via Teen Vogue
I’ve been a Teen Vogue reader since I was in middle school and I truly feel like the magazine has grown up with me. First, covering the basic fashion and beauty stories that I poured over in middle school and freshman year of high school. Now, the magazine also covers current social and political issues in a way that millennials want to hear about them, which is exactly what the more mature, college freshman in me cares about, in addition to all of the fashion stories of course. Especially after attending Teen Vogue Fashion University in 2015 and meeting the now editor in chief, Elaine Welteroth, I am so excited to keep following Teen Vogue through this new phase of diverse and digital content (and of course still read my print copy, ha!).
For those who don’t know, there has been a recent change in leadership at Teen Vogue. Formerly, Amy Astley was the Editor in Chief. Astley founded the magazine back in 2003 by developing a new magazine niche: a magazine for teenagers beyond celebrity gossip and personality quizzes. Teen Vogue was exactly what it sounded like: a teen fashion magazine featuring trends and fashion that young people cared about. It was truly genius at the time; there was nothing like it. Sure, there were teen gossip magazines like Bop and Tiger Beat where teens could read about which celebrities were dating and who was performing at the most recent award show, but there was nothing with intelligent content that discussed anything besides the latest Hollywood happenings.
Since then, Teen Vogue has evolved into so much more. In addition to the fashion and beauty stories that we all know and love, the magazine also has sections titled “Fashion at Work”, which profiles women in the fashion industry about their job, successes and life, “Social Studies”, a place where familiar faces and credible experts discuss issues that matter to Generation Z, and editorials and interviews that cover hot button topics and issues like the upcoming presidential election, feminism and body image.
Their most recent September issue was described as the “for girls by girls issue” in which primarily women modeled, wrote and photographed the issue. The magazine also worked with Amanda de Cadnet of the #GirlGaze project which pushes for the female point of view from behind the camera, not just in front of it. The September 2016 cover star is also significant. Tavi Gevinson, creator and Editor in Chief of website Rookie Mag, actress and feminist icon, further emphasizes Teen Vogue’s commitment to feminism and covering people and issues that are significant and quite frankly, more than just a pretty face.
Reading an exclusive interview between Amandla Stenberg and Gloria Steinem epitomizes the way in which Teen Vogue is killing it lately. They’re following the number one rule my high school English teacher taught us: “show, don’t tell”. Teen Vogue isn’t telling its readers what to think, how to vote or who to be, but covering important national issues in a way that doesn’t turn off the typical teenage girl. Hearing someone they are familiar with (Amandla) talk with Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, is much more appealing than just reading an interview or editorial about Gloria Steinem. This story was also unique because in addition to this story being in print, there was exclusive content with this two women on Instagram. This is significant because those following Teen Vogue who are not subscribed to the print magazine still get a taste of their content and point of view.
Hillary Clinton’s essay in Teen Vogue’s September issue was an important step in making the magazine more of a platform for discussion. While Teen Vogue isn’t specifically telling their readers to “vote for Clinton”, they’re publishing content that encourages readers to be engaged and educated about this nation’s political environment, get involved in issues of importance and exercise their right to vote for their candidate of choice on Election Day in November.
Teen Vogue is no longer just a place to get inspiration for the season’s latest styles. It is an intersection of culture, fashion, politics, social issues and feminism in a way these topics have never been covered before. It is a place to learn about feminism, current social and political issues and fashion, and in the process, readers will become more empowered, confident and educated. The content we read molds who we become. Teen Vogue is gearing up to inspire and teach a generation of empowered, confident, multi-hyphenated women. The way in which Teen Vogue is covering these topics tells their readers, primarily teenage girls, that they have a voice and that their opinion and point of view matters because they are just as important to society as anyone else.
With this shift in content also comes a shift in the content presentation. Instead of just the print magazine, Teen Vogue is utilizing all social media platforms and new technologies to connect with their audience in every possible way. Teen Vogue is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (teenvogue), Pinterest, Tumblr and more. Not only are they on these platforms, they are in control of these platforms. As soon as there is a new update or trend, they’re on it. Facebook live? They’re pros. Instagram stories? Started using them the day they released. Teen Vogue knows the purpose of each different platform and caters their content accordingly. They’re not blasting the same image and copy on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. They’re individually publishing content that truly belongs on each platform. So, their followers are actually engaging with their content instead of just scrolling through it.
What was once just a monthly print magazine is now an online community.
Business of Fashion recently published a spread on Teen Vogue and its new chain of command: Elaine Welteroth (editor), Phillip Picardi (digital editor) and Marie Suter (creative director). Their article captures the business perspective on the changes I have discussed. The magazine’s previous business model in which Amy Astley was editor in chief clearly needed a refresh in order to capture their millennial audience. With Elaine as Beauty & Health editor, it was a start, as she was paving the way for Teen Vogue on social media through the use of her own personal social media handles, especially her Snapchat.
Reading Teen Vogue and seeing Elaine, Phil and Marie at the top is almost like getting advice and talking with an older brother or sister. They are at the upper cusp of millennials: old enough to be wiser and more mature than their readers but young enough to truly understand the latest tech trends and things their readers care about.
Teen Vogue‘s commitment to their audience, diverse range of content topics and their mastery of social media is why I believe that this new era of Teen Vogue is going to be more powerful and impactful than ever before.