ELLE China Editor Becomes CEO as Chinese Fashion Magazines Up Their Digital Game

    An icon in China's fashion media landscape, Xiao Xue is now aiming to steer ELLE China down a path of success in serving digitally savvy Chinese consumers.
    This marks Xiao Xue's 14th year of playing a pivotal role in the Chinese edition of ELLE Magazine. (Courtesy Photo)
    Ruonan ZhengAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    ELLE China has expanded the role of editorial director and BoF 500 member Xiao Xue to CEO and editor-in-chief as the magazine continues to forge a path into a multimedia landscape. Xiao Xue started her journey in 2006 at ELLE China as chief content officer and ever since has implemented a digital revolution at the magazine, which now encompasses a website, an app, a television channel, an online shop, and a credit card with more than 2.8 million female cardholders.

    “Her unrivaled knowledge of the fashion and consumer landscape in China and her passion for innovation and collaboration are great assets which we look forward to seeing her leverage further in this exciting new role,” Simon Horne, senior vice president, CFO of Hearst magazines, said in a statement.

    ELLE China's history of innovation. (Courtesy Photo)
    ELLE China's history of innovation. (Courtesy Photo)

    Probably more well known in China than internationally, Xiao Xue maintains a popular Sina blog and Weibo mirror blog that showcase her travels and her day-to-day activities, putting her much further in the Chinese public eye than most of her peers. ELLE China was the first high-profile international fashion magazine launched in China, and the publication under her lead has reached 6 million readers every month.

    Xiao Xue has been credited with continually reinventing ELLE and adapting to the challenges of the digital landscape in China, especially considering that the print industry has been facing hard times. In 2017, FEMINA, a local fashion weekly under Hearst China, announced it was closing down its print publication after almost 10 years. The lifestyle magazines the Bund and Ray Li Fashion Pioneer also closed down and are focusing their efforts fully on digital media.

    However, according to Jing Daily’s report on the media consumption habits of affluent Chinese consumers in 2016, digital consumption has yet to overtake print consumption in China when it comes to international publications. For print publications, this may be comforting to know, but they are definitely not going to be left behind in the digital game.

    For example, under Angelica Cheung's lead in March 2016, Vogue China created Vogue Me, a new edition of the title designed for the Chinese millennial audience. When it launched 30,000 copies of the online limited edition, it sold out within six minutes.

    Xiao Xue also commented on her new responsibility in leading the publication to be a competitor in the digital space. “Effective immediately, we're redoubling our efforts to grow our digital audience—there is huge potential that we are going to unleash, and we know that to succeed we need to win on the social platforms first and foremost,” she said in a statement, adding that ELLE China's digital platforms' revenue keeps increasing, notably via ads from social media accounts, video, and

    ELLE China's media roadmap. (Courtesy Photo)
    ELLE China's media roadmap. (Courtesy Photo)

    In an interview with Chinese fashion website,, she openly discussed her struggle and lessons learned in the digital age. “You can’t allow yourself to be lead by numbers, you need to know your value by heart,” she said. “Everyday I struggle with numbers, traffic, and money. When the business does not look right by the numbers, you feel anxious and your first instinct is to try to figure out how to build back the numbers and not lose advertising revenue from your clients.

    "But you have to always remember that the reason clients want to do business with you is because of the value of your brand, how it’s influential to the consumers.”

    We look forward to seeing what refreshing moves ELLE China’s boss has in store.

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