Though it devoted more than eight pages to her in this week’s issue, The New Yorker doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know about Tavi, the 14-year-old fashion blogger who has become an industry figure as adored as she is polarizing. Some facts you may not know about the wunderkind high-school freshman:
• She turned down requests to appear on Oprah and the Tonight Show. “The ‘Good Morning America’ audience — I guess that’s just not a crowd whose eyes I want on me,” Tavi explains.
• She hired publicist Dana Meyerson, who is based in Chicago and also represents rappers Diplo and Rah Digga. The shoot Tavi styled for BlackBook came about after Meyerson pitched the magazine the idea.
• Meyerson is approaching Tavi’s favorite labels, like Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Celine, and Chanel about advertising on Tavi’s site. But don’t expect banners at the top of the page: Meyerson is trying to get labels to work on videos with Tavi, along the lines of the video she did with Rodarte to promote their Target line, so they look like collaborations instead of straight advertising.
• She usually isn’t paid for speaking appearances.
• Her mother is Norwegian, which explains the origin of her unique first name.
• Her room is just the “size of a van” with lime-green walls, a color picked out by her sister. Tavi hates the shade, so she tries to hide it by sticking pictures of people like Lauren Santo Domingo over it.
• She rides to the Salvation Army to shop in the “Gevinson family van, a 2007 Toyota with bits of trash on the floor.”
• She drinks Nesquick.
• Some boys in her school pick on her. Lizzie Widdicombe writes:
In Tavi’s homeroom, the students had arranged themselves in gender-segregated clusters. When she walked in, a jocky boy in sweatpants announced the results of what had apparently been a discussion at his table: “Tavi, we decided you were the first one to listen to ‘Jesus, Etc.,’ by Wilco.” (Tavi is a friend of Spencer Tweedy, another fourteen-year-old blogger, whose father is Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.) The comment wasn’t mean, exactly, but it singled her out. Instead of responding witheringly, Tavi put her head down.
But as far as addressing Tavi’s longevity, and that segment of the industry which isn’t really interested in the point of view of a 14-year-old and finds her front-row placement at shows befuddling, Widdicombe only touches on it. She mentions Anne Slowey of Elle’s controversial and not-exactly-positive response to Tavi’s review of the collections in Harper’s Bazaar. Widdicombe also spoke to Elle creative director Joe Zee:
“Let’s say Tavi’s fourteen, versus someone like Cathy Horyn”—of the Times—“who’s done this for x amount of years and can say, ‘When I was at the Galliano show ten years ago, this is how it was.’ Tavi can’t say that, because she was four ten years ago.”
Widdicombe notes that the fickle fashion world might not be so interested in Tavi — who now at 14, the writer describes as “curvy” — as she enters adulthood. Tavi responds:
“I guess that’s sort of a worry of mine,” she said. “That I won’t be relevant anymore, and then I just won’t be able to do things like go to Fashion Week.” She went on, “If I lost all my readers tomorrow, I would still blog, just because it’s a place for me to get my thoughts down. As I get older, no one will be able to do the ‘Can you believe it? This kid’s thirteen!’ thing. That’s fine. I’d rather get attention for any credibility I have, and if I don’t get attention at all maybe that will tell me I never had any credibility. In which case I’ll just watch the live streams. The main thing is the clothes.”
Tavi Says [NYer, not online]