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Lil Miquela, the AI influencer

Maybe it’s just me, but 2018 feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye and, yet, it was one long ass year. I mean, January 2018? Where’d she go? Throughout the time warp that was this year, I discovered that what I said during our 30 Under 30 piece last year continued to ring true for this year: it was the ultimate dichotomy. Mass tragedies. Natural disasters. Climate change (and how we still have to remind people that, yeah, it’s real). Ultra nationalism. “Ism’s” of every form. The news has been bleak. In the midst of that, millions have been motivated towards social action. Incredible, meaningful art across mediums have spoken truths, called us to action, broken taboos, and served as refuge and solace. Add to the personal downfalls, devastations, successes, and triumphs that affect each of us in our everyday lives and the duality of the year is even more apparent.

But back to fashion: now, possibly more than ever, fashion, beauty, literature, cinema, the arts, social justice, and civics are intermingled, fighting similar injustices, influencing, responding, and dancing to/with each other. This is why this year’s 30 Under 30 list expands beyond the fashion and beauty industries to salute peers and contemporaries across disciplines who are working, creating, speaking, moving, and acting with fervour, intent, passion, and purpose. *cue Pomp and Circumstance* Meet the Class of 2018.

1. Tyler Mitchell, @tylersphotos

Although we’ve always been a fan of his work, this year was a gigantic one for the young photographer, who shot Vogue’s September cover this year at the ripe age of 23. Not only was it the buzziest cover of the year, but he lensed Beyonce, no less, and became the first black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover.

2. Jo Rosenthal, @justjorosenthal

New York-based Jo writes about anything and everything - from politics, to art, cinema, relationships, and childhood. Although her catchment area for subject matter is broad, her voice is incredibly specific - relatable, insightful, and uncompromising. In 2018, we also saw more of Jo on the fashion week circuit, and have a strong feeling that she will be a major street style darling this year.

3. Pierre A. M’Pele, @pam_boy

Although the fashion industry loves a young prodigy when it comes to modelling, photography, and even design, the realm of fashion journalism is notoriously guarded. Nonetheless, 25 year old Pierre A. M’Pele, a recent graduate of Central Saint Martins, has the attention of the industry with his poetic, honest reflections on catwalk shows, and his deft use of social media (namely, Instagram stories) to get his commentary noticed. He also recently launched his own publication, SCRNSHT.

4. Elise By Olsen @elisebyolsen

At 18, Elise by Olsen might be one of the most ingenuitive, driven young minds on this listing, having launched her second magazine brand, Wallet, this past year. (You may also recognise her from her 2016 TED Talk, “A Manifest for Gen-Z.”) The pocket-sized sophomore issue included conversations with Isabelle Burley (also on this list) and Nick Knight and according to Elise, veers more towards fashion criticism than fashion journalism. Incisive, original, and destined for greatness.

5. Campbell Addy @campbelladdy

Campbell Addy has a lot on the go. The prolific photographer is at once the founder of Niijournal, a magazine for and by black fine arts photographers, and Nii Agency, a subversive modelling agency that supports models of colour and emphasises storytelling and social consciousness. In 2018, Nii Agency models showed up in Rihanna’s Fenty x Savage campaign and Campbell also shot Adut Akech’s i-D cover.

6. Anok Yai, @anokyai

The 21 year old model may be Naomi Campbell-approved, but a year and a half ago, she was just a student at Howard University homecoming, whose street style photo happened to blow up on Twitter. In 2018, she became the first black model to open Prada in 20 years and was named one of the industry’s top newcomers. Regarding this precious moment, Anok told Vogue: “It was an honour and I'm proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me. Me opening for one of the top fashion houses is a statement to the world - especially for black women - that their beauty is something that deserves to be celebrated.”

7. Isabella Burley, @isabellaburley

It’s still hard to believe that Isabella Burley is under 30 years old. Alas, the former Helmut Lang editor-in-residence and current Editor in Chief of DAZED is one of the most powerful tastemakers in the industry, not despite, but because of, her youthful, radical, intellectual persona.

8. Rina Sawayama @rinasonline ​Rina’s first gig was in November 2017, but this year, the ingenue singer performed at the O2, sang with Charli XCX, and landed a profile in The New York Times. She served many an iconic look (we’re talking fashion and beauty), but more importantly, emphatically strove to engender community-building amongst her fanbase, leaning on her supporters when she came out as bi/pansexual with the release of the single Cherry in September.

9. AMA, 18, @amasthetic

AMA (aka Amy Jones) was just getting things started this year. The 18-year-old West Londoner signed with Dirty Hit Records earlier this year (the label of the 1975, Pale Waves, and No Rome) and dropped her debut single “Monochrome” accompanied by a stunningly cinematic music video artistically exploring young, modern love and all of the feelings that come with it. Prepping a forthcoming EP, AMA has so much more for us in 2019.

10. Kelsey Lu, 27, @iamkelseylu

This year proved one thing (of many) - Kelsey Lu is our next iconoclast. You may remember, we crowned her as one of our rising artists with iconic style late last year. Becoming (arguably) the foremost contemporary to Solange, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter/classical cellist progressed the power of avant-pop this year with her epic music video for "Shades of Blue" and this November’s “Due West” all in a style uniquely her own.

11. Aaron Philip, 17, @aaron___philip

This year was a big year in the advocacy for trans and disabled visibility within the modelling industry, and 17 year-old Aaron Philip was leading the way for both. Self-promoting her way via Twitter and Instagram towards a modelling contract, Aaron - who lives with cerebral palsy - became the first disabled trans woman of colour to sign with Elite Model Management this July.

12. Amika George, 19, @amikageorge

In a 2017 study by Plan International, “One in 10 girls [in the UK] have been unable to afford sanitary products or had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues, one in seven girls have also struggled to afford sanitary wear or had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues, and one in five girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.” And globally, over 1.2 billion lack access to basic sanitation and hygiene, by which the United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and human-rights issue. This is why Amika George founded the #FreePeriods campaign in April of last year. Since then, her petition asking Prime Minister Theresa May to give all girls who are eligible for free lunch in the U.K. free menstrual products received over 200,000 signatures this year (and pushed government to give £1.5 Million in funds to address U.K. period poverty in March) and she has taken her message has went past the digital square by organising several protests and rallies.

13. Matty Healy, 29, @trumanblack

This year was one of clarity and sincerity for Matty Healy, the frontman of the 1975. Buzz and singles led to the band’s release of their highly anticipated third LP, "A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships," this November where Healy writes candidly about addiction (Matty is almost a year sober from heroin), recovery, regret, and life and love in the digital age. Through personal inflection, he managed to capture the moment, and the year itself, really. The fanbase (that has elevated them from an alt-pop Manchester four-piece to, arguably, one of the UK bands of this generation) are now not only consumers but participants (see their video for “TOOTIME”), using the bleakest of this year’s headlines juxtaposed with a glimmer of optimism in the anthem "Love It If We Made It." Next year will see even more from Healy when the 1975 release their fourth LP, "Notes on a Conditional Form."

14. (F)empower Collective @fempowermia

Comprised of 35 of the 305's most talented and passionate female and femme-identifying photographers, poets, stylists, DJs, visual artists, landscape architects, and creatives, (F)empower was founded by Helen Peña in June 2017. It first started as a blog post, later evolving into a zine spotlighting topics from female empowerment to other social issues, then into a collective and website. "[(F)empower] was definitely a response to Trump being elected and just my realization of the underappreciation of black women,” Peña told the Miami New Times in October. “Also, being young and a femme and queer and in Miami, [I was] just realizing that we didn't have enough of a community."

15. Shadi Al-Atallah, 23, @ramenate

Shadi Al-Atallah is a 23 year-old queer Afro-Arab multidisciplinary visual artist and painter who shot to the public eye in mid-August after Kanye West tapped her to reimagine a shot of the Kardashian-Jenner clan at Kylie’s 21st birthday party for the cover of the rapper’s single “XTCY”. A recent graduate of Camberwell College of Arts, the London-native’s work dissects the overlaps of identity, mental illness (Al-Atallah herself lives with Bipolar disorder), and spirituality, and was exhibited in the BBZ BLK BK: Alternative Graduation Show at Peckham's Copeland Gallery this July.

16. Josie Totah, 17, @josietotah

This year marked the rebirth of Josie Jay Totah. She started off 2018 as the breakout star of Mindy Kaling’s NBC comedy Champions playing the precocious, queer, theater loving teenager Michael Patel. In TIME op-ed released in late August, the 17 year-old came out as transgender, “My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah,” and (while balancing life as a college freshman) vowed to fight for roles of representation in film and TV. “I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play.. I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate — and a new world.”

17. Naomi Wadler, 12 , Emma Gonzalez, 19, and the March For Our Lives Activists

The U.S. experienced 307 mass shootings in 2018 as of November, with gun violence occurring daily. From the tragedy in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - where 17 students and faculty lost their lives - emerged a wave of young impassioned activists and the March For Our Lives movement which parlayed into the historic March 24 march on Washington. Emerging from the many voices were those of Naomi Wadler and Emma Gonzalez. Wadler, 11 years-old at the time of the rally, spoke poignantly about gun violence against black women, “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don't make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don't lead on the evening news,” she said. “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls and full of potential.” Emma, a survivor of the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas, has been an unapologetic voice on comprehensive gun reform, turning pain, anger, and rage into power, strength, and action.

18. Indya Moore, 23, @indyamoore

Ryan Murphy and Janet Mock’s FX show, Pose - about New York City’s mid-1980’s LGBTQ ball culture and its dancers - was one of this year’s groundbreaking pieces of television and it introduced the masses to rising star Indya Moore. The NYC actress, model, and activist (who plays Angel, sex worker and member of the ball community) has used her platform this year to advocate for the rights of trans women and (more specifically) trans women of colour. “This is what I want to utilize my existence for. I want to be a conduit for healing,” she explained to The Cut earlier this year, “[and] fight ignorance and a lack of information.”

19. Lil Miquela, 19, @lilmiquela

This year saw the rise in what very well may be the future of Instagram influencing and model with the success of one Lil Miquela - or Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, musical artist, and influencer with over a million Instagram followers who is a computer generated avatar puppeteered by Brud, a mysterious L.A.-based start-up who claim to specialize in artificial intelligence and robotics. Posing with models and celebrities, wearing the latest in runway and streetwear, snagging full-page editorials in Paper Magazine, Miquela has inspired a bevy of life-like avatar digital influencers who will continue to change the landscape moving into 2019.

20. Ezra Miller, 26

Ezra Miller’s incredible acting skills are nothing new. It’s one of the many things we’ve known since his breakout in 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. This year; however, Ezra solidified himself as a true style paragon, fluidly and boldly taking risks in fashion and beauty (see the many lewks he donned during this year’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald press tour), challenging masculine stereotypes and defining celebrity on his own terms.

21. King Princess, 19, @kingprincess69

Within the span of this year, King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) has emerged as one of the foremost musicians to contribute to the year of (as fellow musician Hayley Kiyoko proclaimed) #20gayteen. In February 2018, the Brooklyn artist released her debut single "1950" - a tribute to the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (which was adapted into the film Carol) - to critical and popular acclaim followed by her second single "Talia" in April. In June, she released her debut EP of intelligent, queer pop "Make My Bed" featuring songs like “Pussy Is God”.

22. Timothee Chalamet, 22, @tchalamet

Riding last year’s wave from the successes of Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, and Hot Summer Nights, Timothee Chalamet sailed into 2018 already the burgeoning style icon, “heartthrob of the moment,” and part of the “Internet’s boyfriend” club; however, this year cemented him into the Hollywood and public lexicon. The 22 year-old reiterated Oscar buzz with his performance as a young man struggling with addiction in Beautiful Boy. Oh yeah, and he nearly broke the internet with his i-D cover story/interview with Harry Styles where they discussing masculine modernity, success, style, and *cough cough* the peach. He’s got a lot for us to feast on next year, teaming up once again with Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan for the upcoming remake of Little Women, Netflix’s The King with fellow heartthrob Robert Pattinson, and a just announced Wes Anderson collaboration.

23. Maxim Magnus @maximmagnus Smart, talented, gorgeous, and tenacious are just a few ways to describe Maxim, one of the industry’s new favourite models. Advocating for not just trans visibility, but for a greater understanding of gender and trans lives more broadly, she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar and DAZED this year, on top of doing catwalk shows.

24. Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt of @artschool_london Eden and Tom made our list last year, and thanks to their continued passion and hard work, the duo have had an even stronger 2018. They showed their first solo catwalk (outside of an incubator) at London Collection: Men’s, building on their vocabulary of irreverence and queer aesthetics.

25. Daisy Walker, founder @womennfashion Daisy’s organisation, Women in Fashion, promotes inclusivity and intersectionality in the British fashion labour force through monthly meetings and now, a new radio show. WIF convenes radical industry creatives across disciplines to discuss issues surrounding sexism, mental health, and labour.

26. Lindsay Peoples Wagner @lpeopleswagner Over the summer, Lindsay’s investigative look at what it is like to be black in the contemporary fashion industry for The Cut blew up, and to many, a story that had such a far reach could easily be a year-topping milestone. Success found Lindsay yet again, however, in October, when she was named Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue. So well deserved.

27. Kimberly Drew, @museummammy Kimberly represents a voice that is desperately needed within the art and museum world. As social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the blogger behind “Black Contemporary Art,” her voice is poetic, smart, touching, and necessary for decolonising the museum space.

28. Aima Niqabae @niqabaechronicles Aima uses graphic design and art to subvert expectations of what it means to be a Muslim niqab-wearing feminist in contemporary Canada. Her Twitter and YouTube are opening up more space for conversation and understanding, as Aima continues to proclaim the sacredness of her autonomy.

29. Chella Man @chellaman

Chella is a multidisciplinary deaf artist whose works on paper, paintings, and garment design have made it around the world and back again. 20 year old Chella also spent the year documenting his transition, modelling, and writing for THEM, all the while inspiring his followers to speak their truths and create meaningful work as well.

30. Elad, 22, and Neta Yam, 20, @urbansophisticationtm

Urban Sophistication - the label founded in 2015 by siblings Elad and Neta Yam - is coming out of 2018 thriving at fashion’s apex, blending meme culture with satire of capitalist materialism (but making it fashun). This year saw a massive spike in demand for the duo’s label (thanks in large to the support of many of fashion’s top models who can be spotted sporting one of the label’s sarcastically cheeky phone cases proclaiming, “Social Media seriously harms your mental health,” “Unretouched Images of Mona Lisa Surface Offline,” or “iFhone”) and branch into limited streetwear drops, a NYFW presentation, and accessory expansion.

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