9 Fashion Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of – TeenVogue.com

When it comes to working in the fashion industry, sometimes it may seem like there are only a few paths you can take: editor, designer, stylist, or model to name a few. But, while those roles are certainly some of the most visible ones in the industry, they’re by no means the only career choices that exist within the vast world of fashion. Ahead, find 9 unique, under-the-radar jobs that currently exist within fashion that incorporate analytics, law, and even psychology.


1. Search Trends Analyst:
Considering how much shopping is done online, it’s not surprising there are people in charge of analyzing how all of us search for the things we’re buying. That’s exactly what Andrea Sandke does as a Data Editor and Search Trends Analyst for the massive online shopping community, Polyvore. Andrea analyzes the site’s search query logs to discover new and interesting patterns in how people shop and create outfits. “Andrea makes sense of the billions of data points that reveal how our community expresses their style and turns it into actionable insights,” a Polyvore spokesperson tells Teen Vogue. “Her analysis helps the company predict upcoming trends to create an engaging shopping and discovery experience for our global community.”


2. Fashion Consultant:
Nearly all businesses benefit from consultants who can inform and advise them, and that includes fashion businesses. Lara Backmender is a stylist with Honey Artists, but also a consultant for labels like Kate Spade and Cole Haan. “As a freelance Fashion Consultant, I help inspire, support and guide a designer or design team for their overall branding and/or specific collections,” Lara tells Teen Vogue. Lara has a design background, but says for anyone who wants to consult fashion brands, it’s important to have a strong understanding of fashion history and the ability to conduct extensive research. “Also, having confidence in what you believe creatively for an idea or direction is key,” she said. “[And] I think that someone who is easily inspired and keeps up to date with current trends is an ideal candidate. Often, as a fashion consultant, you will be the point person for this and it is good to stay abreast of what’s happening in the moment.”


3. Skype Stylist:
In today’s digital age, why limit styling to in-person relationships? Brenna Lyden, the CEO of Third & Loom, started a Skype styling business through her fashion blog, Chic Street Style. She styles clients who are based in Australia, Canada, Greece, the U.K., and the U.S. using the computer program. “I created my entire styling business on Skype…allowing me to style people from all over the world,” Brenna tells Teen Vogue. “The job entails everything that normal styling does, just in an online, multi-media platform that allows busy people from all over the world to be styled when it’s easy and timely for them,” she says. She meets with her clients through video calls, talks them through questionnaires, sends and receives wardrobe and outfit images via the Cloud, and creates look books in PowerPoint.

4. Fashion Programmer:
A fashion programmer plays an integral role in making sure major fashion events happen, and go smoothly. They act as a liaison between fashion designers and industry partners to develop everything from runway shows, to brand partnerships and major events. As the Director of Fashion Programing for Pier59 Studios, the largest photo studio in the world, Christina Neault helped secure Pier59 as an official New York Fashion Week venue and host to major runway shows. As a fashion programmer, Christina is responsible for everything from researching and bringing in designers, to booking shows, and making sure the lights, staging, and sounds meet her client’s expectations.


5. Product Safety & Compliance Specialist:
“There is a world of legalities when it comes to clothing, ranging from the safety of kids clothing to assuring that a design doesn’t violate copyrights,” Mari Corella, an e-commerce director with experience working with retailers like Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue and Avon, tells Teen Vogue. “Most fashion houses have a safety and compliance team, or outsource it through agency. Members of this team work closely with designers and product development to advise them on how to make safe, quality, and legal products.” People in these roles may test garments for durability, analyze the results, and maintain the proper documentation; as well as research specific designs to ensure they don’t infringe on any existing copyrights.


6. Fashion Lawyer:
Fabio Leonardi, an attorney with international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman tells Teen Vogue that fashion lawyers are actually entertainment attorneys who focus specifically on fashion law, and act as legal counsel to talent agencies, designers, models, manufacturers, and fashion corporations. “While fashion lawyers have to wade through complicated issues involving employment, contracts, intellectual property, trademarks, and patents to make their cases, they are also incredibly creative because of the full spectrum of legal issues that fashion companies face, such as customs and product safety regulations, manufacturing ethics, and models’ rights,” he says. “Working closely with fashion brands and talent agencies, fashion lawyers help shape fashion campaigns, design and trademark brands, recruit talent and raise a brand’s recognition on a worldwide scale.”


7. Fashion Psychologist:
Fashion Psychology, or “styling from the inside out,” is actually a very new field, being pioneered by psychologist and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Dawnn Karen. Dawnn, who founded the Fashion Psychology Institute, defines the field as “the study and treatment of color, beauty, style, image and shape and its affect on human behavior, while addressing cultural sensitivities and cultural norms.” Essentially, fashion psychologists work with individuals, groups, and companies to define and advise on style choices based on factors like common societal perceptions, individual self-esteem, and personal histories and goals.


8. Trend Scout:
While designers and creative directors are responsible for much of the innovation within individual brands, several companies look to trend scouts to observe what’s happening in the industry and help determine next steps. “These forward-thinking fashion delegates are sent around the world…to study street style and attend fashion shows [and] festivals,” Rachael Bozsik, CEO and Founder of The Brand Girls, tells Teen Vogue. “The scouts then put together informative presentations including data and images of their findings and report back to their companies. Their presentations include key components of what the companies’ next collections should include. While some brands have in-house trend scouts, others work with firms, like Fashion Snoops, who specialize in the field.


9. 3D Fashion Engineering:
“3D printing is…making a big impact on the fashion industry right now, so many engineers and programmers are collaborating with designers to innovate in that space,” Kiri Picone of all-girls tech camp, Alexa Café tells Teen Vogue. David Tal, the founder and president of consulting agency Quantumrun, agrees. “The role of the 3D Fashion Engineer will become commonplace in many fashion houses over the next four to seven years,” he tells Teen Vogue. “This role involves taking the designer’s paper designs, translating them into a 3D CAD file, then printing the finished design using a3D printer. The latest printer models already allow fashion designers to create dresses and jewelry that were previously impossible to create.”


To help kickstart your career in fashion, sign up for our exclusive online course with Parsons.



Related: Garance Doré Reveals What She Wishes She Knew When She Was 18

Who is stealing the mannequins from Belleville’s clothing stores … – Toronto Star

She said she is out close to 0 for the mannequins, as well as a swimsuit and three dresses they were wearing.

“It’s frustrating, of course,” she said. “It’s making me a little bit angry… I don’t know what to think. It’s mind-boggling.”

She said has replaced glass with Plexiglas, which thwarted a recent break-in attempt, although “they scratched the hell out of the Plexiglas trying.”

She finds herself looking at people a little differently now when they peer into her boutique.

“When there’s people walking by and they look at the mannequins, I just notice that more,” ODell said.

She said she’s now hanging clothing from ropes in her shop rather than buying more mannequins.

“You become creative in displaying your items,” ODell said. “I’m not about to replace the mannequins.”

Whoever hit Odell’s store didn’t take all the mannequins – they left behind “the cheaper ones,” she said.

Natasha Baylis, who runs Mrs. B’s Bath, Body and Gifts, has also been hit. She lost a mannequin wearing a dress on May 13, when the thief or thieves didn’t bother taking cash, a laptop or an iPad.

That break-in cost her about 5 for the window, mannequin and dress.

“They left one of the mannequin’s arms and half of her stand,” Baylis said. “It just fell as they were taking off with her.”

She noted that some people think it’s a prank while others think it’s a fetish.

“It’s very bizarre,” Baylis said. “It’s kind of creepy.”

She can’t help but wonder why certain downtown stores have been targeted and others left alone.

“There’s multiple stores downtown and they all have mannequins. Some of them are lingerie stores, and none of them have been broken into.”

She is the only merchant who has lost a mannequin of a child.

“I’ve got four children, three of which are girls,” Baylis said. “I find it extremely creepy and weird.”

What particularly bothers her is that it was her two-year-old daughter who first noticed the shattered window, with hanging shards of glass.

She shudders to think of what might have happened, if her daughter had been cut.

“They’re putting children in danger over a mannequin,” Baylis said.

Who is stealing the mannequins from Belleville’s clothing stores … – Toronto Star

She said she is out close to 0 for the mannequins, as well as a swimsuit and three dresses they were wearing.

“It’s frustrating, of course,” she said. “It’s making me a little bit angry… I don’t know what to think. It’s mind-boggling.”

She said has replaced glass with Plexiglas, which thwarted a recent break-in attempt, although “they scratched the hell out of the Plexiglas trying.”

She finds herself looking at people a little differently now when they peer into her boutique.

“When there’s people walking by and they look at the mannequins, I just notice that more,” ODell said.

She said she’s now hanging clothing from ropes in her shop rather than buying more mannequins.

“You become creative in displaying your items,” ODell said. “I’m not about to replace the mannequins.”

Whoever hit Odell’s store didn’t take all the mannequins – they left behind “the cheaper ones,” she said.

Natasha Baylis, who runs Mrs. B’s Bath, Body and Gifts, has also been hit. She lost a mannequin wearing a dress on May 13, when the thief or thieves didn’t bother taking cash, a laptop or an iPad.

That break-in cost her about 5 for the window, mannequin and dress.

“They left one of the mannequin’s arms and half of her stand,” Baylis said. “It just fell as they were taking off with her.”

She noted that some people think it’s a prank while others think it’s a fetish.

“It’s very bizarre,” Baylis said. “It’s kind of creepy.”

She can’t help but wonder why certain downtown stores have been targeted and others left alone.

“There’s multiple stores downtown and they all have mannequins. Some of them are lingerie stores, and none of them have been broken into.”

She is the only merchant who has lost a mannequin of a child.

“I’ve got four children, three of which are girls,” Baylis said. “I find it extremely creepy and weird.”

What particularly bothers her is that it was her two-year-old daughter who first noticed the shattered window, with hanging shards of glass.

She shudders to think of what might have happened, if her daughter had been cut.

“They’re putting children in danger over a mannequin,” Baylis said.

Who is stealing the mannequins from Belleville’s clothing stores … – Toronto Star

She said she is out close to 0 for the mannequins, as well as a swimsuit and three dresses they were wearing.

“It’s frustrating, of course,” she said. “It’s making me a little bit angry… I don’t know what to think. It’s mind-boggling.”

She said has replaced glass with Plexiglas, which thwarted a recent break-in attempt, although “they scratched the hell out of the Plexiglas trying.”

She finds herself looking at people a little differently now when they peer into her boutique.

“When there’s people walking by and they look at the mannequins, I just notice that more,” ODell said.

She said she’s now hanging clothing from ropes in her shop rather than buying more mannequins.

“You become creative in displaying your items,” ODell said. “I’m not about to replace the mannequins.”

Whoever hit Odell’s store didn’t take all the mannequins – they left behind “the cheaper ones,” she said.

Natasha Baylis, who runs Mrs. B’s Bath, Body and Gifts, has also been hit. She lost a mannequin wearing a dress on May 13, when the thief or thieves didn’t bother taking cash, a laptop or an iPad.

That break-in cost her about 5 for the window, mannequin and dress.

“They left one of the mannequin’s arms and half of her stand,” Baylis said. “It just fell as they were taking off with her.”

She noted that some people think it’s a prank while others think it’s a fetish.

“It’s very bizarre,” Baylis said. “It’s kind of creepy.”

She can’t help but wonder why certain downtown stores have been targeted and others left alone.

“There’s multiple stores downtown and they all have mannequins. Some of them are lingerie stores, and none of them have been broken into.”

She is the only merchant who has lost a mannequin of a child.

“I’ve got four children, three of which are girls,” Baylis said. “I find it extremely creepy and weird.”

What particularly bothers her is that it was her two-year-old daughter who first noticed the shattered window, with hanging shards of glass.

She shudders to think of what might have happened, if her daughter had been cut.

“They’re putting children in danger over a mannequin,” Baylis said.

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds – Financial Post

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds

|
More from The Canadian Press

The Fraser Institute calculates that visible and hidden taxes would equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015.

VANCOUVER — The Fraser Institute calculates that the average Canadian family paid ,154 in taxes of all sort last year, including “hidden” business taxes that are passed along in the price of goods and services purchased.

The study’s authors conclude that visible and hidden taxes would have been equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015, estimated at ,593.

By comparison, the study estimates the average Canadian family spent ,293 on housing, food and clothing last year — about 37.6 per cent of the family’s total cash income.

The Vancouver-based think-tank estimates that the average bill for income taxes collected by governments was ,616 in 2015.

The second-biggest category was payroll and health taxes, at ,160, followed by sales taxes at ,973 and property taxes at ,832.

The other categories include taxes on profits, liquor or tobacco, fuel, natural resources and import duties — totalling ,573.

The Fraser Institute uses its own “Canadian consumer tax index” to track the tax bill paid by a family with “average income.”

“The objective is not to trace the tax experience of a particular family, but rather to plot the experience of a family that was average in each year,” the 11-page report says.

“The ‘consumer’ in question is the taxpaying family, which can be thought of as consuming government services.”

 

Topics: Economy, The Fraser Institute

Who is stealing the mannequins from Belleville’s clothing stores … – Toronto Star

She said she is out close to 0 for the mannequins, as well as a swimsuit and three dresses they were wearing.

“It’s frustrating, of course,” she said. “It’s making me a little bit angry… I don’t know what to think. It’s mind-boggling.”

She said has replaced glass with Plexiglas, which thwarted a recent break-in attempt, although “they scratched the hell out of the Plexiglas trying.”

She finds herself looking at people a little differently now when they peer into her boutique.

“When there’s people walking by and they look at the mannequins, I just notice that more,” ODell said.

She said she’s now hanging clothing from ropes in her shop rather than buying more mannequins.

“You become creative in displaying your items,” ODell said. “I’m not about to replace the mannequins.”

Whoever hit Odell’s store didn’t take all the mannequins – they left behind “the cheaper ones,” she said.

Natasha Baylis, who runs Mrs. B’s Bath, Body and Gifts, has also been hit. She lost a mannequin wearing a dress on May 13, when the thief or thieves didn’t bother taking cash, a laptop or an iPad.

That break-in cost her about 5 for the window, mannequin and dress.

“They left one of the mannequin’s arms and half of her stand,” Baylis said. “It just fell as they were taking off with her.”

She noted that some people think it’s a prank while others think it’s a fetish.

“It’s very bizarre,” Baylis said. “It’s kind of creepy.”

She can’t help but wonder why certain downtown stores have been targeted and others left alone.

“There’s multiple stores downtown and they all have mannequins. Some of them are lingerie stores, and none of them have been broken into.”

She is the only merchant who has lost a mannequin of a child.

“I’ve got four children, three of which are girls,” Baylis said. “I find it extremely creepy and weird.”

What particularly bothers her is that it was her two-year-old daughter who first noticed the shattered window, with hanging shards of glass.

She shudders to think of what might have happened, if her daughter had been cut.

“They’re putting children in danger over a mannequin,” Baylis said.

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds – Financial Post

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds

|
More from The Canadian Press

The Fraser Institute calculates that visible and hidden taxes would equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015.

VANCOUVER — The Fraser Institute calculates that the average Canadian family paid ,154 in taxes of all sort last year, including “hidden” business taxes that are passed along in the price of goods and services purchased.

The study’s authors conclude that visible and hidden taxes would have been equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015, estimated at ,593.

By comparison, the study estimates the average Canadian family spent ,293 on housing, food and clothing last year — about 37.6 per cent of the family’s total cash income.

The Vancouver-based think-tank estimates that the average bill for income taxes collected by governments was ,616 in 2015.

The second-biggest category was payroll and health taxes, at ,160, followed by sales taxes at ,973 and property taxes at ,832.

The other categories include taxes on profits, liquor or tobacco, fuel, natural resources and import duties — totalling ,573.

The Fraser Institute uses its own “Canadian consumer tax index” to track the tax bill paid by a family with “average income.”

“The objective is not to trace the tax experience of a particular family, but rather to plot the experience of a family that was average in each year,” the 11-page report says.

“The ‘consumer’ in question is the taxpaying family, which can be thought of as consuming government services.”

 

Topics: Economy, The Fraser Institute

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds – Financial Post

Canadians now spend more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined, study finds

|
More from The Canadian Press

The Fraser Institute calculates that visible and hidden taxes would equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015.

VANCOUVER — The Fraser Institute calculates that the average Canadian family paid ,154 in taxes of all sort last year, including “hidden” business taxes that are passed along in the price of goods and services purchased.

The study’s authors conclude that visible and hidden taxes would have been equal to 42.4 per cent of the cash income for an average Canadian family in 2015, estimated at ,593.

By comparison, the study estimates the average Canadian family spent ,293 on housing, food and clothing last year — about 37.6 per cent of the family’s total cash income.

The Vancouver-based think-tank estimates that the average bill for income taxes collected by governments was ,616 in 2015.

The second-biggest category was payroll and health taxes, at ,160, followed by sales taxes at ,973 and property taxes at ,832.

The other categories include taxes on profits, liquor or tobacco, fuel, natural resources and import duties — totalling ,573.

The Fraser Institute uses its own “Canadian consumer tax index” to track the tax bill paid by a family with “average income.”

“The objective is not to trace the tax experience of a particular family, but rather to plot the experience of a family that was average in each year,” the 11-page report says.

“The ‘consumer’ in question is the taxpaying family, which can be thought of as consuming government services.”

 

Topics: Economy, The Fraser Institute

Who is stealing the mannequins from Belleville’s clothing stores … – Toronto Star

She said she is out close to 0 for the mannequins, as well as a swimsuit and three dresses they were wearing.

“It’s frustrating, of course,” she said. “It’s making me a little bit angry… I don’t know what to think. It’s mind-boggling.”

She said has replaced glass with Plexiglas, which thwarted a recent break-in attempt, although “they scratched the hell out of the Plexiglas trying.”

She finds herself looking at people a little differently now when they peer into her boutique.

“When there’s people walking by and they look at the mannequins, I just notice that more,” ODell said.

She said she’s now hanging clothing from ropes in her shop rather than buying more mannequins.

“You become creative in displaying your items,” ODell said. “I’m not about to replace the mannequins.”

Whoever hit Odell’s store didn’t take all the mannequins – they left behind “the cheaper ones,” she said.

Natasha Baylis, who runs Mrs. B’s Bath, Body and Gifts, has also been hit. She lost a mannequin wearing a dress on May 13, when the thief or thieves didn’t bother taking cash, a laptop or an iPad.

That break-in cost her about 5 for the window, mannequin and dress.

“They left one of the mannequin’s arms and half of her stand,” Baylis said. “It just fell as they were taking off with her.”

She noted that some people think it’s a prank while others think it’s a fetish.

“It’s very bizarre,” Baylis said. “It’s kind of creepy.”

She can’t help but wonder why certain downtown stores have been targeted and others left alone.

“There’s multiple stores downtown and they all have mannequins. Some of them are lingerie stores, and none of them have been broken into.”

She is the only merchant who has lost a mannequin of a child.

“I’ve got four children, three of which are girls,” Baylis said. “I find it extremely creepy and weird.”

What particularly bothers her is that it was her two-year-old daughter who first noticed the shattered window, with hanging shards of glass.

She shudders to think of what might have happened, if her daughter had been cut.

“They’re putting children in danger over a mannequin,” Baylis said.

Dark Matter(s): Meet One Half of the Trans Performance Duo College Kids Love – Observer

Alok Vaid-Menon.

Alok Vaid-Menon.

When it comes to Alok Vaid-Menon, performance is not reserved for the stage. “Performance is everything all the time,†the 25-year-old recently told the Observer, while lounging on a mod red chair at the Public Theater on Lafayette Street.

Vaid-Menon—towering what feels like a foot above me—appears colossal but also flustered.

“I underestimated how hot it was and how much time it would take to get here in heels,†they—Vaid-Menon uses the pronoun “they†in defiance of the gender binary—tell me with a hesitant laugh after we’ve settled in a few minutes later, and the sweat has dried from their forehead. I glance down to spot a pair of chunky, raspberry-colored, leather, lace-up platform boots peeking out from beneath the table. Their outfit is electric—pastel-striped shorts, opaque pink lipstick and a perhaps ironic “I hate fashion†tote.

Vaid-Menon is best known as a constituent of the trans, South Asian spoken word and performance art duo DarkMatter, a collaboration with Stanford University classmate Janani Balasubramanian. Together, the two have performed their poems at places like La MaMa Experimental Theater, the Brooklyn Museum, Nuyorican Poets Café and the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. They also recently appeared at Lincoln Center’s La Casita festival, the Queer International Arts Festival and Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, with spoken word poetry sets that are equal parts politics and comedy but are emotional enough to bring you to tears. Instead of a set repertoire, the duo presents new poems each time. Gender and race are often at the forefront; for instance, in one poem called “White Fetish,†DarkMatter mocks the way people of color are often fetishized or exoticized (“I want to wake up next to the smell…of NPR membershipâ€). In another, called “Trans/Generation,†Vaid-Menon talks about what it was like to come out to their family. “In my family, coming out is a smile smudged on a family photograph,†Vaid-Menon said.

DarkMatter also gets into the nitty-gritty of lighter topics, like online dating, in their performances. When the duo’s onstage, it often feels as though they’re talking directly to their audience rather than at them.

Until now, impassioned recitals of social justice-minded poems have grounded DarkMatter’s usual routine, if it could even be called that. Their spoken word poems are not traditional slam poetry, instead adopting aspects of performance art without being straight up conceptual. The duo rejects the “rules†of slam and instead has created their own form, which often includes singing, chanting, dance and acting.

Now, DarkMatter is pushing past the work that’s already put them on the map. To do so, they’re hoping to play even more with the element of sound—particularly through voice—and to adopt aspects of burlesque and drag in an attempt to be able to reach their full potential as performance artists.

DarkMatter has amassed an impressive following, especially among college students, a demographic that is particularly attuned to the identity issues their work centers on. Vaid-Menon attributes some visibility to social media: DarkMatter boasts upwards of 36,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 18,000 on Twitter. They have fans from every walk of life.

“My mom’s friend in Texas left me a message like two years ago where she [told me], ‘Your poetry was the first time in my life I could articulate what happened in my life as an immigrant,’ †Vaid-Menon told me, noting that it came as a surprise that this friend happened to be a straight older woman. “What it got me thinking is the power of art is that it can actually take two people who have never met any time anywhere in the world and give them a really fundamentally profound connection with one another.â€

You’re in a collaboration with your bacteria, with your mom, with the environment, with your clothing.

Before attending Stanford, Vaid-Menon, the child of Indian-American parents, grew up in College Station, Texas—a place they retroactively appreciate. “What growing up in Texas allowed me to do was be friends with people who were fundamentally different than I was,†Vaid-Menon explained. “The place forced [me] to recognize the urgency of the moment.†They noted their city-born friends from places like L.A. or New York—the latter is now Vaid-Menon’s place of residence—often hadn’t come to understand the need for social activism in the same way.

Vaid-Menon moved to New York after college to pursue a fellowship at the Audre Lorde Project—a center for “gender variant†people of color—where they continue to work today as a grassroots fundraising and communications coordinator.

In a 2013 TEDx talk where Vaid-Menon addressed Middlebury College students, they explained that their work behind the scenes is not glamorous. “My goal is to make sure that we have money, which is so not fun but so necessary,†they emphasized. “I started to realize—holy shit!—[There’s so much work behind]…public activism.†While Vaid-Menon noticed many people were interested in signing up for public demonstrations, few were interested in the nitty-gritty behind the scenes, like designing and printing flyers. “It’s a thankless job, but it’s just as important.â€

Landing in such a diverse city as New York was difficult for a person who was already trying to figure out how all their different cultural identities could be synthesized. After all, Vaid-Menon grew up in a small town in Texas, attended a university in California and is the child of South Asian parents who met in Canada. Realizing this stressful endeavor was futile, Vaid-Menon gave up soul searching and instead decided that it’s ultimately impossible to adhere to a singular sense of self.

And Vaid-Menon braves the unknown in many aspects of their life, even with regard to their art. “In a lot of my creative work, I don’t know what’s going on,†they said. “And that’s my answer. I don’t know…you don’t actually have to always know who you are, what you’re doing—that you’re in a constant struggle for negotiation of who you are.â€

For Vaid-Menon, performance is the vehicle for negotiating who they are. “What performance art makes literal is that every interaction is already always performative,†they told me. “The ways that we dress, the ways that we talk, the ways that we think…I feel like the performance art component of what I do is just what I do. It’s walking outside and having people look at me and be like, ‘Yeah, interesting, wow.’ It’s just kind of fun.â€

While these responses from passersby can sometimes be harmless, Vaid-Menon’s Instagram posts often directly address more difficult instances, sometimes in poem form, sometimes not.

Beside one photo in which they are wearing a long skirt with a gold trim on the bottom and bubblegum-blue lipstick, they wrote, “To the four trans women who pointed and laughed at me on W19th street saying ‘what the fuck do you think you are doing?’ i wonder: how does it feel like to be on the other side of the joke for once? is that what we are fighting for, to be on the other side of the joke? would you believe me if i told you that this morning i looked at the mirror and asked myself the same question: ‘what are you doing?’ â€

Alok V.

Alok Vaid-Menon.

A few days after we spoke at the Public Theater, a more hopeful message appeared when Vaid-Menon posted to Instagram a photo I was asked to take outside the theater. While most Instagrammers might be expected to include few innocent hashtags or maybe an emoji, Vaid-Menon drafted a long caption, titled “GENDER EUPHORIA.†At the end of the caption are the words, “I want so badly for people to give themselves permission to try, transgress, transcend. I want so badly to be able to walk down the street without having the joy punished out of me. I want so badly to share this with you. This (un)becoming.â€

This unbecoming is an ideology that seems to appear in many facets of Vaid-Menon’s life. For instance, they believe adulthood is a sham. Just like when they were 13 years old, they continued to write in the dark and listen to angsty songs by Conor Oberst.

The same logic applies the binary between work and play. “The separation between your ‘professional life’ and your ‘personal’ life doesn’t exist,†Vaid-Menon explains, adding that their collaboration with Balasubramanian was no more a collaboration than our conversation.

“You’re in a collaboration too,†Vaid-Menon told me. “You’re in a collaboration with your bacteria, with your mom, with the environment, with your clothing. Everything is relational.â€

Rather than inventing individual pieces dictated by time and place, performance has become more like a lifestyle for Vaid-Menon, who strives to live as an artist all the time. “It’s not like you’re an artist only when you’re writing a poem or…when you’re on the stage.â€

According to the poet, transfeminine people are often expected to distance themselves from drag, but Vaid-Menon is diving right into aspects of burlesque and drag in their work. One time even interjecting midspeech, “Oh my god—it’s so fun!â€

They’re also playing with elements of voice, incorporating the loop pedal as a sound effect. “That’s been really a delight,†Vaid-Menon remarked in the same way I’d imagine someone would after tasting expensive caviar. They jumped at the opportunity to share the news that they’re taking singing lessons—an endeavor Vaid-Menon claims has blown their mind, given their relationship with their own voice has always been shaky. “I was deeply insecure about my voice because when I was trying to pass as a [cisgender] straight man, my voice was always the first thing that betrayed me,†explaining that even hearing their voice on the answering machine was very difficult.

DarkMatter doesn’t have any extravagant plans in the immediate future, in part because they’ve made a habit of traveling, as the road is now the place Vaid-Menon feels most at home. “I really really enjoy…getting on a flight and landing in some place that I don’t even know.†But DarkMatter will be back, making the rounds at various colleges and universities across the country later this year.

The reason DarkMatter is so intent on traveling is highly political. This year has been difficult, according to Vaid-Menon—the trans community recently mourned the 18th pronounced murder of a trans woman of color this year. “We keep on asking, What do we do, what do we do?” Vaid-Menon said, explaining that art is often the manifestation of activism, and of grief. “It’s like the newsfeedification of violence,†they said. “We’re just kind of like, ‘Oh, another murder.’ ”

At the end of the day, Vaid-Menon’s ultimate goal is validation of others across the world. “I want people to be able to come to my shows and be able to feel nourished for parts of themselves that are often scorned, stigmatized, dismissed. I want to create spaces where people can go from crying to laughing to crying again. And I think that that’s a deeply political process.â€