With their compelling storytelling, luxury brand team-ups and entrepreneurial nous, China’s fashion blogging community is big business. Vogue talks to nine of the most influential digital empire builders to find out what makes them tick.Mega-influencers like Chiara Ferragni and Kylie Jenner might be magnetic on Instagram, but China’s most powerful KOLs (key opinion leaders) are new-wave media magnates. Constructing multifaceted empires across China’s diversely developed digital scene, they run their brands with flourishing features and compelling storytelling on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) WeChat (the most versatile chat app on the world) and Tik Tok (China’s Snapchat.) From front-row roving reporters to liaisons with luxury brands, Vogue speaks to the top nine Chinese influencers about what makes them tick.
1. Mr. Bags/Tao Liang
Weibo: @Bags包先生, 3.7m followers / WeChat: @bagsbaoxiansheng, 850k followers / Instagram：@mrbagss, 36.2k followers / Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu): 140k followers. Brands he works with: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tod’s, Dior, Gucci, Longchamp
When Tao “Mr. Bags” Liang launched his limited-edition Mini Horizon bag with Givenchy for Valentine’s Day last year, 80 of the candy pink bags sold out in 12 minutes. His capsule collection for Tod’s sold out 300 bags in one hour. Having founded his candid-toned blog while studying at Columbia University, his Weibo and WeChat became the number one handbag shopping guide for the Chinese market. His own e-commerce launched via WeChat in June and “bagfans” can expect a jewellery and watch account by the end of the year.
2. Becky Li
Weibo : @黎贝卡的异想世界, 3.2m followers / WeChat: @Miss_shopping_li，2m followers / Instagram：@beckys_fantasy, 40.3k followers. Brands she works with: Dior, Chanel, La Mer, Mini, Tasaki, Guerlain.
Becky Li already had drive – but selling 100 Mini Cooper cars on her WeChat in just five minutes last year only fuelled her title as the Chinese “Goddess of Shopping”. “Western bloggers mainly rely on exquisite personal style,” says Li, former journalist and founder of Becky’s Fantasy blog, “but we primarily spread the idea of life through writing.” Collaborating with designer Rebecca Minkoff on accessories last year, she sold out 1,200 bags in two days. Her fashion brand launched on WeChat with its first drop generating 1 million of RMB revenue in seven minutes. The second drop matched it in less than 60 seconds.
Weibo: @Chrison克里森, 5m followers / WeChat: @ChrisonZS，300k followers. Brands he works with: Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Cartier, Bulgari
Hidden from camera, champion Chinese fashion blogger Chrison holds a certain unique mystique. But such invisibility hasn’t hindered the former tennis magazine editor Chrison Wang from serving some aces. Producing social media content like a professional magazine, Chrison scored exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Prada’s new headquarters and chat with the “nose” of Chanel. “Our readers not only care about your outfit and style but also your aesthetic and ability in storytelling,” he tells Vogue.
4. Dipsy Weibo
@Dipsy迪西, 5.6m followers / Brands he works with: Chanel, Prada, Tom Ford, Jo Malone London, Atelier Cologne
“Chinese bloggers are all polymath multitaskers,” says former graphic designer Dipsy, handpicked by Chanel to star in its Valentine’s Day video 2018 in China market. Active across social platforms with fashion commentary, vlogs and live broadcast, Dipsy is a front-row regular – but just as bold behind the scenes. “My layout, colour tune and order of pictures are fundamental to me,” he tells Vogue.
6. Fil Xiaobai
Weibo: @Fil小白, 3.28m followers / Brands she works with: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, SK-II
Tattooed street-style star and stylist Fil Xiaobai put her stamp on Chinese fashion. She was the only female Chinese influencer to walk in Dolce & Gabbana’s autumn/winter 2017 runway show and the only Chinese face in Stella McCartney’s “One City One Girl” campaign alongside Dua Lipa and Irene Kim. While she works as a celebrity stylist, her own looks land the limelight. She recently shared her voice and point of view for Chanel’s 3.55 handbag stories podcasts. “The public realises the pieces I wear are beautiful and practical for ordinary people.”
7. Papi Weibo
@papi酱, 28.47m followers / Brands she works with: Jaeger-LeCoultre, BMW, SK-II, Max Factor, New Balance, Huawei, ICBC
Drama academy graduate Papi Jiang calls the commercial shots. China’s undisputed provoking girl, the online actress holds the record for the most expensive influencer advertisement, charging 22 million RMB for a pre-roll video ad spot. Not a typical fashion influencer – she found fame making funny, short videos that went viral – her influence is everywhere. Max Factor customised five lipsticks for her and luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre featured her in commercials. “My content is very close to life, more or less, everyone can find their own perception of it. It is like an outlet for their lives and emotions.”
8. Siva Shen
eibo: @了不起日报的了不起, 43k followers / Brands she works with: Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, Converse, Vans, Uniqlo
Siva Shen has nailed the niche market – and navigates her “unique and intellectual content” into huge social traffic. Previously a fashion features editor at Grazia China, she digs deep into brand stories while scouting for upcoming labels to unveil. “I’m about curiosity and not blindly following trends,” she says, noting that Western influencers are based on appearances. “They are more like real stars and celebrities. I always admire them; they only need to take some pictures of fashion events. It’s so chill.”
9. Zola Zhang
Weibo: @原来是西门大嫂, 1.62m followers W / Brands she works with: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Max Mara, Shiseido, Armani, Estée Lauder
Former film writer Zola Zhang believes content is the king – with her personal style just the trim. “Chinese bloggers must do more in-depth content than just selfies,” she says, citing a difference in reading habits to the West. Covering events from Cannes to couture she wraps her “down-to-earth and practical content” up in “emotional touch”. Having collaborated with 300 brands in three years she now employs a team of 30y.
10. Yishu Gao
Weibo: @搞艺术一横, 735k followers / Brands she works with: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Loewe, Selfridges, Joseph, H&M
The influencer antithesis, Yishu Gao posts infrequently and with little care for trends. “I pay more attention to the personal feelings and experience of wearing.” She wears her feelings well – H&M shot her for its autumn/winter 2017 campaign and she also gets exposure from Chanel Fine Jewellery and Joseph. She identifies with a new generation of Chinese bloggers who photograph daily and write in-depth. “We operate like media rather than individuals.”
This article was originally posted on Vogue Paris
Minor changes have been made by the Quiet Curator editors.