‘Followers are like very close friends to me.’
The Chinese social-media stars keeping Western fashion alive, post by post.
By Huang Hung
Additional reporting by Blake Abbie
Portfolio by Juergen Teller
It was 2014. Céline was showing its Fall/Winter collection in Beijing. In the front row, next to the editors of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, was a man with skinny, high-chiselled cheekbones and hair, streaked with silver and held tightly in a ponytail. He wore a white Comme des Garçons men’s shirt with black ankle-length skirt pants by a local Chinese designer called Bai Peng. I know because he had bought them in my store, Brand New China, in Beijing. I thought no Chinese men would actually wear them in public, simply because no one was that fashion forward. I was wrong, Wang Yi was.
At the time, Wang was editor in chief of all fashion-related content on sina.com, a company with revenues of $2.11 billion in 2018, which owns Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform that today has over 460 million active users. He was in charge of content on five Sina channels: Woman and Fashion, Art, Health, Education and Lifestyle; in other words, he was the guy who could bring millions of eyeballs to any fashion event. A year before the Céline show, he had combined the Woman and Fashion channels into one, and made Sina and its billions of daily pageviews the most important platform for luxury fashion brands in China.
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