This Generation Is The Definitive Roadmap For Your Future In Fashion
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A question asked starting in early grade school, far before we’re certain of who we are, can at times be daunting and difficult to answer. Even when you have an idea of a general direction to go in, how do you even begin with the process of getting there?
If you’re interested in the fashion industry, and if you’ve ever googled “How to become a (insert dream job here)”, This Generation is for you. The media company is a definitive roadmap on how to get where you want to go with advice from successful creatives and tools you need along the way. Milk sat down with 23-year-old Founder and Editor in Chief Tate VanderPoel Smith to hear more about the relaunch of her website, editorial best practices, and what’s she learned along the way.
What is This Generation?
We’re an editorial site that addresses how to get to where you want to go in the fashion industry.
We interview a wide range of individuals in an array of different positions across the industry. For instance, our features range from photographer Tyler Mitchell, to Talia Collis who’s the associate producer at Vogue, to Ashleigh Kane who’s the Arts Editor at Dazed, to Amanda Mescudi who’s in studio bookings at Milk. Our aim is to figure out what positions exist, how people get to them, and who those people are.
Where did the idea come from?
I came into this industry knowing zero people. I wasn’t interested in becoming a photographer, designer, stylist, or a model, but those were the careers that were predominantly featured in media outlets. Or you could read about people like Jimmy Moffat or Jefferson Hack, and yes you should read about them, but they started out in an entirely different landscape than we’re starting out in today.
I scoured the internet to find what other positions existed and what they entailed, but I couldn’t find a whole lot. I ended up using a weird combination of LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Instagram, and old job descriptions, just to figure out what was out there.
I also did a lot of cold emailing asking for info sessions / coffee dates. Then I thought about doing the same sort of thing, but publishing those conversations so other people could have access to them as well.
You’ve relaunched the website since its beginnings in 2015. What’s new?
This Generation 1.0 was a passion project that came after school, work, and a little bit of sleep! 2.0 is a company, with a structured team and approach.
2.0 is also one of our first big steps in testing a new approach to media. The majority of our readers come to This Generation to find answers to what their career path could look like. When you’re conducting research of any kind, it’s less about what’s new or being featured, and more about the ease of finding the information that you need in the moment. One of our answers to that was Skims.
What is Skims?
This feature quite literally skims the interviews for you. Skims compiles our long-form interviews, so you can find exactly what you want to read, in under 10 seconds, and in an average two minute read.
How did your background influence This Generation?
I interned / freelanced a ton while I was in school. I was only trying to figure out where I wanted to go and would be a bit frustrated when nothing or nowhere really clicked for me. Little did I know, that that was only preparing myself for the site. Having spent a bit of time in so many different sectors of the industry ended up being invaluable for knowing who to interview and what questions to ask.
Seeing how all of those different companies were structured, did you take anything with you?
Yes! I was at The New York Times for a bit. They had incredibly high standards for their employees, but everyone I worked with was respectful, open, and excited about what they were doing. I would like to build a company like that.
What’s your favorite part of working on the site?
The people, for sure. And constantly having the opportunity to explore new ideas.
What have you learned since building the site?
More than I could ever realize. But I think a big thing is being confident with myself, what I’m doing, and all of the unknown that comes with it. We live in a culture where everyone puts their best self on display, but it’s only a tiny glimpse into a much bigger and messier reality.
For the site, we interview a lot of people who look like they have their shit together. They do, but through our interviews I’ve realized that they’ve had to figure it out, they’re still figuring it out, and they always will be. I’ve learned that everyone’s path is entirely different so it’s not beneficial to compare yourself. I still do, but I think I’ve been doing that less and less.
I’ve interviewed people all over the world, from different backgrounds, different experiences, and bringing different ideas to the table. It re-affirms that there are so many ways to look at things and to do things. But I think the two big things that every interviewee on the site has in common is that they work insanely hard and that they couldn’t have ever fully predicted where they are today. I got the first one down, so maybe the biggest lesson has been to just breathe and put a bit more faith into the universe.
What’s next for This Generation?
I want to support myself and my team to do this full time. I’d like to be in a place where we can expand to film, music, and art. I’m also a huge fan of the work that Red Hook Labs is doing; if we got to a point where we could invest back into the creative community, that would be the biggest dream.
Is there anything that you’d like to add?
A big thank you to my team, and by “team” I also mean everyone who has touched the site in some sort of way, none of this would be possible without you.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from Gen Z.