SHANGHAI SPECIAL | Queennie Yang Interview - January 2013 | Queennie Yang is Fashion Editor at Large at The Week Magazine based in Shanghai. We had the great opportunity to interview her during our coolhunting & street style trip in January. She explained us her career path and gave us her insight on nowadays Chinese fashion industry as well as some shopping tips.
Would you rather recommend Beijing or Shanghai Fashion Week to discover emerging designers?
The Chinese international Fashion Week takes place in Beijing and is where you can see all the commercial brands. It’s very, boring, and not as trendy as the Pitti Uomo. However, in Shanghai you see unique, chic and special designs. The most influential designers are from Shanghai at the moment.
As I see, some famous designers don't want to live in Shanghai because the budget is too high, meaning the manufacturing fees, no one can afford it. Designers choose to base themselves in Xiamen - a very beautiful city. It reminds me of Saint-Tropez, with a beautiful environment, non commercial, and less cost to manufacture.
It's the case of SanKuanZ, a funny and creative designer who I like very much. You can find his collections online, at TheCorner.com.cn and other online shops like Taobao (the fashion equivalent of Ebay or Amazon), the biggest online shop of China.
To my mind Shanghai designers are most influential in China right now, you can see that Shanghai FW is getting more and more important, more beautiful, more attractive for international brands and designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, who have come to Shanghai lately.
Who are you favorite designers in China at the moment apart from SanKuanZ?
One of my favorite designers is Qiu Hao - he's one of the partners of NEITHER NOR - and Uma Wang because they make their own fabrics. You can't find the same fabric on the markets, they do their own development, prints, fabrics, material so it makes them very unique. I also love Masha Ma.
You absolutely have to go to Dong Liang Showroom, on Fuming Road. They have all the most promising local designers, an amazing selection.
Right now in Spain all the young designers are suffering a lot and very few can afford a shop. Surprisingly, many of the above mentioned designers have their own boutiques in Shanghai. How come?
In the last few years, all the Chinese designers were suffering a lot - the same as in Spain. They found a small road called Changle Road (but right now it's very commercial) and built a very trendy community. Then the landlords decided it was time to raise the rents, so they moved out and tried to find some new place to build their own shop. Thanks to the Shanghai government and real estate developers they provided the Xintiandi Area as a whole area for the local designers so they can get very cheap rents. Department stores realized that local designers sold very well, and so gave them their own shops in order to build their own brand. Now, there is a new department store called Meilongzhen Plaza, and Qiu Hoa, and Neither Nor just opened a concept store there.
Changle Lu is more to do with street wear brands, Japanese brands, it's very commercial - so I won't recommend you to go there.
Xintiandi area is a special place where you can find all the unique, all the special designers stores.
The Three Society is one of my favorite menswear brand here in Shanghai, in Xintiandi. Two designers, from China and the USA, created T.T.S. because the saw that Chinese men didn't dress up, so they wanted to help them dress better. They proposed special prints for suits, cufflinks on their shirt, something you can wear all day. People can't tell you're a trendy person. It remains in the details.
Tell us more about Fashion Schools in China
Situated in Shanghai there is Donghua University, which is the former Chinese Textile University. Many designers graduated from this university as well as two of THE WEEK fashion editors. Some designers just go there to attend conferences, concerts, for example last month they invited Henry Holland to give a lecture to the students.
Fashion is very popular in China now, but the school is only one way to get into fashion because many majors are focusing on manufacturing and fashion management. That's why so many Chinese students also want to go to Central Saint-Martins, ESMOD, Parsons, etc. When they graduate from Donghua, most of them want to go abroad to take more courses. But, like I said SanKuanZ is one of Chinese self-taught designers, he is very open minded and he always thinks out of the box. He is very humble and his prices are very fair and affordable, so many fashion lovers like to buy his designs.
Other designers have very high-priced designs, like Qiu Hoa, you maybe have to spend 500-600 euros for an outfit whereas SanKuanZ is like 60 to 100 euros, but the quality is very good because he moved to Xiamen. Costs are kept lower because he doesn't have his own shop, he only sells online.
Quennie, tell us more about yourself...
When I was very young my mother used to buy magazines and later she found out I was buying more magazines than her so she asked me "Why do you buy so many magazines? " "I like it, I like to see beautiful and fancy things".
So I made my decision to become fashion editor but unfortunately there is less press and media in Shanghai, they are all based in Beijing so I start my university in Fudang University - one of the top universities in China and studied law! It's not related to fashion, I know, but I got a chance to have an internship in Vogue China, which was just launched in China like 3 months before. One of my classmates worked there and he introduced me to the team and I could write some articles and do some translations for them.
Then, I got an internship in Cartier as a PR assistant mainly to write press releases, help them to create a media database, and assist them in the organization of fashion events.
When I graduated from Fudang University, I went to (which was very lucky and a big coincidence) work in a famous men's magazine called MEN'S UNO, that has many international editions like Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong.
I met my boss there who taught me everything about how to be a mature and successful fashion editor. I followed her to some fashion shootings and do fashion features, interviews. I was just a small potato during that time but she gave me the opportunity to interview Kim Jones, Kriss Van Asche, etc. This was very kind of her. I could open my eyes and discover the fashion world and she sent me to men’s fashion week. I met many designers there. It was the first time I went to Europe, and saw what the fashion weeks are really about, go backstage, talk to the models. This was very fun and new for me.
As I wanted to see more women's fashion, I went to a top-tier magazine, The Modern Weekly. The editor-in-chief, Shaway Yeh was my idol since high school. She not only knows so much about fashion, but also art. She is very helpful to Chinese designers, as she curates exhibitions for them.
This experience helped me to improve my Asian level to a whole global view. Before The Modern Weekly, Shaway Yeh was the first editor-in-chief of Vogue China, but the Vogue China had to wait 2 years to launch in China ; she said in an interview "I don't want to stay in Vogue China anymore because it's a waste of time, a waste of my life." So she jumped from Vogue China to a brand new magazine called The Modern Weekly. She built The Modern Weekly from a very plain, ordinary magazine to a modern & edgy magazine. I think it's still one of the top fashion magazines in China.
I worship Shaway Yeh. She just held a fashion movie exhibition, they brought over Nick Knight and other famous photographers to do collaborations with Chinese fashion artists. They held a very successful exhibition in Beijing last year. She's the Diane Pernet of China. She's very visionary. She was the first to see that the Web 2.0 and online business were coming, she told us to make some stories about it. She's focusing on the new media, so she made the new media of the Modern Weekly, which is called iweekly. It's the most successful media app in China.
Your job is very demanding, what would be the typical day of Queennie Yang?
I work at least 50 hours a week because all my life is filled with fashion. When I first get up I open my iPad to see all that's going on Style.com and I also check WWD, Fashionista.com and The Cut. I also find Showstudio.com very interesting and when I'm on the subway or in a cab I use my iPhone to check Instagram.
The social apps I use more are Tumblr and Instagram and the Chinese Facebook, Weibo. The one I use most is Weibo. Many celebrities use Weibo now like Nicola Formichetti, Henry Holland, V Magazine and Vogue Italia.
You travel a lot, fashion-wise, which country is most interesting right now?
Regarding designers, I think it's London because a few years ago people would have thought London was too crazy, not wearable, and overly dramatic, but during these last seasons I find London designers really cool like J.W Anderson, like Simon Rocha, I like them a lot. Maybe, I prefer Paris but I think Paris is getting old. New York and London are more energetic, younger. Don’t get me wrong when you go to Paris, you won’t want to come back. It is so dramatic, so good, I don't have words to describe it.
In New York I love Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang. Although I can't understand why Alexander Wang goes to Balenciaga. Nicolas Ghesquière was amazing, nobody can compete with him. Maybe Alexander Wang might attract young customers. Anyway, Nicolas Ghesquière is one of my favorite designers, along with Dries Van Noten.
What did you think of Hedi Slimane's comeback?
When I was young I thought the slim look was so cool I wanted to be a slim lady Why did you cut off the Y of Yves Saint-Laurent? And how can you make both YSL man and woman collection the same as Dior's 10 years ago? I don't know… There's nothing new. I prefer Raf Simons…
Street Style wise, do you think Europe is very edgy right now or do you prefer Asia?
I think Japan is very edgy. In China they take less risks. Chinese people prefer to look like the majority, still some young people want to be different and things are getting better. Shanghai is more elegant but if you want to see something extreme you should go to Beijing because people in Beijing are more brave to express themselves. You can see people wearing a whole Comme des Garçons outfit, whole Martin Margiela outfits around there. In Shanghai it's more chic and some fun mix-and-match style.
Do they use vintage clothes also?
Not as much as in Europe but the vintage culture is getting more and more influential right now. Some people in the fashion industry are willing to buy vintage pieces - you should go to these 2 vintage shops Lolo loves vintage & Nenmao Shop, the first is European vintage style and the second one is Chinese retro style. There's also a big flea market in Shanghai ANXI ROAD CLOTHES MARKET - and with a sharp eye you can find treasures.
Are young people more influenced by Occidental or Asian style?
In China, you find two kinds of people, one of them likes to wear Japanese style, which is more like street wear, hats, baseball jackets, etc. But in Shanghai they prefer the European style because it's considered chic and elegant. The Shanghai girls don't want to get to awkward, they always want to be smart and beautiful. People here in Shanghai are very concerned about the others opinion.
In Beijing they have their own style.
Queennie Yang is Fashion Editor at Large at The Week Magazine | Her outfit: Shoes I.T + Coat H&M + Dress ASOS + Belt J.W. Anderson + Hat MAJE
QUEENNIE YANG INTERVIEW | FASHION EDITOR-AT-LARGE | THE WEEK MAGAZINE | SHANGHAI, JANUARY 2013 #theweekmagazine #shanghai #china #shanghai2013 #queennieyang #interview