The fashion industry, by definition, operates at a fast pace, but nowhere more than in China, where the digital world has meant monumental changes to the way consumers learn about trends, choose their clothes and pay for them.
To cope with the voracious appetite for digitally-driven information, and images, Vogue China is constantly creative, thinking ahead to ensure that digital, as well as print, is a vital component of our portfolio.
To that end, and targeting the millennial generation, I launched Vogue Me, a funkier, zippier, quirkier version of the main magazine, featuring upcoming pop singers, movie stars and models. And, more recently, Vogue Film has made its debut, again with the aim of drawing readers from a broader catchment area, lured by online mini-movies, and fashion spreads, and featuring major Chinese stars such as Zhang Ziyi and Fan Bingbing.
But leading the digital fashion pack is no easy feat. The various divisions of Vogue China produce a phenomenal amount of material every week—exclusive celebrity interviews, fashion-show clips and behind-the-scenes looks—and the results show that we are the most-viewed (and most influential) of all the fashion titles.
Indeed, I am often told that in digital terms we are the most advanced worldwide of any traditional fashion title, successfully blurring the lines between digital and print, while at the same time, maintaining our creative integrity and commercial vitality.
One of the key planks in our strategy has been to offer advertisers the complete package—print and digital—using our in-depth knowledge of what Chinese fashion consumers want through our intimate connection to the zeitgeist.
When you are an executive in Paris, Milan or New York, it's difficult to have your finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving Chinese tastes.
The brands we work with trust our judgement and have confidence in our ability to deliver.
Through the multiple platforms of Vogue China, Vogue Me and Vogue Film, we tap into an affluent, discerning and trend-conscious set of consumers. They are also demanding: pouncing on any discernible slip in the peerlessly high standards for which Vogue is famed.
Over the years, my role has also changed. In the early days, a major mission of Vogue China was to educate readers more broadly about fashion, leading them away from the ‘bling-is-king’ approach.
During that time it was not always easy to persuade the big-name stylists and photographers to work for us—some took the view that we were commercial, rather than cutting-edge creative—but over the years, we have worked regularly with top international photographers from Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, and Patrick Demarchelier, to new talents such as Theo Wenner and Coco Capitan. And we have consistently got it dead right, both aesthetically and in business terms.
Now, everyone wants to be associated with China. Barely a day goes by when a CEO does not sit down in my Beijing office to discuss how to strategise the brand’s approach to the country. It is advice I am happy to give—with the major caveat being that the only certainty about the fashion industry is that more change will come, particularly in the digital sphere. Already, Chinese consumers are the world’s most enthusiastic on-line shoppers, using digital for everything from take-out coffees to couture.
It is exciting to be a part of this change. Increasingly, my role has become one of a mega producer, one who brings in the money, conceptualises projects, selects talent, produces films and images, promotes, and organises events. It is a job that requires creativity in all areas, and far beyond the traditional ‘creative’ area of Vogue.