Teen Vogue celebrated its 20-year anniversary at the publication’s annual Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles and iOne Digital was in the building to commemorate the magazine as it leaves its teenage years.
The most fashionable creatives, changemakers, journalists, and speakers gathered for an action-packed day filled with keynotes, live Q&As, musical performances, brand activations, as well as appearances from celebrities like Coco Jones, Aoki Lee Simmons, Kimora Lee Simmons, Elaine Welteroth, Renee Rapp, Philip Picardi, Dylan Mulvaney, and Ashley Tisdale.
The all-day event’s theme was ‘Dream Your Future’ with various panels that were set to encourage attendees to “dream bigger.” The Summit began with a warm welcome by Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief, and new mother, Versha Sharma.
In an exclusive interview with HelloBeautiful and BOSSIP’s Social Media Manager, Versha chatted about the importance of listening to young people.
“Our mission is always news for young people, by young people. We always have our audience top of mind like what are they talking about? What are they interested in? And then we try to reflect that as much as possible. I don’t know what it is about older people, but young people are constantly underestimated or constantly written off, but we have so much to say. We have so much that we can actually teach each other and teach other people,” she said. “It’s always been young people at the forefront of any activist movement pushing for change and pushing for progress. So I trust young people. I believe in young people and that’s why we should listen.”
Versha joined Teen Vogue as editor-in-chief in 2021 and two years later she’s celebrating a significant milestone 20 years of the magazine’s legacy.
“It feels incredible and I think the reason that we’ve been able to do that is because we have grown and evolved with our audience over the years. Again, like reflecting what their interests and passions are, has allowed us to stay relevant and also to understand we all contain multitudes, right? Like you can care about fashion and beauty and foreign policy. They’re not mutually exclusive by any means, and so it’s really amazing actually having a job and a publication that covers all of these topics.”
During the Summit, Versha moderated live speaking sessions on the colorful stage including an engaging conversation with the gorgeous mother-daughter duo, Kimora and Aoki Lee Simmons.
Aoki is stepping into her own and stepping on runways just like her supermodel mother. Before graduating from Harvard (at the age of 20 shall we add?) – the budding supermodel was already booked on the runways of high-profile designers like Sergio Hudson and Pyer Moss. How she juggled full-time academia and modeling? We’ll never know. But, when we asked about one of her most recent achievements, being one of the youngest Black women to graduate from Harvard, Aoki answered in the most humble way.
“It’s kind of a lot of pressure to where I’m like, I’m not even sure that’s true. Oh, my God. It’s just like I want to make sure I’m honoring all the people who helped me get here when I got to Harvard. I joined the Association of Harvard Black women immediately,” she told HelloBeautiful and BOSSIP. “There are so many women who have kind of made their way even from Radcliffe, a separate campus to Harvard. It all came together, my generation, for me and I’m really lucky in that sense. But there are so many women it should have been and could have been.”
Aoki also discussed the importance of using her platform on social media to advocate for others. “I don’t ever want it to become cool or a trend to not care about the world. But, it’s not cool tapping out. That’s what people want you to do. As a feminist, you have to remain engaged with the world and I want to make that as so many women are,” she said. “ If I’m giving any kind of influence, it has to be that.”
On the Summit stage, Kimora Lee Simmons, discussed her reservations about her youngest daughter entering the modeling world as someone who deeply understands the industry.
“I think the biggest thing I wanted to teach her, which is probably what I would tell all of you and it’s very similar, whether you’re modeling or not, or going to get whatever job or not. It’s like in life you face rejection. And you face people not thinking that you look cool enough or that you’re tall enough, or that you’re thin enough, or that you’re light enough or dark enough, or your hair does this or that. I grew up in this, that kind of time, and I actually was 13 in Paris, but I was in Saint Louis locally, modeling at like 10 or 11 years old.”
“Now I’m so proud,” she continued.”I’m proud the whole time, but you don’t want your best friend or your kid or your sister or your brother to face those kinds of things, but you just want to be supportive.”
Aoki spoke about how her business-savvy mom has taught her to stand up for herself as she steps into her own lane as a career woman.
“She’s always like, if you’re going to do this kind of entertainment, if you’re gonna be putting your face on it, you have to be ready [to] talk for yourself, advocate for yourself, because you can’t just be a model, give your face,. start being out there and then not know who you are or if you’re comfortable with it,” she said. “You have to really decide and protect yourself like you would in actual business or a job, or the obligations of your job. So definitely treat yourself with seriousness and respect and mind your career, mind your business.”
That word from Kimora is definitely one we’ll be taking with us! We’ll be minding our careers AND sour business!
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