Tori West is dressed in a terracotta T, a patterned scarf, skinny jeans and a massive Aran-style cardi and looks incredibly cosy as she sips her milky earl grey tea. Why is this eighteen year old worthy of an interview, I hear you cry? Well it turns out that she’s pretty much the next big thing on the blogger scene, her blog ( http://tori-west.blogspot.com/) which mainly consists of images of her dressed head-to-toe in her favourite vintage finds, attracts thousands of readers each month. Even better - every post is featured on tween style bible – Teen Vogue. She’s also making her mark on the publishing world, as a Japanese magazine has recently contacted and asked for permission to use images from her blog. When reminded of this, her eyes light up and she gasps like she still can’t believe it – “Yeah! They do like a lookbook thing, where it’s something like ‘look of the week’. So they wanted to collect all my photos from my latest blog so they can put it on this photo thing, and go back every week and pick one, and put it on the thing. And I thought ‘that’s amazin’!’ but obviously, I can’t read Japanese…”
Tiny-framed, lavender-haired and immaculately made up, Tori West could very easily be one of those terrifyingly perfect girls that you’d find in some hip new underground club, smoking and pouting. Lucky for this interviewer – she’s not, not in the slightest. You’re more likely to find her trawling through charity shop bargain buckets excitably swooning. She’s pretty precise about what makes a decent charity shop though, “It needs junk! Clutter! I went to one in Bath, and I just thought ‘that is so rubbish’, they picked out bits that looked vintage-y and put them at the front. But they put the prices up because they were ‘vintage’, so it was like, twelve quid for a top, and it was a charity shop! And I was just like ‘you can’t do that!’ You’re supposed to rummage and look through things!”
She is a typical teen in every way – her e-mails and texts are laces with smiley faces, and her conversation is punctuated by ‘like’s’ and how so many things are ‘amazin’. A typical teen in every way, apart from her work ethic that is. “What I love about the fashion industry is that it’s always changing, it’s never the same. I like to work like constantly - I don’t like to stop. You start something, six weeks later you do it all again, and it’s probably tiring but…I’ll never be bored! It just keeps on going and going and going, it’s like a flow. And I love it.” She clearly adores the industry she’s destined to work in, when talking about her prized possessions, she sighs lovingly, full of admiration for her favourite vintage finds. She cites a guilty pleasure as sharing a large chunk of her wardrobe with her Grandmother – “even though it’s really embarrassing going ‘yep, this is from my Nan’s wardrobe.’ I borrow my Nan’s shoes” She laughs guiltily “because we’re the same size! But I love it, I love old looking things. I think grannies are quite fashionable – my Nan is anyway!”
She has a pretty solid world-wide fan-base, many of which she’s found via popular social networking site for the fashionable – www.lookbook.nu/ She has throngs of followers and adoring fans, with plenty commenting on how adorable she looks (“stop it ! stop being so cute !”) and asking for style tips. But how has notoriety effected the young internet sensation? “It’s quite scary… most of my readers come from Teen Vogue, and a lot of them are searching my name in google – which is scary. It’s quite daunting in a way -because I’m scared that one day I’m gonna post something really bad, like something that I’m gonna love and no-one else will! And then that’ll be IT! That’ll be it for the rest of the blogging thing then” She laughs, scrunching up her nose and shaking her head.
With such a close look on her style, how on earth does she decide what to wear each morning? “It takes me like, an hour! I’m quite casual today but even this morning I was like ‘ hmmm, what should I wear? Should I wear shorts? Ohhm what if it rains? What if…What shoes should I wear? Should I wear socks with those shoes? Like, literally, and usually I plan it. It sounds really sad! But I plan it the night before, like “right, what am I doing tomorrow?” and I think ‘hmmm, ok fine I’ll wear this, I’ll wear that.” But then other days I just chuck it on. But most of the time I think it through quite a bit”
With such success already under her belt, you’d be forgiven to forgetting that she is slap-bang in the middle of her A-level exams. Arguably the most important time for a person’s future success -how in the world does she manage to balance a successful blog along with her final year of sixth form? Most people in her year are panicking about highlighters and flashcards in these crucial final months –
“Well…I have two jobs as well which makes it worse. So literally, I’m working all weekend, and I’ve got three full days of exams this week as well, and I work after school… To be honest, I have no idea how I do it! I literally don’t know…tea, I think,” she gestures at her Starbucks mug, which seems fit for a giant compared to her tiny hands. “Caffeine…FOOD!” She giggles “And – I dunno, I find blogging quite relaxing, so I don’t see it as work”
What comes across mainly when talking to Ms West is just how much of a genuine, lovely person she really is. Just don’t ever buy her a Hollister hoodie – “Ohh do you know what I hate? Hollister. ‘Cause I work right next to it, and every Saturday there’s all these girls and guys in exactly the same outfits in a massive queue, actually waiting to queue up to go in! And I just think ‘what are you doing’ like what is wrong with you…And they all look the same in their Hollister hoodies and I just think ‘ohh no don’t…’” She shakes her head in disbelief. “My sister likes all that, she’s very like, ‘Jack Wills’ and ‘Hollister’ and I’m like ‘oh my god I could kill you’” She laughs “‘honestly, come charity shopping!’”
She also dislikes imitation within fashion – “I don’t like it when girls are like ‘oh I like Beyonce, she wore those shoes – I’m gonna go buy those shoes now.’ I don’t like that. I like people who are style icons, but I don’t like people basing their style on somebody else’s I don’t think. And it’s pushed on people in a lot of things. Some magazines and stuff push it on to people, and I don’t really like that.”
Instead, she prefers to take elements of her own style icons and use them as inspiration from her own looks, she adores Agyness Deyn and Alexa Chung (“even though she’s really overrated. I like her. She’s a babe”).
So, what does the future hold for this lady? Well, with a place to study Fashion Design waiting for her next year, it’s looking pretty bright “I’m gonna do that for the next three years, but then I wanna take a gap year, and then do a masters in Fashion Design and Merchandising if I can. But with that obviously I’d go away for that in like London or Manchester or something like that…but everyone’s leaving for uni which is gutting” she pronounces “guh-in’” in her Cardiff tone “and I’m just staying at home….” Then what? “I don’t know. I was thinking about it, I wanted to have my own shop for a while, and I thought that there are so many shops like that now. And then if it all goes downhill you lose all of your money, so it’s quite a risk. So I was thinking that, but I was also thinking about a teashop that did like a similar thing, but I don’t know. I want to do design, definitely. And if not, with the merchandising maybe I’ll be a buyer.”
She shows all the signs of a classic success story – determination, adoration, and outstanding charisma. There is not a doubt in the world that this girl is going to go on to do amazing things, even if she does so wearing her grandmother’s shoes.
View Rhiannon Derbyshire's Blog here... http://www.vintageextraordinaire.blogspot.com