China’s newest fashion KOLs mix travel savvy with distinctive style
The new generation of Chinese fashion influencers are overseas-educated, speak good English and sport styles that stand out from the crowd
Chinese fashion bloggers, influencers, KOLs (key opinion leaders) – call them what you will – are making their names with their daring, distinctive style rather than just being pretty clothes horses. Many have studied abroad, speak good English and command strong followings on Instagram, microblogging website Weibo and social media app WeChat.
These three have caught our eye in the past few months:
“To get the perfect selfie, the right lighting is key,” advises Anny Fan. “Soft light helps and take the shot at the right angle to achieve a slimmer face effect.”
The sweet, model-like Fan is one popular figure in China’s new generation of fashion bloggers, having worked with the likes of Tod’s, Piaget and Victoria’s Secret since 2015.
Her relaxed, fashion-forward and wholesome appeal has struck a chord with fashion labels; mainstream luxury brands are now vying for her attention, and that of her followers (2.8 million on Weibo, 44,000 on Instagram), who are “mostly students who study abroad and young people just starting their careers”.
For Fan, 1990s supermodels like Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford are her icons. She describes her style as “casual chic” – relaxed, simple and with attention to detail.
Fan used to work in banking while running her blog on the side, but it eventually got so popular that she quit to go it alone as a full-time blogger.
“The boom of social media in China creates demand for more online channels to be set up,” she says. “The increasing potential of China’s younger generation can no longer be overlooked.”
Yuwei “Yuyu” Zhangzou
Fun, colourful and vivacious, “Yuyu” Zhangzou has worked with the likes of Milan Fashion Week and Dior Beauty recently – sharing her fashionable life in pictures and video to over 1 million followers Weibo and 105,000 on Instagram.
A champion of bold shapes, prints and patterns, it’s easy to see her appeal to the millennial generation. Yuyu got her MBA in marketing management while living in Paris and worked for a cosmetics company.
“During my MBA, I did an internship at Dior and thought the fashion world was interesting,” she says, “But I didn’t have much experience to get into the industry. Then a friend suggested I do a blog … I researched and realised that this could actually be a real job.”
Her social media blogging career now takes her from big cities to Icelandic and the Grand Canyon. Since becoming a blogger, Yuyu has added fashion buying to her repertoire. Her look is smiley and relatable, and she blends girlish sensibilities with a street-style edge – which is what young, urban Chinese fashion fans are into at the moment.
Even traditional glossy magazines are falling for this KOL’s charms. Jerri Ng, editor-in-chief of InStyle China, says: “I can’t speak for other magazines, but here we celebrate influencers. We understand their reach and power.”
“As for Yuyu,” Ng adds, “she’s young, her style is a mix of high-end and street, and she’s smart and savvy. The best thing about her is that she’s a dream to work with.”
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Tracy Wang aka ColorBlocker
Fresh-faced Tracy Wang used to live in New York, where she studied journalism at NYU, before returning to Shanghai. Her social media feed shows vintage-inspired looks, a clever knack for accessories, and travels to exotic destinations. There’s an old-world charm to her youthful face.
She was “recognised as a fashion blogger by photographer even before I became one”, Wang says.
Today, she boasts 160,000 Weibo followers, and 25,000 on WeChat along with 16,000 on Instagram. Her “travel in style” tag line is a proper reflection of her adventures, with highly editorialised pictures showing her dressed to the nines in locales ranging from Peru to Bangkok to Alaska.
“I never want my style to be one note. It’s ever-changing, ever evolving,” she says.
Her time in New York, and the people she saw hanging out in Soho, influenced her tastes. “I guess that’s how my style got infiltrated with a downtown edge,” she says.
Lesley Yu, founder of Chinese sleepwear brand Sangluo, is a fan of Wang’s profile. “She’s quite different from the other KOLs, combining really intense colours and a strong style. She’s also always travelling, taking you everywhere around the world,” Yu says.
Wang knows that the fashion blogging world in China is already oversaturated. But those with a serious following and distinctive voice are still today rare finds.
“Basically in China, everybody can be a blogger the day you label yourself one,” she says. “But the scene still lacks many KOLs with the real KO bit, the ‘key opinion”!”