Every time I meet a teenager — whether it's at the movies; lining up for some wickedly delicious fro-yo at Llao Llao; or accidentally finding myself at a marathon screening of Scream Queens (okay, maybe not so accidental) — my favourite question to ask is always: "Do you feel the pressure to be successful at a younger age because of social media?"
Usual response? For guys: Blank stare followed by a furrowed brow and a nonchalant shrug. For girls: Pursed lips and a dismissive, "Meh." But, if the stars are aligned and the wind is blowing just right from Serangoon Gardens, sometimes, and I mean only sometimes, I'll get a truthful answer: "Yeah", "I kinda do actually", "For sure."
Because, have you noticed, that just about everyone is doing something at someplace with someone and all by seventeen?
Case in point: The fashion world's current obsession with pubescent teens. Yes, fashion has always celebrated youth, but some of these kids aren't even legal yet. It's a baffling (some would say frightening) trend of designers using teenagers to peddle goods to their customers — the majority of which, in order to afford the hefty price tags, are fully-fledged working adults above 30. At least.
And what about the editors that slap these toothy teens on covers? Driven by the unquestionable power of social media, especially if they're a celebrity progeny, to sell magazines. In short: Eliciting their 'cool factor' for amplification. Usher once said, "Never underestimate the power of cool." But isn't this getting a little ridiculous? These kids have only just left the parking lot with their L plates. As for me, I concur with George Bernard Shaw: The youth is wasted on the young.
Need evidence as to why 17 is all the rage? Here are five said teens making waves in fashion right now — keep watch:
5. BROOKLYN BECKHAM
Date of birth: 4 March 1999 (turning 17 this year)
Fashion chops: Landed a cover of indie men's fashion mag Man About Town and, more recently, gracing Miss Vogue UK.
What he should do next: Follow younger brother, Romeo Beckham, and star in a Burberry campaign. That, or convince momma Posh Spice to design a menswear line with him as the ambassador. What is this? An emo brand for skater boys? She said see ya later boy...
4. YASMIN WIJNALDUM
Date of birth: So fresh that Google came up empty. But definitely 17.
Fashion chops: The face of Prada's latest SS16 campaign (alongside Natalia Vodianova and Sasha Pivovarova) and has walked a bevvy of shows including Valentino, Kenzo, Loewe during Paris fashion week last season, as well as Chanel's Pre-fall 2016 show in Rome.
What she should do next: Fulfill her dream — land a fashion cover.
3. LUCKY BLUE SMITH
Date of birth: 4 June 1998 (17 years and 7 months old)
Fashion chops: Having walked every imaginable menswear show last year from Balmain to Bottega Veneta — and landing campaigns with the likes of Moncler, Philipp Plein and Calvin Klein — Smith is not just lucky, he's a breakout male model star. Also attracts hordes of screaming female fans like tweens to a Bieber.
What he should do next: Parlay all that attention into a film career a la Cara Delevingne. Guess what? He has. Watch out for him in the upcoming flick, Love Everlasting. (P.S. I hope he doesn't have to smile. High five to all those who get my drift.)
2. LILY-ROSE DEPP
Date of birth: 27 May 1999 (turning 17 this year)
Fashion cred: Mates wtih Karl Lagerfeld — hence walking for the Chanel Haute Couture fall 2015 show and starring in the luxury maison's FW15 eyewear campaign. Most recently, this daughter of American actor Johnny Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis, is the cover girl for the upcoming February issue of Love Magazine.
What she should do next: Broadway. C'mon, singing and acting must be in her genes.
1. JADEN SMITH
Date of birth: 8 July 1998 (17 years and 6 months old)
Fashion cred: Tapped for Louis Vuitton's SS16 womenswear campaign. Yes, womenswear. His co-stars include female models Jean Campbell, Rianne van Rompaey and Sarah Brannon. But truth be told, you couldn't tell he was wearing womenswear. Such is his swag.
What he should do next: Not go anywhere near a sequel, prequel or TV series for After Earth. It was that bad.
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