We all know Tavi Gevinson is Class President and Yearbook Editor, but what of the other eighty-odd grrrls who keep the school of Rookie Mag running? 19 to 37 years wise, hailing from America, Australia, Mexico, and Poland, each freaks, geeks, and cheerleaders in their own right—here, we introduce you to nine of the forever young wonders who make up Rookie’s Class of 2013.
Six years after her popular blog, Style Rookie, made her the fashion world’s class president, Tavi Gevinson has matured into the head of her very own media empire. Now, as teenage girls and their older counterparts flock to the precocious 17 year old’s online magazine, Rookie, by the millions, Gevinson balances her time between book launches, movie premieres, blogging, and yes, homework. Here, Fiona Duncan taps into the infectious energy of this kindred teen spirit. Photography by James Orlando. Styling by Jessica Bobince.
Tavi Gevinson wears voices like she wears clothes: no matter what she puts on, it becomes her. Her range is teenage, spanning from disaffected like Daria to true Belieber, sometimes within a matter of syllables. When she fangirls, which is often, she’ll trill until she’s short of breath. When she is self-deprecating, which is just as often, she’s Lisa Simpson affecting, “like, you know, whatever,” cool. Her jokes are deadpan—enthusiasm, curbed; her wisdom comes, like Yoda, couched in a smirk. “I was always drawn to fictional characters who had their own world,” she drawls, stretching the world into whiiirled, “ones with a sense of pride, honesty, and—” this with an eye-rolling grin, “truth.” When she recites gained knowledge—paraphrasing neurologist Oliver Sacks or astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, for instance—her voice booms with the authority of her subject. But on matters of taste, be it fictional characters or footwear, the underage editor is assertively girlish. “I feel like” is her go-to transition.
“I feel like this one won’t work,” Gevinson suggests to the stylist, flopping her hands in a sweater’s excess fabric, like Angela Chase in flannel. A wardrobe to rival Cher Horowitz’s has been thrown up in the Chelsea studio leased for Gevinson’s BULLETT cover shoot, but at least half of the designer samples overwhelm her Didion-tiny frame. Gevinson sorts through the racks, sizing up looks and pulling ones she likes. “I feel like this is too busy, and that’s too long. I feel like mod Margot Tenenbaum— what do you think?”
But Gevinson isn’t bossy, she’s boss. She knows what she likes and can articulate why diplomatically. She’s practiced: Gevinson has been working in media since 2008, when, age eleven, she started posting eccentrically styled selfies and runway commentary on a blog she titled Style Rookie. Her earnest enthusiasm, humor, and eloquence, combined with the novelty of all that coming from some freaky geeky junior highschooler in suburban Illinois, brought her tens of thousands of daily readers. The media frenzy that followed was inevitable. Gevinson landed front row invitations to fashion week, interviews in Vogue Paris and The New York Times, and a profile in The New Yorker. She appeared in photos next to Anna Wintour, and on the covers of the magazines L’Officiel and Pop. She collaborated with Rodarte on the fashion house’s 2009 Target collection, and wrote a column for Harper’s Bazaar.
In 2011, Gevinson embarked on the next logical phase in her career by founding Rookie, a for-us-by-us online teen magazine for little women like her—the strong-willed and creative Jo Marchs of the world. She also edits the Rookie Yearbook, a printed compilation of the best Rookie had to offer that year, “because it’s good to have something to hold in your hands.” (The sophomore edition, published by indie press Drawn & Quarterly, landed on shelves in October.) Last summer, Gevinson and her collaborators took Rookie on all American road trip, rallying readers across the country with glitter bombed picnics, sleepovers, film screenings, and Urban Outfitters art installations. A self-described “dabbler,” Gevinson also draws, sings, and acts. She recently starred alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in Nicole Holofcener’s latest film, Enough Said. She’s also a senior in high school.
The weird thing about writing about Gevinson is that she already writes so well about herself. The six years she’s spent self-publishing are forever in teen time: the difference between junior high and college applications, first bras and first loves, an awareness of recess and one of death, all of which her fans have seen—and heard—her go through. For a culture as obsessed with teen girls as ours, it’s rare we hear directly from them. We know Lolita through Humbert Humbert through Vladimir Nabokov. We know the Lisbon sisters through their boy neighbors through Jeffrey Eugenides. We know Buffy through Joss Whedon, Tracy through Woody Allen, Enid Coleslaw through Dan Clowes, Lindsay Weir through Paul Feig. And these are the “strong female characters,” ones that Gevinson, a media magpie, has penned into her canon of references. Not without asterisks, though. A full-bloom feminist critic, Gevinson would be the first to note how many of her fictional heroines are authored by men. Rookie encourages girls to reclaim the conversation.
“What makes a strong, female character is a character who has weaknesses, who has flaws, who is maybe not immediately likeable but eventually relatable,” Gevinson explained in her 2012 TED Talk, “Still Figuring It Out.” At Rookie, she continued, “we want to help represent girls in a way that shows those different dimensions” by having them represent themselves. It was an Internet native’s perfect recapitulation of the Riot Grrrl Manifesto. See Clause #3: “Because we must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings.
The original premise for Rookie was to make a Sassy for Generation Y, an alt teen publication for Millennials inspired by Jane Pratt’s riot grrrl era anti-Seventeen. Gevinson had been writing about the glory of Sassy on Style Rookie, and when Pratt heard the praise, she approached the young blogger to collaborate. In November 2010, Gevinson made an announcement on her blog that she and Pratt would be joining forces to start a Sassy reboot. In that post, Gevinson made an open call for submissions. She received over 3000 replies.
Rookie, which was viewed over one million times in its first week, eventually got made without Pratt; that would have meant partnering up with Say Media, Pratt’s company backer. Instead, Rookie remained independent so Gevinson could retain full ownership. Gevinson was guided through that decision by several people, among them Anaheed Alani, who is now the editorial director for Rookie (and to whom Gevinson gives profuse, tearful thanks whenever she can), and Alani’s husband, Ira Glass, who lent them an intern from his NPR program This American Life to research the logistics of staying indie.
At the time, Gevinson, whose mother is an artist and whose father doubles as her manager, was in tenth grade. “Ira sat me down at one point and said, You realize you’re not going to be a normal teenager now,” Gevinson recounted. “He was like, after school, you’re going to have all these responsibilities other kids don’t have. And I was like, a lot of kids have responsibilities. Besides, I’m not normal anyways. I don’t even know what normal means.”
The first time I experienced what journalists have echoed as “the Rookie generation” was in September 2012 at the New York launch for Rookie Yearbook One. The basement of independent bookstore McNally Jackson was over capacity with several generations of women. Rookie’s inner circle (among them, Petra Collins, Hazel Cills, Jenny Zhang, Emma Straub, and Laia Garcia) were there, plus Lena Dunham, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Karen Elson, Dave Hill, and gaggles of girl readers. There were tears, there was candy, there were Kahlo floral crowns; motivational speeches, dirty jokes, definitions of feminism, debates on Taylor Swift, music, dancing, more tears. At one point, Sarah Sophie Flicker, a local performance artist, took the floor and announced that the night’s festivities had renewed her hope in the future of feminism. Where she, a new mother, once felt anxious about bringing a girl into the world, she now felt excited. The basement rose up in ovation.
“It’s not a rulebook,” says Gevinson of the site and its politics, “but a discussion, a conversation, a process.” Rookie feminism is about self-knowledge and self-esteem, about fostering a community that shares, in equal measure, ideas and compliments. The magazine’s 80-odd person staff—most of whom are teen girls, though there are also some men and several adults on the masthead (“It’s good to have grown-ups around,” Gevinson once casually told me)—guide its legions of readers (Rookie broke 1 million page views within its first six days and is read internationally) in a kind of consciousness raising 2.0, sharing anecdotes and advice on everything from writer’s block to coming out to Victorian style. All posts are signed by the author’s first name. This personal touch is classic Tavi. As Lola Pellegrino, a recent but “senior” (she’s 27) inductee to the Rookie staff, expressed her editor-in-chief’s approach to me, “she is just so fucking human and personable, with her willingness to show vulnerability, with her strength in vulnerability, and her persistence in pursuing that as knowledge.”
Rookie publishes three posts a day (after school, after dinner, and before bed) and once a day on the weekends. Regular features include “Ask A Grown Man/Woman,” where grownups like Jon Hamm, Bill Hader, Beth Ditto, and Tig Notaro answer teens’ questions; “Literally the Best Thing Ever,” where Rookies rave on things they love; and “Live Through This,” a memoir series named after Hole’s CLASSIC second studio album. Then there are the editor’s notes. Here Gevinson’s voice has matured into something grave, graceful, hilarious—and highly philosophical, like Aurelius’ Meditations or Montaigne’s Essais washed in internet speak, pop references, and reflexive asides, which are often in parentheses “(then again, “WHAT’S CONSCIOUS, MAN?” —the tiny stoner living inside me who mocks my every semi-deep thought)”).
This is Gevinson on “‘authenticity,’ camouflage, that stuff Baudrillard wrote about our world being a simulation of reality and all that”:
The way people imitate feeling high or drunk or sexy, and how teenagers fall into that because we’re just grasping for how to act in those new situations. It doesn’t do any good for anyone—it’s just a lot of people pretending to be having a good time and not getting what they really want.
I think I’d always assumed I’d at least get to watch my funeral go down and have a few suspicions confirmed concerning who would write awkward “Happy Birthday! Miss you ” messages on my Facebook wall long after I’d passed. I thought I’d get to still see how this whole “world” thing turns out: Do we all explode? Do things start to suck less first? Does everyone get sick of technology and start to live like the Amish, inspired by that one episode of Arthur? DO PEOPLE STILL WATCH ARTHUR?
But a few experiences take me out of all the stupid, floaty thoughts you get alone in your room and it hits me, quite tardily, that death is really the end.
“These are universal concerns,” Gevinson explained to me during our longest sitdown, in the snack-stacked green room of the Brooklyn concert venue, the Bell House, where the Rookie Yearbook Two launch party was about to go off. “Like, so many common themes on Rookie are about dealing with change. I think that’s one of the hardest things about growing up: having to find your identity, how strange it is to feel attached to things and then not. These are human things that happen through your whole life. Bob Dylan stuff.” (Dylan, with his indifference to press and persona play, is one of Gevinson’s role models.)
Gevinson is careful to point out that she’s not ungrateful for the attention that has, for half a decade, spotlit her coming-of-age. “But sometimes,” she says, “I felt so condescended upon, like when an adult reporter treated me like they were Santa Claus and I was a kid on their lap at Macy’s. So it was helpful for me to be obsessed with someone like Bob Dylan.” Or Rei Kawakubo, founder of Japanese design house Comme des Garçons: “I loved Rei Kawakubo because she was in fashion but she was a little mean, kind of antisocial, maybe even snobby or elitist, but it was just because she saw the urgency of containing her world and the things that were important to her.”
Asked to list more of her role models, Gevinson started precipitously: “Courtney Love, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Joni Mitchell, Chris Ware, Fiona Apple—oh my God, Fiona Apple!—Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham, Rashida Jones, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Iris Apfel,” but then stopped herself, amending that if she continued, she would only forget to mention more. “It’s good to have role models for different parts of your life,” she notes, “Like, I was nervous about going to TIFF [the Toronto International Film Festival, which Gevinson attended in September to promote Enough Said] and Anaheed was like just do what Tilda Swinton does: she wears pajamas to interviews.”
Gevinson speaks like she writes like she collages: in cited quotations. Describing the Chicago suburb where she’s grown up, she compared parts of it to Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World (“dull in an aesthetically pleasing way”) and others to Stepford, the fictional Connecticut town in The Stepford Wives. She also made mention of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses and The Virgin Suicides. “So, it’s not like a depressing, uncultured suburb,” she concluded, “But it can be fun to pretend it is and have, like, a Bruce Springsteen experience.”
Rookie’s aesthetics are similarly multimedia. The magazine is nostalgically crafted. The logo looks handdrawn. Inside, the fashion is vintage: thrifted or retro-inspired (think contemporary designers like Meadham Kirchhoff, Rodarte, and Rachel Antonoff). Again, that’s Gevinson’s move. As Tracy Hurren, a designer at Drawn & Quarterly, the house that publishes the Rookie Yearbook anthology, explained, “Rookie is a team effort, but it stems from a singular, unique vision. From the tiniest collage detail to font selection, Tavi knows exactly what she wants.”
The team at Drawn & Quarterly refer to Gevinson as Tiny Genius (as in her initials, T.G.), and yes, she might be that very recently discovered unicorn: the female genius. Gevinson would probably recoil from such an assertion. Plagued with “impostor syndrome,” she preemptively apologizes for pretentiousness in conversation. Her tone is advanced but never precocious; it almost seems as if she’s curtailing her intellect with all her “likes” and Liz Lemon “blergs.”
“I’m very happy when I meet a Rookie reader who didn’t know who I was,” Gevinson will repeat, “readers who didn’t read my blog, who may not even know who I am now. Because then I think, oh good, this is a real thing in the real world that people understand, it has a life of its own, it’s not just this thing in my head, it’s not about me.” Still, to the ever-expanding band of young Rookies, as to the grown women readers who utter the common refrain, “Imagine what I would have been if Rookie had existed in my day,” Tavi Gevinson has become the kind of role model—“those with a sense of pride, honesty, and truth”—she always sought out for herself.
For more on Tavi, download our brand new digital issue for iPad.
Choire Sicha’s Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City is exactly as labeled: a reported non-fiction account of a single year, not long past, in New York City. Written in an efficient blend of fairy tale past tense and newspaper journalese, the book follows a cast of young men who sleep with and love other young men. Sicha details their hookups, their in-fighting, their job and their bar hopping. It’s all standard youth folly except for the history—once upon a very recent time in a “very large and very famous city,” the first chapter goes, a billionaire Mayor lived in a multi-million dollar apartment in the same building as hedge fund operators, celebrity news anchors, GE head honchos, and a “very famous and very beautiful pop star named Beyoncé.” Below that top tier lived the aspirational, and below that, “the poorer, the lonelier, and the hopelessly left behind.” (The human megaphone of Occupy echoes back through Sicha’s pages.)
Very Recent History is a book about love and money, and the story of money in New York circa 2009 is a story of debt. “All told, at the end of this year,” Sicha narrates of his lead protagonist, “John’s debt added up to about 15,000 dollars for college, 40,000 for professional school, and about 14,000 in credit card debt during school, almost 70,000 dollars all in.” At the rate he’s paying it off—we’re given the math—it would take John eighty-three months of non-delinquent full payments to get his debt down to $132.27. John’s debt infects everything he does. His hopelessness in the face of it leads to reckless behavior, denial, disbelief. Near the end of the book, a friend of John’s, accidentally happening across one of his loan bills, outrages: “The student loan thing is just kicking a can down the road; those people should all be put in jail, he thought. All the private lenders just managed to piggyback on a person—and you can’t declare bankruptcy?”
“Debtors are misled by the media into thinking that discharging student loans is impossible,” write Christopher Glazek, a Senior Editor at n+1, and Sean Monahan, a member of the brand forecasting collective K-HOLE, in their pamphlet Certainty of Hopelessness: A Primer on Discharging Student Debt. “While bankruptcy protocols are always complex, student debt is loaded with its own special brand of illegibility,” they explain. Discharging student debt on the basis of bankruptcy isn’t easy, but it can be done. In order to declare bankruptcy, student debtors must not only prove that they are currently unable to pay, they must also demonstrate that their future life prospects are characterized by a “certainty of hopelessness.” Glazek and Monahan use that artful phrase (“Lawyers can be poets too,” jokes Monahan) as the title for their pamphlet, which they describe as “a sort of provisional guidebook” to the twelve criteria for determining whether an individual is legally “hopeless.”
Like Very Recent History, Certainty of Hopelessness reads like dark satire or dystopia—how do you demonstrate “hopelessness”: elective amputation, adopting a special needs child, career suicide (uploading amateur pornography), joining the Franciscans in a vow of poverty—but the humor and horror arise from, as Glazek puts it, “the unexpected plausibility of implausible-sounding things.”
In this interview, Christopher Glazek and Sean Monahan expand on the American student debt situation and the propositions of Certainty of Hopelessness by patiently answering the outsider questions of this Canadian naif.
Coming to America from Canada, I was surprised by how chill some people are in the face of their student debt. In Quebec, we’ve been protesting a small hike on tuition that’s already a fraction of the cost of an education in America, but here people seemed resigned to high tuitions and loans. Why do you think that is?
Monahan: Student debt is a very widespread phenomenon. Most of my friends have some amount of debt and that normalizes the situation. The amounts of money we’re talking about are also really hard to visualize for a young person. These are long-term loan contracts being signed by people who haven’t entered the labor force. Most of the time, the borrowing begins before they’ve even entered college. What does one hundred thousand dollars mean to eighteen-year-olds living in their childhood bedrooms?
Glazek: Some people may seem chill with their debt, but I think for a lot of people, it weighs very heavily on them, and that’s part of the point of Certainty of Hopelessness. We want to shake up the shame discourse surrounding debt and to encourage people to be shameless. All debt has shame attached to it, but the emotional land-mines that surround student debt are particularly dangerous: since parents are often co-signers, that means your family could be on the hook for your failure; student debt is wrapped up with ideas of success, self-worth, and social mobility — “if you’d only studied harder, if you’d only gotten a better job,” and so on. Suicide is a big problem among student-debtors.
The count on the welcome page of your website — it looks like a doomsday clock. Is that the amount of student debt in America? How is it calculated?
M: That’s a computer program that estimates the rising student debt based on the latest counts from the federal government. Student debt doesn’t actually accrue in a linear way like the counter, but there is no resource that maintains up-to-date stats.
But we know it’s growing.
M: Student debt is the only form of consumer debt that’s grown throughout the Recession and there’s no sign that its growth will slow down. There’s not really any limit to how much money people will spend on going to college. Increasingly in the United States, if you don’t pursue a college education, you will be left out of the labor market.
G: You can think of America as a meritocracy, but merit in America is a commodity, and it’s incredibly expensive — it’s a pay-to-play meritocracy.
I was reading the Reddit commentary on this project and one of the commentators took the elective amputation suggestion very seriously, and then another rebutted: “It’s the best kind of satire — the kind that’s serious.” Could you talk about your use of satire?
G: The term that we’ve used to describe it is “pseudo-satire,” meaning that the humor arises from the unexpected plausibility of implausible-sounding things. A lot of what’s in the book are extreme maneuvers, and although we’re not necessarily suggesting people follow through with them, these are things that should genuinely cross your mind when confronted with an enormous debt you’ll never be able to repay. We say in the introduction that the manual’s utility is proportional to any given reader’s desperation. That’s a serious statement, but it’s also the engine of the satire.
Sure, and when you’re in a desperate situation, humor is a means of relief. I was just talking about this with my father. He was pissed at me for making outlandish, jokey anti-patriarchy tweets. He was offended by my “generalizations about his gender,” and I replied with, “when you lack power, you turn to humor.”
G: Right, it’s like living under the Stasi. This is Eastern Bloc humor.
M: I don’t think that most people understand the criteria used to figure out whether their debt can be discharged. It’s a very opaque legal problem that people don’t know how to approach. Humor makes it accessible.
Humor is also a good ice breaker. We’re taught not to talk about money — not to talk about how much you make, how much you come from, what kind of debt you’re in. Money is private.
G: Right, and what we want is for people to take a step back and recognize that this is not private — it’s a social phenomenon.
This might sound glib but it seems like student debt could be our generation’s Vietnam, in that it’s a bad situation that’s affecting a lot of young people, which could to be uniting, a rallying for change?
G: I like the analogy between draft-dodging and debt-dodging. We’re trying to get people to think about how debt-dodging could potentially be an honorable activity, or at the very least something to consider. Rich people are encouraged by pop culture and by the government to do everything in their power to figure out how to not pay as much: how to screw other people over and how to use litigation as a weapon to protect their assets. We just think poor people should have access to the same tools. People should be adversarial about how they approach their debt, not moralistic or ashamed.
To read the full pamphlet Certainty of Hopelessness: A Primer on Discharging Student Debt, click here.
Forever 69 is a bi-weekly, bi-curious column about fashion and sex.
Come October, rotating storefronts all over New York start selling the same plastic-wrapped sets of plastic wigs, plastic masks, and plastic negligees. These plastic cobweb fronted shops pop up suddenly, as if by magic. One rarely witnesses the retail transition (who knows what came before), but there’s no missing the final display—there are hands, dispensable as prop pistols, hired to flyer outside and ensure you don’t miss it. Sloppily costumed, in lay person’s shoes, these sidewalk employees are often dancing, sometimes without music.
“I finally figured out where those sexy Halloween costumes come from,” Brant mentions to Fiona, as she smiles into a sip of Tom Yum soup. “They’re repurposed sexshop clothes.”
Fiona looks up at Brant from her living room floor take-out picnic perch. He’s sitting tall in her ex-boyfriend’s old apartment’s least used armchair. I look up to Brant, she thinks, and then wonders, for a pause, at the notion that her idolatrous personality might be the product of her short genes and penchant for floor seating.
“No, no, no, really—” Brant mistakes Fiona’s high-eyed gaze for skepticism, “I always check the manufacturer. The last batch I looked at were by a company called… Foreplay.”
“You know what Dan Savage says about Halloween, right?” Fiona replies.
“Dan Savage. Savage Love. The sex columnist, you know!” Brant does, Fiona just hadn’t enunciated well before. She persists: “Dan Savage, you know, from Seattle. Oh my god, when I was in Seattle, I literally stalked the streets near The Stranger’s offices hoping to run into him. I would ask for a hug; that was the plan. He needs to know how important he is. But I never saw him. The bookstore in Seattle is really the best, though. Anyway, right, Dan Savage. Dan Savage calls the holiday Heteroween, or Straight Pride. It’s like the one day a year where breeder types are permissed to be publicly slutty. He says we should all embrace it. Spraaang Braaake. Now there’s a good costume idea.”
“That’s an interesting argument.”
“The most interesting part is that Halloween used to be the high holidays of queers. Because you could be out, like fey or in drag in public, but still invisible, because everyone was in costume. I was texting the French actor about all this and he replied—” Fiona mimics what’s meant to be a French Canadian accent but ends up intoning like German Super Mario, “O, yeez, Alloween, dee night ven girls dress like sluts and boys like trah-knees.”
“Have you ever noticed,” Brant offers, “that it’s the straightest dudes who dress in drag?”
“Yeah, it’s like bros wearing pink. They can do it because they’re so #nohomo.”
“Genau. Bros like dear Devon. Do you remember dear Devon?” Brant shakes his head. “He was that beautiful, broad, gym-friendly ginger I slept with in… 2010? A Wall Street type—well, not Wall Street because Montreal, but you get it. One year, Devon went,” Fiona’s words turn wheezy as she starts hiccuping giggles, “he went, he went, Devon went as Anne Hathaway! And he went all out. Like details. Like lipgloss. Like nail polish. Dude was so into it.”
“I love how it’s recycled sexshop clothing,” Brant’s back on the pop-up shop costumes, “Do you think people realize that? That what they’re buying in October other people buy year round for sex? Shit’s made in the same factory and they just print out different labels.”
“Speaking of recycling,” Fiona pulls out her iPhone. “Have I showed you this already?” Fiona thumbs through to photo #4,217 in her roll: a poor image snap of hot girl with brown Bow Peep curls in a green latex minidress with a universal recycling symbol on the front; a Halloween costume made by a brand called 100% Baby by Shirley. “I recycle boys,” the bodice of the dress boasts, “All the bad ones get thrown in the dump.”
“This is clearly designed for enviro cosplay,” Brant chimes.
“That’s a thing?”
“Everything is a thing; just depends how rough, weird, or boring your childhood was.”
“I’m picturing some kid from the 89-plus gen, San Francisco born to Long Now Foundation eco-freak parents. Look, there’s more,” Fiona slides back in her roll to photo #4,208. That picture shows two packaged costume sets, both are from a manufacturer called Secret Wishes (“Costumes for Playful Adults”), both include emerald mini dresses and thigh-highs; one comes with a mask, the other with an insignia collar. “That’s sexy Green Hornet on the right, and on the left, sexy Green Lantern.”
Fiona keeps shuffling—through sexy bees, sexy pandas, sexy pirates, sexy mafia, sexy inmates… #4,211: “Sexy Ninja Turtles! Can you believe it? A miniskirted Rafael?”
#4,212: “Sexy Willy Wonka.”
#4,213: “Sexy Cowardly Lioness.”
#4,214: “Sexy Ghostbuster.”
#4,215: “Sexy Beetlejuice!” Fiona squeals. “This isn’t Heteroween, it’s queer as fuck. I love, love, love it—this masculine drag performance for women that maintains the draggiest elements of femininity; heels and garters and make-up. These costumes are just hyper-femme-y versions of pop culture’s dude heroes. It’s so unoriginal, it’s original! Sexy Spider-man.”
“It’s masterful,” Brant says, “Corporate art. Picture the board meeting.”
“Wait for it…” Fiona waves her right arm like a magician and swipes the screen once more for, “the grand finale! Sexy Little Red Riding Hood slash Sexy Big Bad Wolf. The queerest of them all. A trans-dystopia. You get to be both predator and prey. The innocent little girl and the hairy aggressor. This costume cannibalized itself. Ha! What would Camille Paglia say?”
(If you live in rock and roll, as I do, you see the reality of sex, of male lust and women being aroused by male lust. It attracts women. It doesn’t repel them.)
K-HOLE is like the Bernadette Corporation of the twenty-teens—a young, New York-based collective working in direct response to the cultural climate of their time with a seriousness of mind outgoing enough for an after-party. Like BC, the self-described “trend forecasting group” of K-HOLE straddles the fields of art and commerce, but their interest in business is not just a pose. Most of K-HOLE’s five members—Greg Fong, Sean Monahan, Chris Sherron, Emily Segal, and Dena Yago—have held jobs in marketing. The PDF trend reports they create coyly employ the semiotics of corporate culture (coining synergistic terms like ProLASTination and FragMOREtation) in order to discuss Being in the world today, and are as relevant as philosophy, as they are applicable to branding.“This is not just a performance of business,” K-HOLE member Emily Segal repeated to me. In openly working between art and market, she explained, “K-HOLE hopes to demonstrate that neither is an invalidation of the other.”
K-HOLE are most visible in the art world. They are interested in art but their art context has more to do with the—trending now!—ongoing integration of the thinking creative class into the art world, which has made itself into a hospitable environment and market for experimental thought of all forms, from poetry to PDFs. (As our culture becomes increasingly visual, it makes sense that visual/art theory has become a more dominant mode of critical theory.) Though they have a home in the art world, K-HOLE is invested in culture at large. One of their slogans is “culture is all of our problem.”
On Saturday October 19th, K-HOLE presented their latest trend report, Youth Mode: A Report On Freedom, at the 89plus marathon event hosted by London’s Serpentine Gallery in London. The brief was made in collaboration with the São Paulo based research organization Box 1824 and addresses issues of generational branding as they were brought up by 89plus’s petri-dish exposition of the “digital natives” cohort. Youth Mode introduces the problem of Mass Indie culture—“where everyone is so special that no one is special”—and proposes a new aspirational model in #Normcore, “a way of being that prioritizes self-identification over self-differentiation.” Normcore is like the smiley face emoticon, which K-HOLE uses so affectively: inclusive, basic, and human; an invitation to engage.
Reading Youth Mode, which is available for download at khole.net, I was overwhelmed by its prescient declarations, such as, “Once upon a time people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today people are born individuals and have to find their communities.” And so I engaged.
The following conversation, with four of K-HOLE’s five members—Greg Fong, Sean Monahan, Emily Segal, and Dena Yago—was cobbled together from a few days of correspondence via Skype, Facebook messaging, and e-mail. It’s best read after the report.
The first chapter in this report is titled “The Death of Age.” There you posit that “demography is dead” and “generational linearity is gone.” What timeline are we talking about? Because the teenager, for instance, is a relatively new concept, dating from the 1950s.
Yago: Generational branding is a 20th century concept. What we’re seeing now is an opening up of the social limits that used to delineate age and generation, scripts like, “you stop being a teenager when you’re financially independent,” or “you enter into later life when you go onto your pension.”
Segal: The “death of age” is a response to the breakdown of those cultural scripts. People are no longer finishing college, then getting married, having kids, and buying refrigerators, Cadillacs, and homes. We noticed that, instead of acknowledging that there has been this script breakdown and that that’s hard, people are just pointing fingers and scapegoating different groups. We’re in a trans moment in culture right now and we need to actually acknowledge that there are these dated scripts that need to be rewritten or discarded.
The emergent modes we’re proposing, like Normcore, are about moving away from a 20th century version of adolescence that was all about being misunderstood: the binary where you had your real truth and then there was society or “mom and dad” who misunderstood you, where that misunderstanding was a trauma that you had to overcome by speaking your truth in a better way, by holding onto your authenticity. That’s the 20th century story of adolescence, that’s Rebel Without a Cause. That’s not an adaptable model. What we are seeing as an emergent model is one that’s willing to play with what’s real and what’s fake in any given situation.
Freedom is a big word in this report. Could you elaborate on K-HOLE’s definition of freedom? When I hear freedom in America, I hear Tea Party freedom, a freedom to make money.
Segal: I don’t think we have one definition of freedom because we’re good but we’re not that good. If we could really define freedom perfectly, we’d be famous philosophers. I see freedom, in this context, as being about a freedom to define your relationship with the world around you—which includes the people, industries, and economies around you—in an experimental way but within limits. Freedom is also an openness to the potentiality of the future.
Fong: I agree with Emily’s definition. Even money has a social aspect that requires negotiation with others. The freedom we’re talking about in Youth Mode accepts the sometimes or often sucky condition of sharing your existence with a couple billion people. It’s also hopefully fun.
Monahan: There’s a conversation happening in the United States where we have two different operative meanings of freedom. I think saying that Tea Party freedom is about the freedom to make money is a little reductive. It’s really about the freedom to exert power over another person. In a neoliberal capitalist society a lot of that discussion ends up intersecting with making money, but that’s not really the tradition we’re trying to channel. On the other hand there is an emancipatory understanding of freedom in the United States that goes back to Feminism, the Civil Rights Movement, the Abolitionists, etc, that doesn’t think of freedom as just a zero sum game of rights granted by the state. This is the vein of freedom that we’re tapping into. K-HOLE doesn’t believe in zero-sum politics.
The new mode of being you’re proposing in Normcore reminds me of the maturing of an individual mind. Normcore qualities like adaptability, empathy, and post-aspiration are things I’ve started to appreciate in myself as I’ve gotten older. The Mass Indie desire for differentiation you present as of our time was something I definitely exercised through my teens and early-twenties. My “cool parents” would laugh at me and say I’d “grow out of.” And I am. Would you agree that this arc from wanting to be special (Mass Indie) to wanting to be free (Normcore) is a natural shift that occurs in an individual’s lifetime? If so, do you see culture as maturing?
Yago: These are elements of this conversation that are obviously static through history. But I also think that we’re inarguably dealing with, largely because of the Internet, a complete paradigm shift in humans relationship to tools, information, and one another.
Segal: It may be that certain parts of this argument have to do with a certain type of growing up, but it’s also in response to real technological, economic, physical, and social realities that have really changed. Some of these are universal issues but they take on new inflections now.
Fong: Like Emily and Dena said, it’s tied to the conditions of the present as much as age. For a little while it seemed like leading a highly personalized online existence was essential to survival. But with a growing number of people who are just kind of famous, I think that it’s getting easier to recognize the drawbacks of Internet popularity and the often temporary and highly specialized nature of success.
Monahan: We’re talking about cultural paradigms as much as we’re talking about individual choices. It’s important to point out that we live in both a country and a world that is “older” (in terms of median age) than any before it. The causality here is fuzzy, but I think the chilling out of youth is in some way connected to growing up in an older world.
Normcore seems to promote, as a look, blankness, maybe even camouflage (fitting into any situation, thus the cargo shorts). Is this a reaction to our culture’s valuing of individual hyper-visibility? Modern technology (Twitter, Facebook, selfie culture) has enabled us to easily achieve hyper-visibility: to see ourselves outside of ourselves, to be like celebrities. But being so visible, at least for me (being retweeted x100 times, my face is sooo “liked”), hasn’t calmed any existential anxiety I might feel. One existential soother that modern technology has gifted upon me, though, are real, felt connections with other people. The friends I have made via writing, via the mobility of the net, are my best. Those connections are my life’s happinesses right now. Because, through them, I feel part of something.
Monahan: There’s an old Paul Krugman prediction from 1998 where he says that the Internet’s growth will slow down by 2005 because “most people have nothing to say to each other!” Obviously, he was totally wrong. I think what we’re discovering is that people have a lot to say to each other and also that people have a deep desire to develop novel ways of communicating with one another. Visibility in a lot of ways is just a very simplistic way of communicating your presence in the world. The shift toward a more neutral mode of communicating is less about not communicating and more about deploying nuance and subtlety in how you communicate.
Fong: As social media has become ubiquitous, we’ve learned a lot about how we represent and project ourselves online. The knowledge makes us anxious and it forces us to be strategic—stuff gets posted for likes, not necessarily to get the message within the content across. Obviously self-image has always been a more distant, maneuverable extension of the self, but the Internet gives us total freedom to disengage the two. At the end of the day, we’re still ourselves. The blankness of Normcore deemphasizes self-image to promote a more fluid sense of self. It allows you to experience more things, both on and offline.
Yago: I think one of the most important takeaways from Normcore, beyond adaptability, is empathy. The whole basis of our practice is about being able to address more than one community. We aim to be legible in art, market, and individual terms; that’s to form relationships. We are producing content that we want people to understand.
Spring 2012, I had less than no money to spend on clothes. When I can’t have, I obsess over wants. I make lists itemizing what I will buy—garments, usually, but also tattoos and hair dos, things I imagine will make my person complete. Having been through enough phases of prosperity and scarcity (thank you, New York), I now recognize these lists as a psychological twitch of the latter.
Define: “superficial scarcity”: an insatiable desire for needless consumables inspired by personal financial depression.
What I wanted most in Spring 2012 was this Acne t-shirt. It wasn’t particularly expensive, but it was beyond my budget. A white jersey tee, quarter sleeves, boat neck, boxy cut, with five super sans-serif letters across the bust: G-I-R-L-S. I listed it as “must have: GIRLS.”
Cruising through the current Queer History of Fashion exhibit at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a collection composed mostly of clothes made for women by men who have sex with men, I started thinking about lesbian style. The most basic and obvious gay dress of the 20th century involved adopting the codes of the opposite gender. Liberace gets gaudy. Gaultier sports skirts. Because high fashion is feminine, any man who participates outlandishly in the field adopts an invert status. Whereas, historically, it’s when women don’t participate in fashion, that they look queer. Traditional dykey style is pretty uniform because men’s dress is.
Post-Stonewall, post-DOMA, post-Gaga, though, gender bending is becoming more fluid. We respect that not all dudes who dig cock like mesh by default. Some lesbians love Lanvin, etc. Just as one’s biological sex does not equal one’s gender performance does not equal one’s orientation, fashion predilections don’t necessarily correlate with bedroom practice. Still, we code. We code every time we get dressed.
Moving through Queer at FIT moved me to decode my own dress. There might as well have been a mirror in there. What was I thinking when I slipped into these oversized black Acne shorts and Frankensteinian Birkendoc sandals this morning? When I rolled up the sleeves of my white V tee, slicked back my hair, put on eyeliner, jewelry, my pack of Marlboros purse?
Fashion is language, but it’s a faulted one; its signs aren’t universally legible. What I think I’m expressing may not be what you receive. Thus the recurring question: does Miley Cyrus know how gay her look is?
I can’t say how my style is read but I know what I’m going for. As I do in my bed, these days, I aim to be like my best gay boyfriends in my closet. They’re so pretty! Like young Leos and baby Ed Furlongs. My twinkspirations, in term, borrow elements from femme fashion (Andrew always jokes he looks like “a big lesbian”). They’re mixing in fey, I’m looking like Le Male. ~Fluid~ post-Millennials, we dress like what-ever.
Catching up with old friends after my move from Montreal to New York in March 2012, I’d often get asked, “Have you slept with a woman yet?” My desire for sometimes-ladies was no secret, but it was also no secret that I’d never tried for it in my hometown. My style, then, was what I’d call aspirationally lesbian. That’s a psychological term. I was earnestly trying to broadcast my interest through what I was wearing.
It’s easier to dress a part than play it. In some half-conscious way, I was convinced in Spring 2012 that if I wore the “must have” GIRLS shirt, Kristen Stewart lookalikes would start making out with me.
Just as when I’m broke, I want to buy, when I feel emotional and physical lacks, I’m prompted to consume, to fill the void inside. Sometimes that’s with food, sometimes that’s with party; film, books, clothes. Consuming is easy, that’s why we go there, but nothing we take in will ever fully satisfy. For my birthday this year (virginal Virgo!), I couldn’t afford to buy myself a gift, so I gave myself the dare of trying to bed this hot French actor; it was the best present that money couldn’t buy. I guess the lessons of this fabled Forever 69 are that actions speak louder than clothes and that the best things in life are free. Although that still doesn’t answer the most important question:
⚢Is Miley trying to sleep with me?⚢
Forever 69 is a bi-weekly, bi-curious column about fashion and sex. During her last encounter, Fiona bitched about the agony and ecstasy of fashion week.
Fashion Month was overall a total bore. Aside from some fun at Rick Owens, J.W. Anderson (this and this and this), and my fav NYC upstarts, I honestly can’t even remember what I saw. It was all the SAMO, SAMO, which is a term that rolls through my mind all too often these days. Nothing is the new black because everything is happening all and at the same time now — it’s always fashion week somewhere in the world; next season’s trends are curated on The Outnet; and, as we stylites are watching the runways, the rest of the world keeps on getting dressed and going about their lives (what is Nadia Tolokonnikova wearing right now?).
What’s most valuable in net-mediated culture is to be of the moment (what’s trending tomorrow). In terms of my personal aesthetics, that’s only lead me to further devalue the now. I’m wary of statement skirts and slamming Slimane because #SS14 is already passé and I just signed a check for “rent October 2013.” Culture, especially fashion, moves so fast that participating in the now feels like living in the past. In this Internet Standard Time (IST) zone, I find solace engaging with the stillness of distant datedness. In terms of fashion that means pre-net aesthetics.
Archivings is a tumblr of scanned fashion magazine images from the early-’90s through the early-oughts curated by Shahan Assadourian, a fashion communications student living in Toronto, ON. The designers featured are both common (Hermes, Martin Margiela, Raf Simons) and obscure (Hiroko Koshino, Number (N)ine, Calcium), many of them Japanese, all of them sharing the same brainy approach to form. Shahan says he’s drawn to the late nineties as a “time of peak creativity” in fashion.
Many of the designers Shahan samples are no longer producing, and before he started archiving them, weren’t documented online at all. “I think scanning them helps them live on in a way that is not nostalgic but rather stating that it happened, that this is history” Shahan explains. “Thanks to the internet, today’s fashion shows are so accessible to people. They may not even be interested in fashion but now they’re able to include that in their bank of knowledge. Pre-internet fashion was only exclusive to the people who were interested in fashion and bought collection magazines or who worked in the fashion industry and went to the shows themselves.” Archivings makes accessible the once-elite knowledge of fashion decades’ past and makes my temporally-sensitive tastes smile.
Lauren Devine is more than just a little ready to be a pop star. “That’s how the whole thing started!” the glamour gurl exclaims when I ask my most fawning question: If this song blows up, which it should, are you ready to be a star?
The song in question, Try Sexual, Devine’s fourth release, is a club pumping hit with deep thrust breakdowns and sexy sing-alongs. The track’s lusty lyrics (“Not afraid to try new things, and if you like it, you’re taking me home”) pervaded my hottest, messiest August, and so I approached Devine for an interview. A couple days later, she’s taking me home.
Late August 2013: Devine’s big Bedwick basement bedroom is empty save for one chair, a sound system, and lighting—a baseboard of soft-colored LED lights that shift tones like Turrell’s Guggenheim atrium. She’s just moved in. Immediately comfortable in the welcoming presence of this buoyant figure, I sprawl on the floor. Devine takes the chair.
“I’m totally ready,” she jumps on my opening question, “I’m sooo ready.” That’s how the whole thing started: two years ago, Devine’s good friend, David Toro, made an offhand comment that the fabulous Devine, then working in fashion was, “totally ready to be a pop star, or, at least, just a little ready. And then that became my first single, Just A Little Ready. I wasn’t even thinking about making music before then.”
A veritable pop hit, Just A Little Ready dropped in early 2012 with a video directed by artist/comic Casey Jane Ellison. The video—glamour shots abound—is an amateurish homage to the best of blond ambition past (Madge, Mariah, and “it always comes back to” Britney) twisted with maybe-irony and definitely-MDMA. “It’s chemicals deep down inside,” repeats one refrain and that’s how the track makes you feel: body high.
Devine followed Just A Little Ready up with This Is How We Do Dubai:
Like the dessert missed the rain
Well Devine is back
And I’m taking you all
To my favorite Emirate
Then came Luv U Far, a “club grunty (country-grunge)” ballad about modern mediated long-d relationships. Devine’s latest single, Try Sexual, may be her most ambitious yet. Sampling from Amber’s 1999 hit Sexual (li da di), Try Sexual posits a new orientation based not on identity so much as practice. The song, produced by burqa and featuring Adaron and Nightfeelings, is like an antithesis to RiRi’s We Found Love, while the video, directed Anthony Valdez, looks like a Blendr orgy of Britney’s Slave 4 U and Steve McQueen’s Shame but with #noregrets.
Because of the referential nature of both Devine’s songs and videos, some have read her project as parody. Others have written her up as a performance artist; Devine regularly collaborates with young art stars like Ryan Trecartin and the team at DIS. Devine isn’t crazy about either label. She would love to see her Top 40 inspired pop songs climb the charts. Live for the applause, work bitch, she can’t stop—Lauren Devine is triple-O sooo ready to be a star.
What does Try Sexual mean?
It’s all in the lyrics but I’d say the main vibe is being about the “why not?” life. This is something I’ve been really feeling lately. You know, when I was in middle school, if you were a freak, you’d be like “I’m bi!” Now there seems to be this endless plethora of ways to be sexual. Identity doesn’t matter as much. I feel like sexuality is becoming less politicized and so we’re getting back to the real essence of sex, which is fun and pleasure. Try Sexual about having a positive attitude.
And about acting on that attitude—try is a verb, bi is a statement.
Right. My favorite kind of bisexual, and they might not even call themselves bisexual, are people who are bi in a personal trainer vibe. Like, they’re really into working out and perfecting themselves and because they are becoming what they think is their ideal form of self, they get this extreme narcissism that bleeds into their sexuality and they become bisexual or “try sexual.”
I think I know what you mean. Seeing yourself as sexual object as well as a subject, you become super sexual.
You fetishize yourself. And if there are other people who are like that and they start paying attention—
It’s like two facing mirrors!
Yeah, that pumps your sexuality. I call it “narcissistic try sexuality.” I think this mode has a lot to do with our branding culture, our Instagramming culture. Everyone’s doing it!
That reminds me of all of the glamour shots in your video Luv U Far, which is a song ostensibly about a long distance relationship but really it’s about your relationship with your own image.
Exactly. I was definitely playing with that with Luv U Far, which is about a long-distance relationship that maybe you created all by yourself. Maybe it doesn’t even really exist? Maybe you’re grooming yourself for that imaginary perfect person? I was talking to my friend about Skype last week and I was like, “you know when you drag the box to be—
Right in the center of their forehead!
So it looks like you’re looking right at them.
You’re their third eye.
That is Luv U Far. I’m putting myself as their Skype bindee and I am totally letting them believe I’m engaging with them but I’m actually pumping myself up. I love all that weird stuff. I’m not mocking it. I’m recognizing it as something people do.
I love all your videos. They seem so essential to the music. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: if you make a really iconic music video, that song gets fixed to the imagery in the video. Like, I can’t hear …Baby One More Time without picturing schoolgirl Britney, and so the music becomes this visual form. Your work does this really well.
I think that’s why often people will talk about me in a performance artist context. I don’t see myself that way but I can see why people do. I work really conceptually, like I’ll work really genre specifically and include all those references in the video.
Your videos are totally pop referential. And there’s an authenticity to them. Like if someone just stumbled across Luv U Far, they might not be able to tell if it’s sincere or…
I know why people say that and it’s been kind of a point of contention for me. My goal with the whole project—with the music and the videos—is to go undetected, so if you heard it or saw it in a context where you would normally hear this kind of Top 40 pop music, you wouldn’t have those questions of “is this ironic? or who is this person?” I’m constantly striving to be undetectable.
Do you approach every song as a single? They’re all such hits.
Everything is supposed to be a hit, a song that captures a moment. I only think in terms of singles. Or like ringtones. If I could come up with a perfect 10 second clip, I wouldn’t even push it further than that. I would just release that.
When I get desperately sad in New York City, two images seesaw in my mind’s eye: Pipilotti Rist, dressed to match the sky, skipping along asphalt smashing car windows, and Amira Casar in Catherine Breillat’s Anatomy of Hell, slitting her wrists in a gay club bathroom, “because [she’s] a woman.”
When I get desperately sad in New York City, I almost certainly have alcohol in my blood. Drinking, when I’m even the least bit sad, turns me into a sincere teen goth: aching, masochistic.
If I’m desperately sad and drunk in New York City, it’s likely because I’ve attended an industry event. Somewhere with an open bar. Somewhere with a crowd whose combined wealth could send my whole “East Williamsburg” neighborhood through M.D.s at NYU. Somewhere I’m RSVP’d because I may end up publishing press that bolsters this wealth. On nights like these, I travel home alone, sensing the alcohol in my veins like a Venom Symbiote, and all I see is Rist and wrists and Rist and wrists and Rist and wrists.
#FashionWeak I tag it, and every season, I publish a whine. Spring 2013: the Young-Girl’s lament. Fall 2013: threatening firebombs with a chin pimpled like the surface of Mars. This Spring 2014, I tried to take it easy: only going to shows I knew I’d love, sticking to my sneakers, etc. Still, by Sunday, day five of NYFW, I was typically sick and traumatized agoraphobic. A post-party scratched cornea reignited an ongoing sinus infection, fever fell, and soon my wrists were whaling womanhood. I started skipping shows because I just… couldn’t.
The problem with fashion week is that it’s too much concentrated. Fashion should be treated like dessert: a luxurious extra, enjoyed in moderation, and only alongside proper nourishment. Fashion week(s) are too much—a month twice a year (Spring, Fall) plus interseasonal collections (Resort, Pre-Fall, Couture, Men’s) times the world over (in addition to New York, London, Milan, Paris, there are fashion weeks in Australia, Japan, Copenhagen, to name just a few).
This much fashion could be tolerable if it weren’t for fashion people, many of whom (N.B. not all) suffer from the same crisis as #FashionWeak: they know too much of fashion, not enough of anything else. Fashion may be the most vacuous cultural system, conversing only with itself, which was almost okay when the industry was a small bubble, but now that it’s pervaded every field, it needs to start addressing the world. There is absolutely no reason why people who work to dress bodies shouldn’t engage with issues that bodies face, like queer liberties, workers rights, etc. Specialization is for insects.
I know something is really wrong when I lose my libido—that’s the survival instinct prioritizing over the reproductive one. As insufferable as I may find it, I never lose my libido during FW. No, the mojo remains but it does change: my normally mild masochism goes into over-sex-drive. I crave slaps, gags, spanks, scratches, pulls. I ache angrily for submission because FW turns me weightlessly numb; if my body is bruised, I’ll know it’s there.
I trust my body, not more, but in tandem with my mind. That I fall ill every fashion week, I think, is psychosomatic. That I crave to hurt and be hurt the same way every time (Rist and wrists), I know, is telling. That I keep going back is even more so. I still love fashion, and within the strictures of these #Weaks, I’ve experienced exhilarating humility and uncanny beauty. That may be the out-of-body high of subspace, freedom in constraints.
What we all want is freedom, right? What pains me most about fashion week is this system that says it has to be the way it already is—it doesn’t. Fashion doesn’t have to be lead by money-hungry airheads. Fashion doesn’t have be shown on underage girls. Fashion doesn’t have to equal celebrity.
Fashion week has shifted from an industry necessity (for buyers) to a media spectacle. But as the seasonal buying model becomes defunct (which it is if there are fashion weeks year round, if RiRi is already wearing SS14 Alexander Wang, if you can preorder Topshop direct from the runway), fashion designers, buyers, and consumers may find they have the freedom to choose not to engage with this calendar. Or to participate on different terms. Whatever! All this seasonal whine is calling for is a little diversity—queer the system.
Forever 69 is a bi-weekly, bi-curious column about fashion and sex. Fiona’s last installment was on uniform fetishism.
Telfar Clemens’ collections are titled like conceptual slash fiction. Last spring, it was Formale;Life. Last fall: Quilted/Comfort. This season, Telfar is courting perhaps his widest audience yet with MAINSTREAM:FLUID, a simply practical collection of swim-inspired sportswear. Boys in halter tops: this is the new normal.
In addition to a streamlined runway show at The Standard on Sunday, Telfar has produced a “VIDEO LOOKBOOK cum music video” for SS14 and we are in2 it. Check—New York’s Telfar Clemens in collaboration with meta-brand Shanzhai Biennial in a video directed by Babak Radboy with music by Future Brown (Fatima Al Qadiri, J-Cush Teklife and Nguzunguzu).