accused of sexual abuse towards his ex FKA twigs – is an industry plant type girlfriend. It’s an interesting theory that would probably get one sued for defamation if she were to publish it anywhere but a newsletter.
Subscribe if: your brain needs a break
“It’s not that I’m burnt out or spread too thin, it’s that I keep unlocking these bonus levels of burnout.”
This is a line from Folu’s foodie newsletter Unsnackable: a fun, deeply witty and perceptive read that blends slight existentialism (relatable) with roundups of obscure snacks from around the world. Joining Folu on her weekly quest to find the perfect snack makes for a soothing scroll – a relieving one, even. Let us channel 2020’s pent up energy into reading about Red Bull sugar drops from Thailand, fruity cinnamon Skittles from Russia or even bubblegum-flavoured ice tea from Luxembourg, please.
Today in Tabs by Rusty Foster
Subscribe if: you want to stay up to date with politics, culture and media
Described as “a rapid-fire assortment of random links and jokes”, Today in Tabs is actually an old newsletter that started in 2013 and ended in 2016. It’s akin to how Gawker was in its heyday, and essentially is a fine-toothed combing through the link minefield of the internet from a Very Online® journalist (Foster), who has written for Fast Company, Newsweek and Medium.
Some of the emails are political, all of them are entertaining. A recent one was about how the FBI and CIA have been mandated to release all the research they found about alien life forms, and another talked about the annoying TikTok trend of sea shanties, which I now can’t stop listening to.
The Dirt by Kyle Chayka et al.
Subscribe if: you don’t want to read a novel but love entertainment
The best thing about The Dirt – an email about entertainment – is that it’s short. Kyle Chayka, an author and sometimes writer for The New Yorker, knows we don’t have a lot of time. He sends out The Dirt every morning without fail, mostly written by him, sometimes by guest writers. The subjects contained therein span everything from Bridgerton (to which an entire week was devoted), Industry on HBO (another themed week), the storming of the Capitol and the new Sally Rooney book. His takes are great because they are longer than tweets, but not entire essays. Amen and Awomen to being brief.
Gen Yeet by Terry Nguyen
Subscribe if: you’re sick to death of the mainstream news cycle
Terry Nguyen’s bi-weekly (or monthly) offering has it all: advice on managing your internet addiction, incisive commentary on America’s student debt crisis, expert meme deconstruction and article recommendations, all wrapped up into a newsletter that is part stream of consciousness, part window into the cultural and political mess the US finds itself in.
As a seasoned staff writer for Vox’s consumer culture column The Goods, Nguyen’s essays cut through the bullshit to offer intelligent and balanced insight into Gen‑Z identity and good old consumer trends.
Hung Up by Hunter Harris
Subscribe if: you enjoy a bit of spice with your culture gossip
Hunter Harris left Vulture as one of its marquee reporters to strike it solo at Substack and bring her silly takes about Bradley Cooper’s bad tan in A Star Is Born and Leo DiCaprio being jealous of whomever Rihanna is dating to a weekly newsletter. (Followers of @hunteryharris on Twitter will know of what I speak.)
Every Friday around happy hour, an odd time perhaps to send out a newsletter, Harris opines on why Martin Scorsese has stopped wearing his signature square-framed glasses, how Lucas Hedges mastered his powerful listening faces in Let Them All Talk, and how Rihanna and A$AP Rocky are “doing it”.
Sitting Pretty by Tyler Watamanuk
Subscribe if: you love chairs
Tyler Watamanuk occasionally writes for GQ, but my favourite work of his has always been his now-defunct column in the soon-to-be-defunct Garage magazine, also titled Sitting Pretty. Watamanuk is an expert on furniture design, specifically chairs. He knows how certain ones became popular, and talks of the backstory behind their designs and what it means when they get ripped off by mass-market furniture sellers like West Elm and IKEA. I have time for many lofty pursuits, but I have just never found the time to look into furniture properly. I’m so glad this lands in my inbox.
High Tea by Alice Ophelia and Faye Maidment
Subscribe if: you live and breathe TikTok
This piping hot weekly newsletter provides the niche digi-cultural commentary you never knew you needed. Spearheaded by best friends Alice Ophelia (an American writer and social researcher) and Faye Maidment (a Brit digital marketer), High Tea scratches beneath the surface of fairly innocuous TikTok trends (dueting, Olivia Rodrigo, the Ratatouille musical) in order to analyse what they reveal about Gen Z.
As self-professed “zeitgeist addicts”, Maidment and Ophelia connect the dots from one side of the globe to another, delivering astute deep dives into what happens when culture goes digital.
Rave New World by Michelle Lhooq
Subscribe if: you desperately miss partying
Michelle Lhooq’s newsletter feels like a secret. It’s where I first read about a rave that took place in Brooklyn where decoys were put in place to deceive police, and two gay lovers were filming a NSFW video for their OnlyFans on the makeshift outdoor dancefloor. Wild! Partying in the pandemic has been a hot button issue covered by Lhooq, from differing and authoritative points of view.
Lhooq also anecdotally reports on drugs and other psychedelics – ketamine is on the rise in New York, shrooms are popular in LA. Raving aside, there have been hilarious dispatches from the #FreeBritney movement and the recent MAGA Capitol storming.