We’ve been told to never judge a book by its cover, but this social media movement is remixing that cliché. Thanks to the efforts of Brooklyn native Yahdon Israel, #LiterarySwag is bridging the world of style and literature in the best way.
For Israel, it all happened by happy accident. One day while waiting for the A train at West 4th in NYC, it was the sight of a guy reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” in his Reeboks, fatigues, and a flannel shirt that inspired him to snap his first iteration of #LiterarySwag. At the time, the hashtag was being used sporadically, but for him he felt it could be something more, so he ran with it. He tried to rally his friends around the tag, but it wasn’t until he opened it up and started the inaugural contest to see who could snap the most pictures of swagged out readers that his vision took off.
As the contest took over Bookstagram feeds, Israel and participants continued to evolve the #LiterarySwag movement. And he realized he had started something of value because people were taking it to their own levels, and as he says, “You create until someone improves on it.” And that’s when the actual fashion element came into the picture as he encouraged people to post what they were reading and wearing, which proved to be even more stylish than imagined because readers began to match their clothes to their books.
It’s all about creativity with Israel, and also building bridges. It’s an interesting dynamic when you think about how seemingly opposite the two worlds are, in that avid readers are dressing their minds with storytelling, and fashionistas are storytelling in how they dress. However, the blending of the two worlds seems like a perfect fit, and allows for readers of all styles to share their love of literature. Now jumping from his Instagram page to book club meetings, and also flipping the script on the ubiquitous red carpet inquiries of “Who are you wearing?” Israel continues to take #LiterarySwag to new levels.
Sharing in this moment of sartorial storytelling is definitely a shining example of the power of social media and millennial mobilization. This year’s #LiterarySwag contest will take place over the summer, so get your summer reading lists and closets in order because that $2000 prize is enough to keep your bookshelf and shoe rack, stacked. And make sure to follow Yahdon Israel on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest in #LiterarySwag…and don’t forget to start tagging your threads!