* The article by Mos Wu was translated from Mandarin and edited for brevity.
Emerging in the early 2000s as China’s “Queen of Retro,” CherryGun, full name Chen Xingru, has successfully navigated the country’s fast-evolving digital landscape and dynamic pop culture and fashion industries.
An internet sensation, she found success as a fashion blogger, and went on to diversify into fashion styling and now spearheads avant-garde fashion media platform Lofi.
Originally from Guiyang, Guizhou Province, and belonging to the Bouyei ethnic group, one of 55 minorities recognized by the country’s government, Chen says her urban upbringing wasn’t heavily influenced by her ethnicity.
Yet, the rich heritage of her home region, encompassing Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan, did subtly influence her distinctive fashion sense.
In 2009, her popular retro flair led to a regular “My Retro Party” column in the mainland version of Hong Kong fashion title Milk Magazine.
She styled prominent Chinese artists like Fan Xiaoxuan, Zhou Bichang and Zhang Haoran in the 2010s, and masterminded Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai’s Muse album cover, the avant-garde latex styling of which earned widespread recognition.
Chen launched Lofi, which curates coverage of street culture trends and influences young consumers, in 2016. The digital media has boasted nearly 150,000 followers on Weibo.
Here she talks to Jing Daily about the latest developments in China’s fashion, cultural industries and the importance of local subcultures to the evolution.
Jing Daily: How do you express your style and what interests you about today’s trends?
CherryGun: “Everyone is talking about Y2K, but it’s not just about the colorful hair pins you see on Xiaohongshu, or the resurgence of Shibuya-style elements from Japan. I think, in simpler terms, it’s about not adhering strictly to a certain style, but having your own style. So, when we draw inspiration from the turn of the millennium, it can be from advertising campaigns, digital product design, or trance music.”
Jing Daily: What sets Lofi apart from other youth culture media platforms?
“Lofi focuses on hot topics in today’s fashion and entertainment segments from a more precise and niche perspective. Sometimes, we emphasize verticality and specificity to an extent that makes us truly unique. From a content perspective, we believe this verticality is key to effective communication. However, in terms of content distribution channels and methods, we still follow the general public’s reading habits and trends, similar to other media.”
Jing Daily: In what direction do you want to take Lofi?
“I hope Lofi remains local. We want to focus on local cultures, and the connections between [China’s] diverse indigenous cultures and imported cultures. We document and report on cultural movements that have developed locally. For example, this year at Labelhood, a platform for emerging fashion talents in China, we hosted an art exhibition where we brought the works of underground tattoo artists into a century-old building. We use street graffiti, documentary screenings, and installation art to construct the subcultural forms seen through Lofi’s eyes.
We don’t want to keep producing content that merely circulates on the internet. Maximum data and traffic aren’t the sole purpose. In the future, we also hope to produce more offline content, presenting it in the form of exhibitions and physical publications, much like archival records.”
Jing Daily: Many young individuals aspire to be influencers. What advice do you have for them?
“My advice is somewhat conservative. I believe that, if possible, it’s best to start with large media companies. Self-created media relies on individualism as the basis for creation. Developing a mainstream media perspective, and then adding your unique angle enables you to expand your viewpoint in both directions. Thinking about it from a business perspective will help you more effectively approach the cultural elements you love and the viewpoints you want to express.”
Jing Daily: How do you balance adapting to new trends while maintaining your own style?
“I believe in inclusivity and respect for all cultures. This principle forms the foundation of Lofi’s content creation. For instance, LGBTQ subcultures, such as Ballroom, Queer, Club, or Drag cultures, thrive on respect and inclusion. Additionally, we look at subcultures like hip-hop, which have evolved over time, branching into sub-genres like Boom Bap, Old School, New School, and Drill. Cultural landscapes evolve and spawn new cultural movements and subcategories. We need to continually absorb, participate, and create when expressing our own style.”