7 September 2011

Tavi’s Taking Over

Tavi Gevinson is at the forefront of the new approach to fashion and journalism as she leads the way with smart witty writing aimed directly at teenage girls. This week marks the launch of Tavi’s online magazine, ‘Rookie,’ (rookiemag.com), and at only a mere 15 years old, she has truly cemented her name in the industry as someone to watch.

The miniature blogger with the eccentric style flew onto everyone’s radars back in 2008 when she began her fashion blog, ‘Style Rookie,’ at the tender age of 11! Since then she’s appeared on the cover of Pop Magazine, attended New York and Tokyo Fashion Weeks, was featured in LOVE Magazine, interview by Pixie Geldof and caused controversy at Paris Fashion Week for her larger than life bow.

The tiny sensation recently spoke to Stephanie Trong from New York Magazine about the new development in her ever growing empire and how it feels to be crowned, ‘The future of journalism,’ by Lady Gaga.

When did you first want to start a project for teenage girls?
I guess it was in May of 2010. Obviously
Sassy has been coming up over and over, that was what inspired it. In the beginning, I just thought it'd be a really fun, unique thing, but then when my first year of high school started and, as the year went on, it became something that I felt much more strongly about in the sense of its potential to not only be aesthetically pleasing and have funny, clever writing, but to actually touch on some experiences. It made me feel like this was much more urgent than when I started and I just thought it would be cool.

It's interesting that you're actually in the age demographic that this project is geared toward, as opposed to something like Sassy, which was largely done by women in their twenties who were sort of taking on that older sister role.
Yeah, there's something to be said there for sure. But I'm not making, like, an "it gets better" video. That would be kind of annoying from your peer, and I don't have the experience to do that. To me, what I'm writing for the site and how I'm overseeing it, a lot of it is really almost selfish because it's really just what I like or what I think maybe doesn't get said enough. And people are like, "But is Tavi the average American girl or not?" But there are some things that are just universal amongst teenage girls, and I don't mean, like, slumber parties. I mean something like when you first start noticing other people noticing your body, that is a weird experience and is part of every culture somehow. I also don't think the average American teenage girl really exists, I just think that there are shared qualities and experiences.

But you're doing something that's incredibly adult on one level, too.
Yeah, it can feel that way. I guess people know of my blog and they know that I go to Fashion Week every now and then, but I'm in school the whole rest of the year. And I'm not going to be writing about, like, "So, you know that thing when you're a teenage girl and you go to Fashion Week and this happens?" "Yeah, me too, let's talk about it!" Not only do I not want to write that, but no one will want to read it.

What about your personal style? It seems very much like you still have a bit of fun getting dressed.
Well that's the other thing, feeling kind of isolated from that culture is inspiring in a sense because I guess you're less conscious of what's trendy. I haven't been as into Tumblr or Twitter lately, and I like looking for inspiration elsewhere. I think it's been much more exciting for me to find ways for fashion to relate to something like
Twin Peaks, rather than to a collection I liked. I mean, I would rather dress like a book character — I don't really want to spend brainpower strategizing about [what to wear for] street-style photographers when I go to Fashion Week. I also value being comfortable now more than I used to.

How would you describe the tone of Rookie?
I've just been thinking about making it different from my blog. It's still my voice, but in our first issue, I haven't written anything about fashion. Also, I want to know that people are interested in it and think it's good without the whole "15-year-old starting a website" pull. And it's not going to be only my point of view.

And what about the content?
A lot of websites run on a system of having to get a post up every half-hour, and a lot of those end up being filler posts because they don't actually have that much to say. Rookie is kind of my response to that because we have three posts a day, and we plan everything a month ahead of time. And I like that. After being in all these meetings with publishing companies and advertisers and stuff, it's like everyone just wants to trick people into reading their website. If the content is good, people will read it — you don't have to create some funny little "trying to be cutesy" gadget or whatever to coax them. We don't really have snappy names for our categories, they're pretty straightforward: "Movies and TV," "Sex and Love." I guess a couple of the more abstract ones would be "Eye Candy," which is
a photo story by one of our photographers, or "Dear Diary," in which four of our contributors submit a diary entry each week.

How does it feel to be called out by Lady Gaga as the future of journalism?
I'm flattered though I'm not sure I agree!

Did you know she read your blog?
I did not!

Anything you want to say back to her?
Thank you for the compliment, your
"Bad Romance" video will forever have a place in my soul, and read my post where I rewrote your "Telephone" video.

A lot of adults, outside of Lady Gaga, have connected with your writing, too, why do you think that is?
I think people get excited about someone discovering something that blew their mind when they were younger. I think it makes people kind of nostalgic and happy. That's one of the really great things about the Internet, that it can bring people together in that way of just being interested in the same stuff. I love getting emails from women who read
Sassy and were really into riot grrrl music when they were a teenager. I think those conversations are interesting, they restore my faith in the Internet a bit.

And it seems some older people are intimidated by those who are using technology in all these new ways.
I think there's this scrambling — that for people to feel like they're a relevant or interesting person they have to be spouting out one-liners on Twitter every couple of hours. It's really interesting how people, how the world, is trying to figure out what it means to have an extension of our identity, or a whole new identity, online. And it's a really unique situation where, for once, it's something that young people understand better than adults in a lot of ways, or are more used to it. But it's such this scary powerful thing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In my basement on a bean bag chair, watching
The Simpsons and eating pizza.

Do you have any plans to go to college?
Definitely. I don't know how long I'll work on Rookie. I think I'd like to be able to do a lot of different things, definitely write, but maybe explore something like movies, too. Which is probably why I'll go to college for something that's just a good, broad foundation of knowledge, like art history.

It's going to be so interesting when you're not a teenager anymore.
I know! I asked my friend, I was like, "What if I never let go of being obsessed with teenagers and become this really pathetic adult who's like, 'Am I hip, you guys?'" And she said — and it felt really accurate to me — that I would move to the woods and become a hermit, which is probably true.

Full article available at: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2011/09/tavi_gevinson_explains_her_new.html

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