Victoria's Secret had four Chinese supermodels walk in its show for the first time ever, but before the likes of Liu Wen and Sui He were breaking records, Emma Pei has been helping to pave the way for Chinese models in the international scene.
Pei has been making strides with big name brand campaigns like Tory Burch and Vera Wang, and contributing to a number of luxury “firsts” for China. Earlier this year she and her husband Rojamtic Wang modeled for Princess Cruises as they reworked their image into a high-end travel brand, and she walked the runway for Giambattista Valli at Shanghai Fashion Week's first Fashion Rocks event in October. Her most recent endeavor is not a first, but part of an ongoing relationship with an Australian company hoping to convince Chinese consumers that wool is the way to go.
Pei was photographed along with Olympic gymnast Liu Xuan and Chinese actress and “It Girl” Chen Ran by fashion photographer Fan Xin in Woolmark's Merino wool garments designed by 10 Chinese luxury fashion labels. The photos were debuted at a luncheon last week in Beijing in partnership with T Magazine, and for the next month, they will be on display in their corresponding brands' shops, which include Chloe Chen, JNBY, EIN, ICICLE, and Song of Song. Shoppers will be able to purchase the Merino wool collections in stores.
This is another in a growing list of examples where Woolmark has teamed up with Chinese designers for its campaigns to promote Merino wool and its Cool Wool products, which are designed to be lightweight enough to wear during warmer months. During Shanghai Fashion Week, the Australian non-profit showcased Cool Wool collaborations with six different designers, including Babyghost and Shushu/Tong. The brand also took its International Woolmark Prize finals presentation to Beijing for the first time last year, showcasing China's growing importance in the wool market.
Pei has now collaborated with Woolmark for three different campaigns. Her first, for Vogue China, involved giving Chinese consumers a more in-depth look at the raw materials, prompting a six-page promotion in the magazine that called Australian Merino wool “natural, renewable, and biodegradable.” The latest, though, moved more away from a focus on wool's link to sustainability, instead using an opportunity to celebrate the “the new age of the extraordinary modern woman.” At the exhibition, Woolmark linked “softness,” “style,” “versatility,” and “adaptability” of Merino wool with the adaptability, “elegance,” and “indomitable spirit” of China's female role models.
Jing Daily caught up with Pei for a quick chat at the event to get her insight on femininity and sustainability among China's consumers.
I didn't know too much about wool before having the chance to work with Woolmark, so after several collaborations, I can really say it was a fun experience working with the brand. Their fabric is really soft and really comfortable, and it's actually very versatile.
I was invited to Australia for a video shoot in a small, rural town outside of Melbourne. We went to a farm that had a lot of sheep, and I was taught how to shear the sheep. I really enjoyed everything.
Now I have a lot of friends who pay more attention to how to consume and behave in a more environmentally friendly way. For instance, if we go out for a drink, we try to bring our own mug, and when we go shopping, we try to bring our own bags. These are really small things, but it shows that among Chinese, awareness is increasing.
A lot of women nowadays are increasingly independent. There's a certain confidence to the way they carry themselves, and it's more and more obvious no matter what field you are in.
I like a lot of the looks that have a vintage feel, especially wide-legged pants.
I didn't know that much about it before, but actually it's a really internationally known event. This year, they invited three top international singers, Usher, CoCo Lee, and Charli XCX, and the models would walk out according to the songs. It was a good bridge between fashion and music. It was interesting, and really different than what I am used to.
Usually, I dress really casually, like a young boy! I like to wear easy pieces, like t-shirts and jeans.
* Interview answers were translated from Chinese.