Margaret Zhang’s Vogue China Stands Against the Norm

What Happened: On August 6, Vogue China unveiled its widely anticipated debut cover from Margaret Zhang — who replaced former editor-in-chief Angelica Cheung this February — titled “New Beginnings.” The September issue, directed by Vogue’s youngest-ever editor, features a new 19-year-old face on its cover named Fan Jinghan wearing a Johannes Warnke dress and standing in front of the sunrise in the northwestern desert of China, photographed by Hailun Ma. The sunshine in the background throws a golden halo on Fan’s forehead, which, according to the publication’s official Weibo account, sends a message of vitality, hope, and strength while signaling a new dawn for the magazine. Ahead of the cover’s reveal, Vogue China’s Instagram account was wiped; it now only shows three posts about this new issue.


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The Jing Take: While the overall feedback from netizens has been positive, Margaret Zhang’s first cover hasn’t made the waves it was expected to in China, with the social post only garnering 2,900 likes so far. Yet, choosing not to rely on superstar traffic has been highly appreciated by netizens. Jing Han, a dance student at Beijing Sport University, was cast through the magazine’s Hello New Face initiative, launched on July 14 via Vogue China’s Vogue Club app. Amid China’s ongoing explosion of  idol industry scandals, it would have been extremely risky for the publication to feature a celebrity on the cover, making this a smart and welcome move for Vogue China.

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However, it was a bit too pedestrian for some, and the strategy isn’t for everyone’s taste. Some comments suggest “it’s too flat and normal for the September cover.” Meanwhile, others thought featuring “ordinary” people in the September issue was not a big enough statement. As with any shake up, consumers need time to adapt. With one issue down, the road ahead will reveal how Zhang’s new vision falls into place.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.