Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Is there anything Eva Chen can't do? The answer, as we are constantly finding out, is no. The Lucky EIC just wrapped a two-and-a-half hour long (!) AMA session on Reddit and the results are pretty spectacular. Chen has probably doled out more career and fashion industry advice in her first year at Lucky then most industry vets do in a lifetime, but that didn't stop her from answering question after question on the magazine industry, from what it felt like to get the Lucky gig as an Asian-American to how to build confidence as a budding fashion writer. She also gave her thoughts on balancing work and marriage, how to avoid work burnout, the secret to how she manages her inbox while the rest of us drown, and what she thought of all that Rihanna brouhaha.
1. The story behind that jade bangle she always wears:
My parents gave that to me when I was 20 and I haven't taken it off since because 1) I love my parents and it makes me think of them every time I see them and 2) because I physically can't take it off because I guess my hands have gotten bigger (or something) and it doesn't fit over my hand anymore. Ah well, good thing I love it.
2. How lucky she feels on a scale of 1–10 (how witty you are, Reddit commenter):
Depends on the day. Today? 11 because I am having the best time on this AMA! On Mondays at 8:45 AM when I'm running late? -7.
3. If she could trade lives with anyone, it would be her dog:
I would trade lives with my dog because honestly he has the best life. Napping all day and pampered with love? Yes, please.
4. Which fashion friends she loves running into at events:
I always look forward to seeing my husband when I go home. But outside of that, I love seeing Leandra Medine, Karlie Kloss, Liu Wen, Tamu McPherson, and Wendy Nguyen.
5. How she balances work with her marriage:
Tom and I met in college when I was studying abroad at Oxford University. He is my greatest supporter and generally the best thing since sliced scone (trying to stay on-theme since he's English). He is as busy—actually probably more so—so the support is 50/50 between both of us!
6. How she handles constant PR pitches:
Create responses to common pitches in your "signatures" and use them liberally. That is my now-not-secret secret.
7. Her first luxury item that she ever bought:
[...] And the first luxury item I ever bought for myself was a Gucci (it was the 2000) bucket hat. I actually ended up losing that hat when I was studying abroad in England and one of the signs that my husband was a keeper is that he literally retraced my steps to find the hat for me (and found it). He will probably be embarrassed that I told that story, but there you go.
8. On how to be a successful EIC:
I think it takes an ability to listen, manage efficiently, and a great team. The last part is the most important. You are only as strong as your team and if you have a team you trust, you are able to work 10000% better. And I think having an open mind and curiosity are important too!
9. Her favorite beauty product:
Eyelash curler. My lashes are straighter than a ruler.
10. How she built confidence as a writer:
I never was, like, "Oh, I should give up" but there have definitely been moments where I've been like "Oh my gosh, I am only three steps above a third grader in terms of coherency." I think what kept me going is just knowing that it would work out and knowing that the more I write, the better I'd get. That's the light at the end of the tunnel—remember that always.
11. On the relationship between bloggers and print magazines:
Well, I probably have a different attitude towards bloggers than many (but not all) other magazine editors. I think that bloggers are new voices in writing and style and photography—and how could that ever be a bad thing? The people who are not so keen on bloggers might not be happy that they're sitting front row (in front of them) at shows. Or that they stop to take street style pictures. Whatever, they are bringing fashion/beauty to a whole new audience and the more in the conversation, the merrier. At Lucky, I love showing pictures of bloggers, including them as writers, featuring them, etc.
12. On the evolving magazine industry:
That rumor [about Lucky shuttering] was a rather silly one, if you ask me, because it came out the same day that a truly storied magazine—Ladies Home Journal—basically did fold. The magazine industry is going through an evolution right now, there's no doubt about that. The reality is that the way people consume media and are entertained is really fragmented these days.
Lucky's readers also are on Instagram, reddit, Twitter, Netflix, HBO Go, etc etc... What we as magazine editors have to do is create content you can't get anywhere else. The good thing, though, is that fashion magazines have always provided that—and I think the longterm viability of fashion magazines in particular is great because we are doing exactly that: you won't see a shoot with Candice Swaenpoel and Patrick Demarchelier and Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele just on Instagram. That exists in a magazine in eight delicious pages and it's something to savor and return to over and over.
In terms of paid content, well, magazines have done that in the form of advertorials for decades. It's always been a thing magazines have done. For me, I always just want to make sure it's done in the right way. Luckily, our publishing department/business side does a great job of it.
13. What it felt like to get the Lucky gig as an Asian-American:
It was very surreal in the beginning, to be honest. There were moments at fashion shows when I'd ask myself (in my mind, not out loud... not to sound crazy:)) "What am I doing here?" But I've gotten a bit used to it by now and, TBH, it's still pretty amazing/surreal. I would love for there to be more Asian-Americans in media/magazines. I'm involved with the AAJA. And I'm not the only one—there's also Janice Min and Joyce Chang. But hopefully more more more to come.
14. How she finds time to answer her social media commenters:
Well, honestly, I'm not sure how I do it all but I do? I suppose it helps that I genuinely love social media AND magazines so it doesn't ever really feel like work. And I find time to do both by just being structured about my hours... When I'm in a cab, for instance, that's prime tweeting/Instagram time. When I'm walking down the Lucky hallway, that's prime Instagram-stalking time. Did I say stalking? I meant... savoring :)
15. Post-CFDAs Rihanna is now her female style crush:
Female style crush: Rihanna and her nearly-nekkid dress at the CFDA Awards. Listen, if you had a body like that, wouldn't you basically dip yourself in crystals and walk around naked as well? Hmmm...