Why Newsletters Are the Teen Magazines of 2016

It was only a decade ago when teen magazines were considered sacred, both for their target readership of 12-21-year-olds and adults alike. But thanks to the internet and the instant gratification of digital media, teen print bibles like Sassy, YM and Cosmogirl have fallen by the wayside (RIP). While some teen-centric websites are still alive and well, they’re often dictated by advertisers and traffic pressure—which results in clicky celebrity fodder, as opposed to the meaningful features that defined mags of the ‘90s.

Fortunately, newsletters have the potential to fill this void by bringing the best parts about old-school teen magazines into the digital age.’

Despite what critics assume, teens today most certainly use email—they’re required to have an email address to apply for colleges, as well as to register for social media outlets like Snapchat and Instagram. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Foundation, 90 percent of teens are on the internet all day long. And an impressive 75 percent of them own a smartphone, which makes the mobile-friendly aspect of a newsletter all the more appealing. Receiving an email newsletter—filled with all the kind of information you actually care about—can carry that same excitement as getting your favourite magazine in the mail.

Tumblr and Pinterest have picked up on where US magazines like Jane and Sassy left off, combining compelling graphics with a DIY mentality that these publications did so well (there’s a reason why we put teen mag collages on our walls, after all). But newsletters deliver the storytelling aspect of magazines straight to cell phones everyday, which gives it a sense of intimacy… even when it’s sent to thousands of inboxes at a time.

This feeling of conversation, one that’s removed from the internet chatter, is exactly what inspired Clover. My co-founder Casey Lewis (a former editor at Teen Vogue) and I take cues from old-school teen mags, as well as DIY zines, in order to start an internet conversation. The best part is, anyone’s invited to join. Just like the coolest kinds of Tumblr colleges, newsletters bring fashion back down to earth and into real life. Whether it’s an interview with a young designer, an essay on the blue jeans that changed our life, or a piece on what it’s like to be a model, Clover intends to provide a three-dimensional perspective on fashion—because style is so much more than what celebrities are wearing, or what’s trending on the runway.

‘By combining the inclusive, DIY ethos of social media along with the storytelling strategy of the most beloved magazines, newsletters just might have what it takes to fill the current void in teenage media’

And unlike magazines, which become dusty in the back of your closet, your favourite e-letter will remain shiny and new in your inbox for years to come.

Liza Darwin is a New York-based writer and co-creator of teen newsletter Clover. She also covers the intersection of fashion, culture, and technology for eBay.com.

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