Emma Chamberlain is young enough to feel the same second-hand embarrassment about one of her early YouTube videos that I feel about early aughts AIM Away Messages.
“I can’t even think about videos from that [era],” she told me when we spoke on the phone this week, possibly while she was in her closet. “Oh, that era was just not right.”
But it was prescient. The 2017 video in question, “Easy and Affordable Ways to Improve Your Style,” begins with the very accessory that Chamberlain is here on the phone to talk about: sunglasses. Specifically very tiny, very trendy sunglasses. The now 18-year-old YouTuber, who left school at the beginning of her junior year of high school due to mental health issues and a desire to vlog full-time, partnered with Crap Eyewear to launch six frames designed by the influencer herself. Ranging from $75 to $89, the collection caused Chamberlain and her collaborators to lose sleep in their quest to make every detail just right. Her personal favorites? “The Prima Donna,” closely followed by “The Supa Phreek,” but at this point, she has to stop answering the question, because having to choose makes her want to cry.
The collection launches Friday, September 27 at 12 p.m. PT, but it’s certainly not the last splash Chamberlain plans to make in the world of fashion. After all, she attended Paris Fashion Week this winter courtesy of Louis Vuitton and got to drive around the indisputable fashion capital of the world with supermodel Karlie Kloss. She can’t even find the words to answer the question when I ask about her whirlwind 2019, but does have thoughts on a number of other issues. She spoke to Refinery29 about how long she plans to stay on YouTube, the vlogger drama that’s constantly unfolding online, and finally breaks her silence on what it actually means to be a VSCO girl?
Refinery29: First and foremost, you’ve been crowned the ultimate VSCO girl. Are you a VSCO girl?
Emma Chamberlain: “No. I don't dress like that and I don't use VSCO. I don't actually even really wear scrunchies as much anymore. It does kind of confuse me because, like wait, where? I didn't even know what a VSCO girl was until literally two weeks ago and apparently now I'm one of them. I literally I can't keep up. It's actually hilarious though. I don't mind.”
You’ve graduated from popular YouTube vlogger to being featured in magazines to attending fashion week, and now designing your own sunglasses collab. What has that felt like?
“I can't comprehend it. I can't fathom people who I don't know, knowing who I am, which is funny because that is what being a YouTuber is. All I know is that I'm just so humbled and so grateful.”
"I don't dress like that and I don't use VSCO. I don't actually even really wear scrunchies as much anymore."
Being a YouTuber is often synonymous with drama, but you’ve always managed to stay out of it. Has that been difficult?
“Here's my thing — this is just the way I'm wired and think this has helped me — I just want to have fun. That is not fun. Drama in general is not fun. If the situation is proving itself to become dramatic, I remove myself immediately. I basically have been able to remove myself from any group or anything that is starting to become a potential issue. I keep my circle small: people that I trust, people who are good, and also people who aren't in this space as well. I tend to isolate myself because of it, but I prefer that over drama.”
Do you plan to leave YouTube now that you’ve had a taste of working in fashion?
“I don't want to stereotype, but I think some people do tend to use [YouTube] as a launching pad and that's totally fine. That's totally their journey. For me, because I've been such a YouTube lover since day one, I want to continue doing YouTube but also branch out and do other things simultaneously.”
Why pick sunglasses as your first fashion collaboration?
“I've been a sunglass girl since day one. On my Instagram, if you go back I’m always wearing different shades of some sort and it is one hundred percent my favorite accessory.”
How did this collection with Crap begin?
“When I started my channel, I was trying to tap into my fashion interest...but I kind of ditched that. I felt like that already existed and there was a lot of that on YouTube and a lot of people who were doing it better than me. So I think a lot of people didn't know that I actually did really like fashion. I actually like designing and I like drawing out clothes and drawing up pieces. I think Crap kind of picked up that vibe probably through my Instagram more than my YouTube, because I think I put more effort into my fashion on Instagram because that's the place where where it feels right for me to show that. We started talking about how we could work together and it sounded like a dream come true”
When it came to making the glasses, what are some elements you wanted to include?
“I enjoy glasses that when someone's wearing them, you're like, Oh, that's almost a statement piece. I wanted to make glasses where somebody, instead of being like, Wow, that's a cool shirt. Someone would be like, Oh wow, those are some sick shades. I wanted to have statement glasses and also bring back some more retro vibes.”
Anything we should look forward to next?
“I branched out a little bit and am doing podcasts, but fashion is definitely a big one as well. Also just kind of going with it as time passes and as I grow, seeing what shows itself to be something that I want to dive into.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.