This past Fashion week I had a few conversations about 14 year old blogger Tavi Gevinson. She began blogging from runway shows at 12 years old in 2008… and if you can believe it, some fashionistas asked me “Why are you excited about Tavi? She’s been big for over a year now, so she’s like old news, right?”. Can you freakin’ believe that?!
How disgustingly short can trends be these day when we can call a blossoming 14 year old writer “old news”. On another tip, this fashion week was good to Tavi, as she sat in several front rows to the big shows. So right now, there is a fresh new ripple of awareness surrounding her after this past Fashion Week, (one of the weeks I’ve noticed the most intense use of Social Media… almost in a dizzying way). Tavi and a few fellow peer bloggers were at the center of this storm, with marketing divisions salivating to be “down” with her blog (and audience). It’s a whole new game now.
(Tavi’s Blog Header)
About the girl. There seems to be a simplicity, intelligence, and humility here. Her blog’s bio reads: “About Me: Wears Batman capes and oversized hats. Scatters black petals on Rei Kawakubo’s doorsteps and serenades her in rap. I wish I was Daria but I get too excited about things like candy to be deadpan all the time.” Her old Vimeo videos are still an interesting case study. She Tweets poetic words while killing time in the front row at Fashion shows: “Grace Coddington’s hair is so big cuz it’s full of secrets.”
(Tavi’s Branded T-Shirt sells on her blog. Oh yes, she’s a self-marketer. What did you think?)
The following is a talk she gave at a conference this May 2010 to business leaders regarding Fashion marketing. Her outfit that day was a medley of brands — American Apparel, Beacons Closet (vintage), Miu Miu, and Proenza Schouler. She uses words like “non-conformist-nirvana” and makes fun of the word “edgy”. She even quotes 90′s cartoon Daria who describes the word as “created by middle aged men making a term up to sound dangerous… marketing a product that came out of focus groups”. Haha.
Here’s what I like about Tavi. She can’t be bullshitted. She represents an entire generation of youth that possesses a fine-tuned “bullshit radar”. She’s especially clear when a brand pays her for whatever reason… she is very fair and square, packed with integrity, and always draws a fine line when commerce is involved. She’ll take the money, but she’ll also offer her blunt opinion on the product and keep it moving. Like her peers, she cannot be hoodwinked and quickly loses respect for anyone who underestimates her.
She definitely knows her audience, has conviction, and can’t be bought. But she can, however, be wined and dined by Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. In her writing, she is practically growing up in front of us, wrestling with her shadow. Dazzled by the bells and whistles of a spoiled Fashion Week, but also grabbing a lunch with Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna who seems to have taken her under her wing reminding her that “people are dying” somewhere… to which Tavi (in that deep need to be grounded) writes on her blog “Duh” and gives thanks for the reminder.
But back to her insights that only a girl her age can share. What is her opinion on this fast-paced generation? Fashion is no longer about the 10 year catchwords. No longer can we expect the decades trends such as the 80′s look, or the 60′s looks. Trends move too fast she says. There is a “new democracy” creating this “unpredictability of trends”. I’ve always felt this speed-freak behavior contributed to the A.D.D. of the new generation. But after hearing Tavi speak in her chill knowledgeable manner, I’m realizing it’s less about short attention span and more about the responsibility of navigating through an endless and bottomless reservoir of resources to learn from. Instead, people like Tavi are the new proud “study-masters”… carefully absorbing pop culture, history, art, and fashion like a new form of scholar… it seems the badass thing to do is “specialization”, and why not? The internet is a mobile portable library if you know which questions to ask, and if you know who you truly want to be as a person when you grow up. College is a bit too late. When you are as young Tavi, you want specialization now…
(Earning her seat at the big table.)
With this vast expansive “research center” now called the Internet, Tavi states that people her age are more interested in diving into one topic holistically… instead of taking scraps of information. The brands she appreciates the most have encapsulated their worlds through art installations or museums — from Prada to Comme De Garcon. She wants to feel “schooled”, educated properly on sophisticated brands, and made to feel cultured. The successful brands today are the ones that know their history, and provide almost an encyclopedic museum online for these young new consumers… it’s the ones who create a world to inhabit, not just product.
(A stash of ‘zines Kathleen Hanna hooked Tavi up with)
In an era where celebrity is bestowed on people overnight, it’ll be interesting to see how this girl wields this sword of influence while maintaining her core identity. Damn, I hope she grows up with a straight head. Now I’m feeling a little overprotective about the girl myself, and I don’t even know her. She seems like a 90′s Sassy girl that has just time-warped into the year 2010… with a complete knowledge of Claire Dane’s early angst in My So Called Life, a TV show she catches up on these days.
(Image from her blog)
The other night, I ran into Jane Pratt again, whom I wrote about on this blog a few weeks ago, and we both had a good conversation about Tavi, and how special her contribution has been in this digital age of media. I’m sure other New Yorkers that have read her blog (who are a jaded bunch naturally) have had similar conversations about her and the zeitgeist she represents… so I feel this precious need to NOT discard her as a 1 year trend, but rather to introduce her blog to people OUTSIDE of fashion. I’m writing about Tavi this week because there are a ton of other people I know that are NOT in the fashion business… and I think she is not only a compelling writer, but overall a decent human being that gives me faith in young minds today.
(Kathleen Hanna. Photo found on Tavi’s blog)
In addition to Fashion-philes “donning her in”, I’d like to see Tavi mingle and contemplate with “political-philes” and “cine-philes”… maybe expand beyond fashion just a little. She’s a good leader, and more importantly, the girl has a vision. We might be seeing the next multi-media Jane Pratt mobilize a whole new legion of women to think for themselves. Maybe that’s too much pressure for the sprouting young one… but my bets are on her.
We’re paying attention to you, girl. Do your thang.
(Get to know her yourself at StyleRookie.com)