How Teen Vogue’s Editor Rose to The Top

Teen Vogue

“Nothing good happens overnight,” Lindsay Peoples Wagner tells us

Lindsay Peoples Wagner was working as a fashion assistant in Teen Vogue’s closet less than a decade ago. But now, she’s the magazine’s editor-in-chief! Lindsay nabbed the coveted position — before the age of 30, by the way — after working as a fashion market editor at New York Magazine’s The Cut. Back home at Teen Vogue, Lindsay is focused on promoting body inclusivity and diversity, and working to empower young women around the world. During her “Fashion Month” travels (from New York to London to Milan to Paris!), we chatted with Lindsay about her amazing career — and her best career advice.

Katie Couric: Lindsay, where in the world are you right now? We know you’ve been traveling non-stop this month for fashion weeks!

Lindsay Peoples Wagner: It’s my last day in Milan and then I’ll be on my way to Paris for the last week of shows! I’m looking forward to Paris, the shows always feel joyous and make me look forward to creating.

We’re really impressed by your work at Teen Vogue and your commitment to inclusivity, diversity and body positivity. Have you been seeing any of that on the runways this season — or are some brands still missing the mark?

Thank you so much! Honestly, I have been writing about inclusivity for so long, it’s still odd to me that it’s not an urgent issue for everyone in the industry. This season I’ve seen a lot of strides, but definitely not as much size inclusivity as there should be.

Are there any high fashion trends you’re seeing that we could expect to see trickle down to more affordable brands?

I feel designers have been mixing high and low, and I’d like to see more affordable brands incorporating that trend. Everything doesn’t have to be luxury and over the top — and with so many conversations around sustainability in fashion, we should be encouraging people to re-wear things, styling trends and pieces to be re-worn in different ways. That’s just the responsible thing to do.

It’s really incredible that you became an editor-in-chief before the age of 30 — and that you actually started your career in the Teen Vogue fashion closet less than a decade before that! Can you tell us about your career path, and if you had any idea you’d one day be helming the magazine back when you were working as an assistant?

I’m originally from Wisconsin and I don’t come from a family that has anything to do with fashion, so I’ve had to hustle my own way. I started out in Teen Vogue’s fashion closet organizing shoes and steaming clothes, and over the years was fortunate to work with some amazing bosses who mentored me. I truly had no idea I would ever be at the helm of a publication because it just didn’t seem like something that was in the cards for me.

What is the biggest challenge of leading such a huge publication? And what is the best piece of advice you would give to women hoping to step into leadership positions?

I think the most challenging thing for me is that there are so many issues I deeply care about! I’m not an editor who’s in this just about clothing — I’m always thinking through the lens of inclusivity and culture and the world, and trying to figure out ways to weave fashion into those things.

My advice would be to work harder than you think is required, and be patient. Nothing good happens overnight.

In 2018, you produced a really phenomenal project for The Cut, “Everywhere and Nowhere: What it’s Really Like to be Black and Work in Fashion,” in which you spoke with black models, activists, stylists, designers, editors, and more about, among other things, the racism and bias that are pervasive in the industry. Has there been any change since this piece came out?

There have been so many conversations that have started as a result of that piece — I think that’s been the best feeling. The fact that people are still talking about it and that it gives hope to young people of color is all I could ever ask for.

It’s almost your one year anniversary of becoming the EIC of Teen Vogue. What projects have you been most proud to lead over the past year?

So many things! But I’d say most recently it was being able to feature Coco Gauff and Greta Thunberg on special covers.

We know that the Teen Vogue Summit is coming up soon. What are you most excited about for that event?

Yes! The third-annual Teen Vogue Summit will be back in Los Angeles November 1–3! This year’s lineup is amazing, and I’m so excited to be hosting so many brilliant minds from a bunch of different industries. It’s going to have a combination of a festival and conference vibe, with a schedule full of live masterclasses, keynotes, panels and performances. There really is something for everyone, and I can’t wait to bring our readers together for the weekend!

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