Perhaps once the study-abroad student you sat next to at college, now a globe-trotting mini-celeb, China’s latest cohort of online stars are where two worlds collide. These influencers may be sipping a Starbucks in the morning before taking an afternoon tea break at Chinese cafe chain Luckin. They lip sync to both Kanye West and Kris Wu, while checking out the singers’ latest viral videos on both Douyin and Instagram. They use VPNs to chat to friends on Facebook, and editing app Meitu to add cute cartoon filters to their selfies. They are not bound by geographical marks like Beijing or New York – they own the best of both.
This new breed of influencers spend lengthy periods of time in both China and abroad, and have developed a considerable following of global fans on both Weibo and Instagram. Compared to local online influencers, these stars have to appease a following who operate in every timezone, juggling likes, tags and shares with an international audience at the tap of a touchscreen – in Chinese and English.
International influencers are often some of the most useful key opinion leaders for luxury fashion houses, due to their popularity with fans in both the east and west. This leads the stars to act as unofficial advisors for these global brands, guiding them to understand an increasingly collective millennial mindset.
See below for Jing Daily’s list of the top international Chinese influencers you should follow, chosen by a collection of luxury brands and overseas fashion professionals. Based on their social media figures and the brands they collaborate with, the list is ranked from the most to least influential.
WeChat yuyuzhangzhou: 49K
Yuwei Zhangzou, nicknamed ‘Yuyu’, is originally from Xinjiang in Northwest China – a place known for its hospitality. Yuyu, too, is known for her bright smile and enchanting personality. Her blogger career started after she graduated from an MBA in marketing in Paris. By living and studying in the home of many luxury brands, Yuyu learned to understand their mentalities, and has since cultivated relationships with a list of French luxury houses including Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Kenzo.
Despite her cutesy onscreen persona, off-screen Yuyu is a serious businesswoman, running her blogger business as an MBA case study. She now resides in Shanghai where she built her own studio “YUnit” as a way to expand the scale of her personal branding to e-commerce. Yuyu flies back to her second home of Paris frequently, and has been spotted together with industry hotshots including Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri and creative director of Dior makeup Peter Philips.
2. Margaret Zhang
WeChat: no official account
Fashion influencer Margaret Zhang has been praised for her unique creative vision, attracting many luxury labels to her personal branding. Zhang not only wears the clothes of luxury brands, but works behind the scenes on creative projects for them, having collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Chanel. She refuses to be labeled an ‘It girl’, and says 60 percent of her career is consulting work, 30 percent photography and 10 percent as a stylist, “and the rest (0%) is about being a blogger.”
Australian born Chinese, Zhang is represented by talent agency IMG, and splits her time between New York and Shanghai to connect with a global audience. Although she has fewer followers on Weibo than other KOLs on this list, she regularly posts updates (in Chinese) to the delight of fans, who marvel over the color and visual composition of her images.
3. Anny Fan
Weibo@Anny__Fan: 2.9 million
WeChat style-on-top: 300K
Instagram@ _annyfan_: 46.1K
With her tall, slim physique, it’s easy to mistake blogger Anny Fan for a model at the various fashion events she attends. Just three years ago Fan was working as a PR at a bank in China, yet she is now a frequent collaborator with luxury giants Fendi, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Fan’s early blogging approach was similar to that of many western influencers – using a blog to tell visual stories instead of writing elaborate posts. Her visual style and presentation have attracted many fans who are Chinese students studying abroad. Traveling overseas constitutes a big part of Fan’s blogger life, and she was recently invited on a trip to Venice by Bottega Veneta and Coty. As part of her work, she’s also been spotted interviewing other international millennial KOLs, like Kendall Jenner and Mizuhara Kiko.
Having begun her blogging career as a study abroad student in the U.S., Youtube was Savi’s window to the fashion world, which has heavily influenced her style as a fashion video creator. A similar duo as Chiara Ferragni with her photographer boyfriend Andrew Arthur in the early days, Savi and her boyfriend co-create their videos. Her visual style is effortless chic with a hint of bohemian, but she is at heart a fashion problem solver, offering straightforward and practical styling and skincare tips for her fans.
Often engaging with comments from fans, her professional attitude and down-to-earth Beijing accent have garnered a group of loyal fans, and attracted the interests of many contemporary fashion brands like H&M, Mango and Manu Atelier and luxury brands Dior and Bally. She has now moved back to Beijing but frequently travels abroad to exotic locations including Istanbul, Bali and Phu Quos, and has begun to make cooking videos to expand her identity as a lifestyle blogger.
5. Licheng Ling
WeChat: no official account
Licheng Ling doesn’t label herself as a blogger, but her unique aesthetic has garnered her a fair amount of fans longing to see what she’s going to wear next. Her style, described as “hyper-focused minimalism” by Vogue, is growing increasingly popular with a young millennial market in China. Her artful approach to style has attracted various brands, including big luxury names Prada and Burberry.
Ling understands the fast pace of the fashion business, as a former Instyle China editor, and gained marketing experience working for several luxury brands including Stella McCartney and Alexander Wang in New York. Her own brand, Homeism is a high-end loungewear “that people can live, work and sleep in.”
6. Jiaye Wu
WeChat: no official account
Little Red Book: 99K
In a world where online fashion bloggers are becoming increasingly difficult to tell apart, Jiaye Wu stands out. With her pale skin, narrow eyes and willow-leaf eyebrow, she looks like a character from an ancient Chinese painting. To people in the fashion industry, she is known for being the first Chinese star to model for Calvin Klein’s, and has been a regular to many brands since 2015, such as Hermes, Yohji Yamamoto and Balmain. She has also been featured in fashion magazines including Elle US, Harper’s Bazaar and Grazia.
Having already garnered thousands of fans, Wu is determined to become a hybrid influencer, (similar to South Korea’s model Irene Kim), maintaining the image of a high-fashion model, and the down to earth nature of a friendly, personable blogger on the latest social media like Douyin, Little Red Book. For this September’s New York Fashion Week, Wu will come back to the city where she started her modeling career, but as a blogger, sitting in the front row at Michael Kors and Tory Burch’s fashion shows.
WeChat FengwansTheorem: 39.2K
Fengwans, AKA Wan Wan sister (晚晚学姐) , is the A+ student among fashion bloggers, having earned a statistics degree from the University of Chicago. She later moved to LA to work as a full-time data analyst while blogging on the side. Her WeChat posts tackle topics larger than fashion, like offering tips on being a young mom and career girl, engaging fans with her honest and personable nature. Fengwans is now based back in Beijing, with the latest addition to her family, her newborn baby boy nicknamed little starfish. She has previously worked with brands including Free People, Stuart Weizmann and Calvin Klein.