Hong Kong’s swank generation: the fashion bloggers turning hobbies into careers

With social media providing the means to reach a potentially huge audience, the city’s millennial fashionistas are channelling their inspirations and finding their voice

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 6:02pm

With social media platforms providing an easy path to self-publishing, talented millennials are taking success into their own hands. Among those joining their ranks are local fashion bloggers who follow their passions to express their unique styles while trying to find a distinct voice in a city as diverse as Hong Kong.

Young fashion bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. They identify their own unique style and then find ways to express it. These aspiring fashion entrepreneurs are making their mark, and doing so visibly.

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Australian-Chinese Visala Wong is the founder and designer of LUZID Designs and has been a regular blogger since launching V for Visala in 2012. It’s not something she feels she has to balance with her personal and professional life. “Blogging is a lifestyle that blends into everyday life,” says the 26-year-old.

Wong is not alone in her belief that her passion for fashion blogging does not need to be balanced with other activities. Krisha Sia, a 21-year-old Chinese-Filipino fresh out of college, considers blogging a “natural routine”. Sia, who has been running her blog Manila-Hongkie Girl since 2013, says, “Blogging is like putting on clothes, taking a shower, brushing my teeth. I don’t need to balance it with my personal life.”

As natural as fashion blogging seems to come to these young fashionistas, finding inspiration for blog posts is a continual process. Wong and Sia look around to find inspiration, seeking it from anything and everything. “One time I had a trend book project and I got inspired while observing a concrete wall in an alley,” she says.

Ira Otivar, a 27-year-old Filipino receptionist who runs the blog StyleKush, keeps a mood board for inspiration, which includes music, art and photographs. She says, “I have a folder on my phone with tonnes of photos I get online, and my Tumblr actually serves as my ‘inspo blog’.”

Karen Chiang, a 23-year-old digital project manager from Hong Kong who runs the blog Helloabella, also looks around her environment for fast inspiration. “I’m inspired by what people around me wear,” says Chiang, who has been blogging since 2012.

Similarly, Charmaine Gapasin, a 22-year-old intern with LUVMYDRESS, who has been running her blog alacharms since 2013, finds inspiration on the city’s streets. “Whatever gives me motivation and improves my creativity becomes my inspiration,” she adds.

Like other types of blogging, fashion blogging can open doors for different opportunities. Gapasin blogs as a hobby and never intended for her blog to be work-related. However, she admits it has helped her professionally. “My blog isn’t really work for me, but a hobby,” she says. “But I can’t deny that it helped me gain an internship in the fashion industry.”

Making it as a recognised fashion designer in Hong Kong is no easy feat, especially without a degree in fashion from one of the fashion capitals of the world, such as Paris. This helps explain why blogging sites are becoming increasingly popular as more new millennials opt to self-publish. The benefits of self-publishing aside, fashion blogging can help boost a blogger’s confidence as they grow from the many poses in front of cameras. “My size has always made me feel self-conscious,” says Chiang.

Chiang is not the only one with insecurities. Otivar names fashion as her favourite medium for self-expression. An otherwise shy person, Otivar gained confidence through fashion. “Fashion was my stepping-stone to put myself out there and make my dreams and goals into reality,” she says.

Be passionate and thoughtful. Don’t overthink things and be confident that you, and what you have to offer, is enough
Cindy Ko, fashion blogger

Although most fashion bloggers become aware early on in their lives about their passion for fashion, how they become aware of it is fascinating. Gapasin’s interest in fashion began while watching her grandmother sew, while Chiang was inspired by local bloggers such as Denise Lai, who runs the blog SUPERWOWOMG.

“I was amazed with watching my grandmother sew and make clothes,” says Gapasin. “I became invested in the process – the measuring, the pattern-making, the sewing. She asked me what I would like her to sew, and I started to draw dresses and tops. Creating them in my mind and seeing them come to life just cemented my interest in fashion.”

While defining good fashion sense is subjective, Gapasin says she looks to herself as her own muse. Seeming to agree with her, Chiang adds: “We all do different things and it’s not fair to say we want to be like other fashion bloggers.”

While these aspiring fashion bloggers stay true to their own styles, it doesn’t stop them from admiring the fashion sense of other local bloggers who have made it big in the local industry. A prime example is Cindy Ko, 30, of the blog Cindiddy.

Wong calls Ko “a pioneer in the Hong Kong fashion blogging scene”. Ko, who has more than 35,000 followers on social media, is honoured to be called that, given that ultimately she wants to inspire others.

A full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger who started blogging eight years ago, she started modelling at the tender age of 13 and has worked with big names including Levi’s and elle.com.hk.

“I hope to inspire others just as I’ve been inspired,” she says. “The incredible thing about blogging is that you can really speak to your readers through writing, photos, or whatever medium you choose.”

On advice for young aspiring bloggers who look up to her, she says, “Be passionate and thoughtful. Don’t overthink things and be confident that you, and what you have to offer, is enough.”

Being confident in what we have to offer might very well be what keeps local Hong Kong fashion excitingly diverse. When asked to define Hong Kong fashion, Wong believes there is no one word to describe it. “Everyone has their own sense of style that tells an interesting story,” she says. “It’s very diverse.” Chiang agrees: “Hong Kong people certainly have their strong habits and style, and you can also see a lot of avant-garde and bold fashion lovers.”

Otivar believes Hong Kong is a city that quickly catches up with fashion trends around the world, although fashion evolves very fast here, giving Hongkongers the freedom to be creative with it. “What I love about Hong Kong fashion is that you’re free to be creative and people appreciate it,” she says.

Diversity and fast-evolving fashion in Hong Kong are what give these young bloggers flexibility with expressing their unique sensibilities, as they charge ahead with self-publishing. As they continue their fashion explorations, it is safe to say they may become the force behind a fashion revolution in Hong Kong.