Amy Astley is one of those editors whose interview simply proves she was born to be an Editor-in-Chief. Since the launch of Teen Vogue in 2003, Astley has stayed on the cusp of culture, attracting possibly one of the most engaged audiences in the world of publishing. Teen Vogue achieves both aspiration and accessibility, the killer combo we feel makes a truly great publication. With platinum blond hair, signature bangs and some killer confidence, Astley may just be the perfect person to wrap up New York Fashion Week here on The New Potato. The iconic EIC let us in on what good content is, the bright future of publishing and (on the same day a video came out with 73 questions for Anna Wintour), the many reasons why Wintour is her quintessential mentor…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Well, I would be eating with my family at home in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island. All the best food there is local and really excellent. I would start with poached farm eggs on brown toast. I would make this myself, as I have a very good poaching technique learned from my mother and grandmother. I prefer Orient farm eggs from Joey Wysocki, a local boy who takes care of his own coop. The yolk of his eggs is just dark yellow perfection. I like my egg with pepper and a generous couple of pinches of coarse salt from Fauchon. Several cups of lapsang souchong tea—no coffee for me, ever. Plus, The New York Times. A perfect morning!
Lunch would be lobster rolls with tons of friends on our deck, looking out onto the Long Island Sound. I get the salad at Southold Fish Market, and everyone loves it. I like it on a lightly toasted hot dog bun brushed with garlic butter, and on a romaine leaf. Iced tea, no sugar, and a side of local corn on the cob – North Fork corn is close to heaven! Local yellow watermelon is perfect for dessert, followed by an afternoon swim in the sound.
Dinner is fresh local fish, grilled, with whatever veggies Latham’s Farmstand has. This farm stand, overlooking the bay in Orient, is so picture-perfect that Martha Stewart has turned up there for a photo shoot. Maybe our friend the chef Ned Baldwin, a fellow Orienter, would cook this up for us—his house or ours. For dessert, an ice cream cone from Flavors in Greenport or a Mister Softee. I’m not picky.
What is your personal definition of good content?
How has the Teen Vogue vision changed since 2003? Has it at all?
Our vision and mission are the same: we are still girl-centric. It’s all about the world of our reader. It is still about finding, developing, and celebrating her own style and gifts. It’s always about how fashion and beauty are a source of joy and creativity in life. It’s still about finding and promoting all the most exciting young talent—whether models, photographers, stylists, actors, musicians, or the readers themselves.
What are three things you’ve had to change in order to adapt?
Personally, I have had to transform into a digital editor, not just a print editor. The website and social media businesses are very large and dynamic at Teen Vogue. The growth is just explosive. It is so, so exciting. And so gratifying that our audience wants to interact with it all day, every day, on tons of platforms, not just once a month with a print product. So we have had to really prioritize our digital business and staff, and that is another change. I would say a third change is just being superfluid, and super flexible. I have worked in the industry a long time, and for two decades things never changed that much—but in the past few years, the pace of change is just breathtaking. You just have to be as nimble as you can. We want to respond to events, but really I want to anticipate as much as we can, too, so that we are leading, not just following. Print is about perfection, and digital is about speed, so you have to learn to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at the same time!
What’s particularly special about editing a magazine aimed at a younger demographic?
There is no more engaged reader in the world. They comment on everything in print, web, and social. They are so involved. They are superfans. I feel that our magazine is having a positive effect on our reader, that it is broadening her horizons. So many kids communicate this message to us. The kids give us a lot, at least as much as we give them. Maybe even more!
If you could make a prediction on where publishing is headed, what would it be?
Publishing has a bright future. You just need to be monitoring your business minutely now and building it out in new directions. Each brand, if it is fundamentally strong, has a whole set of opportunities and strengths to capitalize on. For Teen Vogue that means really exploding our global influence and audience through digital—that’s where our audience is, so it is no-brainer. We just launched back-to-school products with Staples in July, and the products are so cute, useful, and affordable. The line is selling beyond expectation, and I am really proud of the collaboration. Also, we do really well with our experiential events, like Teen Vogue Fashion University, a learning weekend for young people interested in careers in fashion. For us, it is building a whole world with the print product as the hub, and all the other businesses are spokes.
How do you personally practice beauty from the inside out?
I eat as clean and healthy as I can. Not too much red meat, not too much sugar or alcohol. The best food is the least processed and preferably prepared at home. So I try!
What are your morning and evening beauty routines?
I exercise pretty much every day. I spin at Flywheel in TriBeCa early in the morning, before the 8 a.m. school drop. I love ballet barre class at Physique 57—I have been doing it for six years. I wash my face with facial oil and use Rodin oils for moisturizing. Sunscreen every single day, rain or shine.
Do you have a beauty mainstay you haven’t changed since your teenage years?
Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?
The Caribbean or Mexico with my family is bliss. This past spring break we went to Bequia. My ideal holiday involves nothing more than a carry-on bag: sunscreen, swimsuit, sandals, caftan, and a book. Anything involving a lot of wardrobe planning feels like work to me. Honestly, I cannot go anywhere—not even out my front door—without my iPhone.
Any advice for teenage girls getting up, looking in the mirror, and getting dressed in the morning?
Be kind to yourself. You are a totally unique creature and beautiful in every respect. It is hard to treat others kindly if you treat yourself harshly. Also, don’t compare yourself to actresses, models, or reality stars. Their looks are their livelihood. You have so much more to offer than just your appearance—develop those talents!