Still from i-D 1616 Taipei

Here’s what it’s like to be a teenager in Taipei today

In the latest episode of ‘1616’, we catch up with the young photographers, skaters and gymnasts navigating the unique pressures of life in the Taiwanese capital.

by Mahoro Seward
10 March 2020, 3:54pm

Still from i-D 1616 Taipei

You may be up to scratch with what’s coming out of Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai -- but Taipei? Admittedly, the Taiwanese capital’s international reputation has often been dwarfed by its larger neighbours. But take the time to learn about the city and you’ll discover a cultural powerhouse as formidable and complex as any other East Asian metropolis. What better way, then, to get acquainted with Taipei than through the eyes of the ones leading it into tomorrow?

Yes! That’s right! i-D’s '1616' series is back, with Taipei as our next stop. From the peaks of its towering skyscrapers to the bustling night markets below, we follow 16 of Taipei’s most ambitious 16-year-olds. From budding photographers to gymnasts to temple dancers, the image that Taiwan’s kids on the cusp of adulthood paint of their hometown is one of ambition, fun and progressive values. And no matter their passion, all share an attitude that anything can be achieved.

That achievement, however, isn’t something that comes without hard graft. Across the board, living up to external pressures to succeed, both at school and at home, is cited as one of the main challenges faced. “As 16-year-old students in Taipei, we’re constantly in competition,” says one of the teenagers we spoke to. “I feel there’s a lot of pressure from home and school life,” another echoed.

Still from i-D 1616 Taipei

Taipei’s youth is not, however, short of solutions on how to counterbalance day-to-day stress. Whether its dancing or dressing, skating or escaping to the country, these kids know how to cut loose. For all the hardships encountered in the classroom, though, Taiwanese Gen Z’s forward-looking focus is not noticeably affected.

“I feel extremely fortunate as a 16-year-old in Taipei. I don’t have to worry about expressing my true self,” explains one of the most-chic 16-year-olds we’ve seen yet. “Taipei held Taiwan’s first transgender march this year. Compared to other Asian countries, Taipei and Taiwan are becoming very progressive.” It’s a sentiment mirrored by all, it seems: “The abundance of information makes us very forward-thinking,” says one teen, “and sometimes confuses us too.” Think you can keep up? Watch the new episode below!

Gen Z