Savi Sui, one of the domestic fashion influencers to enjoy worldwide recognition, is next to be welcomed into the Jing Daily community of individuals shaping China’s booming luxury fashion industry. These profiles highlight industry leaders who contribute to the national and global fashion communities, from creatives and influencers to business executives and entrepreneurs.
Over the past six years, Savi Sui (@SavisLook) has dedicated herself to fashion and lifestyle creative content production. She now boasts an impressive five million followers across all social media platforms. Though these numbers are obviously not as high as some international stars, she nevertheless lays claim to being one of the most influential homegrown KOLs — recognized by numerous top-notch luxury houses and niche fashion brands.
Featuring a vintage (and seemingly effortless) chic style, Savi has built a strong visual identity that distinguishes herself from other fashion KOLs. There is a team behind her accounts, which until recently was just Savi and her husband, who is responsible for business affairs and visual production. Hiring a new member this year, they remain a small and nimble production outfit (quite distinctive from the KOLs powered by influencer agencies), which has been crucial for staying true to Savi’s creative principles in brand collaborations.
Starting her career in the US in 2016, the fashion influencer was known for her OOTD (Outfit of the Day) snapshots and Vlogs sharing her daily life abroad. In 2018 — the year the local influencer market saw a considerable boom — she decided to move back to the mainland, which diversified her follower profiles and attracted global brands eyeing its market.
In recent years, niche names such as TOTÊME, Nanushka, Ganni, Mansur Gavriel, and Missoma have partnered with Savi for their debut Chinese campaigns. Some of them also established in-depth collaborations with her to launch limited-edition products. With the Savi x Missoma jewelry collection officially unveiled earlier this month, Jing Daily caught up with her to discuss influencer marketing dynamics in China and the implications for brands.
I’m not curating my content for the sake of fame but more to share authentic daily life and thoughts. Some MCN (Multi-Channel Network) companies reached out to me and tried to map out a development plan by adding fixed titles and labels. But I would never label myself under any specific category. I wouldn't describe myself as an influencer who features Parisian styles, because I’ll probably drop it one day.
I prefer to connect with my real life for either content or what I wear. I prefer those things that are touching and empowering. We all grow in age, profession, and vision, so sticking to a fixed persona may constrain me. And my followers might question, “you’re not the same person as you were.”
In the past six years since uploading your first video, you have been constantly updating your style. What shaped your current look?
If you overly rely on techniques, or have a specific purpose in mind, the content will not be organic and engaging. Though I share a lot of niche brands, I never post anything that deviates and detaches from people’s daily life. I want each of my followers to see me as a real person. That’s why I shared my outfits in Beijing’s hutongs (a type of alley commonly seen in Beijing), in the skating playground of the park, and the snow mountain in Chongli — places where audiences can relate to.
To my followers, especially the most loyal ones, their focus may not be on what I wear, but beyond that — on my personality. The lifestyle that my vlogs showcase is what they may aspire to. But styling, along with the ingenuity and freshness of the visual, is of course the core of my content. High-quality content is important for audiences, but so is habitual and authentic companionship. Once the habit of viewing is formed, loyalty can be built naturally.
Influencers are the closest to the audience. With a thorough understanding of their preferences and trending content, influencers can help brands to build consumer loyalty. Thus, the trust of content creators is crucial for brands. I don't appreciate that one brief is delivered to dozens of influencers, because everyone has a different style and target audience. Regarding fashion KOLs as mobile billboards obviously goes against the uniqueness of this industry and will lead to negative feedback from consumers.
What are the major factors of successful collaborations between global brands and Chinese influencers?
Trust and communication. Due to the language difference, for terms like "limited collection," "limited offer," "limited-edition products," there are some disagreements between brands and nations, which may accidentally mislead consumers. The success of co-branding cannot be separated from the 100 percent trust and honest communication between the two parties. Brands need to rehearse the consumer journey: from online and offline sales platforms to after-sales channels; and from seeding to the ordering and using experience, which has to be a smooth and closed loop. The collaboration should be based on a shared goal of providing consumers with a fluent and pleasant experience.
From fashion to homeware, you’ve participated in a lot of cool projects. Are you anticipating any transformation in the next five years?
I’ve already got a full schedule, and I hope to do my best to balance the post frequency, quality, and daily operation. While brand advertising is still the major revenue for most fashion influencers, I’d like to have my own business in the future. In line with my positioning and expectations, my past experiences in fashion and home design are extendable; but, on the other hand, I’m aware of the environmental issues in the fashion industry. If I’m going to establish a brand one day, I want to bring products that are needed for a larger market, rather than being constrained by my current identity.
This interview has been edited and condensed by Wenzhuo Wu.