Chinese models are a rising force in the international fashion world with increasingly high incomes and a growing presence in print and on the runway. Before today’s start of Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, we caught up with New York-based Chinese model Jing Wang, who will be taking part in her third show season and walking in the first show of the week. The 21-year old hails from Chongqing and modeled in Shanghai before arriving in the States, where she is represented by Wilhelmina Models. Last season, she walked for Venexiana, Houghton, David Tlale, and Hernan Lander. In the interview below, she talks about the differences between modeling in the United States and in China, her views on the growing demand for Chinese models, and her favorite designers.
Liu Wen recently became the first Chinese model to make the world’s highest-paid list. In your personal experience, have you noticed an increase in demand for Chinese models in recent years? If so, why do you think this might be?
I think there’s been a steadily increasing demand for Asian models in general. I think that the increased demand is due in most part to the strength of economies in Asia as well as the significant growth luxury brands are seeing in those markets.
Some say the reason for the lack of Chinese models in high-profile shows and campaigns has to do with the lack of professionalism of Chinese agencies. Would you say this is an accurate assessment? What are the differences between Chinese and New York agencies in your experience?
I’m familiar with some unprofessional practices at certain agencies in China, however, [I] have been fortunate to work with a very professional agency in Shanghai. I think that Asian models in general are seeing more and more opportunities, especially as we see a lot more different kinds of Asian beauty being represented. I’d say that Chinese agencies tend to manage your life in general a little closer and sometimes the fine line between career and personal life gets blurred a little bit. I would say that it’s probably less so the agencies and more so the creative direction from brands that we’re seeing [the industry] starting [to] open up to more Chinese and Asian models being selected by major brands and magazines.
Who have been your favorite designers to work for, either for a runway show or photo shoot?
I really like almost all of the designers I’ve worked for. It’s always fun to have a good relationship with the client—and you learn what they’re looking for in a model and how better to work with them once you build a relationship and get some working experience together, which makes everyone’s jobs easier. It’s been fun to come back to NYC and see a lot of the faces you recognize and who recognize you.
Who are some of your favorite designers (Chinese or other)?
For designers I haven’t yet had an opportunity to work with, I really appreciate Hedi Slimane’s work in both men’s and womenswear. Both classic and edgy.
Who is your fashion icon?
Miranda Kerr is my favorite female model. She’s feminine, strong, sexy, and classy.
What are some of your favorite looks from this season?
I’ve seen some great stuff during castings, of course I should probably leave the surprise for them!
How do you like living in New York?
I love New York and live in the East Village. Downtown is great with lots of food options, and it’s easy to get around from or a quick walk into Soho. I’m from China, but it seems like the majority of people here in New York are from somewhere else so you never feel out of place. It has a lot of the same high-energy, fast-paced feel of Shanghai that I’m used to.
What do you miss about China?
Definitely the food and a number of friends and family that are close to me. My sister just had her first baby and so we’re on video chat almost daily.
Are you working on any upcoming projects?
Yes, but primarily just getting geared up for Fashion Week with my first show being the first show for all of MBFW. Working on seeing what opportunities there are for London, Paris and Milan following MBFW.