Remember seeing an issue of Teen Vogue on a store’s shelf covered with our favorite Disney Channel stars and heartthrobs like Zac Efron? Well, things have changed since then. With a new generation of tech-savvy, socially-conscious millennials who have an attention span shorter than a tweet, Teen Vogue’s new leaders have restored life back to the publication with spirited and informative content.
At the helm of the digital facet of Teen Vogue is Phillip Picardi, the digital editorial director, and fashion’s latest Prince Charming.
I almost didn’t go out for the job of Digital Editorial Director at Teen Vogue, but Elaine [Welteroth] brought me to lunch and told me I’d be crazy if I didn’t consider,” said Picardi.
Before landing the gig, Picardi interned at Teen Vogue under former beauty director, Eva Chen while studying at NYU. It was there that he was bullied.
“My peers, apparently, decided to start a thread about me on a website known as CollegeACB, and people said some pretty messed up stuff about my eyebrows.”
The bullies even alleged that he had Botox and a facelift, but they did not know that the thread would inspire one of Picardi’s ‘it moments’ in beauty writing with “Confessions of an Over-Tweezed Teen.” But don’t worry, “[Chen] hooked me up with an appointment with Anastasia Soare later that month,” said Picardi.
Now, at the age of 25 (with no quarter-life crisis, may I add), he’s living a dream and enjoying his work. “The best part of my job is that no two days are really the same,” Picardi states. “The only real constants I have are a 7 a.m. workout every morning (either CrossFit or cardio) and an iced coffee.” However, Picardi doesn’t let his young age define his character or success.
“Aaliyah once said that “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number,” and I heed those words!”
Picardi also shared a few words of optimism for people seeking to make it big in the fashion industry.
Anthony O’Baner: How did you start believing in your own work and personal style?
Phillip Picardi: To be honest, I’ve only recently started being more confident in my personal style. I used to be concerned with appearing “chic” — whatever that means — and now I just wear what I want, which usually means a lot of color and a lot of fun. I like to give people a reason to smile when they see me, so I try and keep that in mind when I’m buying things.
AO: With our generation being so invested in social media, how important is an online presence for the youth wanting to be in the fashion industry?
PP: It’s not just important, it’s mandatory. The whole fashion industry from top to bottom, luxury to mass has started to find ways to deliver elevated and inspiring content on platforms ranging from Snapchat to YouTube. We have to speak our consumers’ language, and it’s no secret that we are a much more digitally communicative society than we were in decades past.
AO: Who has had the biggest impact on your work ethic? What did they teach you?
PP: My dad, for sure. He dropped me off at a McDonald’s — completely as a surprise — when I was a teenager. When I told him I wanted to quit, he said I could absolutely quit, but I’d have to find another job. I’ve held a part-time or full-time job ever since I was 14 years old. Working retail and in food services teaches you so much about people and making others feel appreciated and heard — those are valuable skills that can take years to develop just from office work. There is magic to be found in the smaller tasks, and I’m indebted to my father for teaching me that the hard way.
AO: What do you do in order to find inspiration if you ever have a creative block?
PP: I work out — a lot. I find that focusing on the body and what it’s capable of for a simple 45 or 60 minutes a day gives your brain a much-needed diversion, gets endorphins pumping, and makes you feel more confident and capable.
AO: What are some of the key values necessary to be in the industry?
PP: Our Vogue team loves the word optimism! I think being optimistic is so important — in a world that is full of so many fast changes, you must be solutions-oriented, creative, and most importantly, nimble.Optimism is the fuel that makes those qualities thrive.
You must have integrity. I love working for Teen Vogue because we really stand for something — we’ve been able to champion diversity, female empowerment, and social justice in a significant way, and that means your work has so much extra value. Find a place of employment that shares your point of view, and you’ll be a much more fulfilled professional.
Be kind. I think people who exist outside of the industry think it’s chic or fashionable to be rude or cold. That’s not really what it’s like on the inside — we support each other when we can, and we rally together when we must.
A little bit of kindness goes such a long way — and it will be noticed by people you don’t even think are watching!
AO: What’s some advice you could give to the next generation of fashion leaders?
PP: Be good to each other. More and more as I’ve climbed the ladder, I’ve been most rewarded by seeing other people achieve success, and also create a common good that we all believe in. Make your friends now, and help each other out as you grow — we have so much positive work to be done to improve our industry, and your generation is going to be the one that moves the mountains. You just can’t move a mountain alone.
Written by Anthony O’Baner
Photography by Richard Gerst