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Clothes maketh the blogger

Fashion blogging is all the rage in China and many attention-seeking fashionistas are totally into telling every shopping tidbit. And big fashion houses are rounding up these clothes horses. Michelle Zhang reports.

It's 10am. A bright and sunny Tuesday morning. Sammy is ready to start her day. The 24-year-old Shanghai native takes out a white Balenciaga motorcycle bag from her wardrobe and decides to spray-paint it gray by herself.

She has been thinking of doing it for a few days and thinks now is the time. Ten minutes later, the bag is given a special, novel effect, in a delicate palette of different layers of gray.

"Don't you think it looks much better now?" She turns around, asking for my opinion. And yes, it does look more trendy and chic, I'd say.

Sammy is one of the most popular fashion bloggers in the city. Her blog ( is visited every day by hundreds of thousands of local fashionistas, or fashionista-wannabes. Most of her published articles receive an average browsing rate of over 10,000.

Ever since she started Weibo (little blog), the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, about two months ago, she has already collected more than 6,000 followers. And the number is going up every day.

She takes a picture of the bag and posts it on her blog. "I work very hard on my blog and my Weibo," she says. "They are like my babies, my job and my life."

Nowadays, a growing number of Chinese young people enjoy taking pictures of themselves, recording their daily outfits and posting them on the Internet. They are often well-off, fashion-conscious people who are proud to open up their extensive, if not expensive, and meticulously arranged wardrobes to the world.

Sammy says that she is very good at taking portraits for herself, be it on the streets, in the parks, in the coffee shops or at the restaurants. She knows the exact angle from which she looks the best in front of the camera.

The slender young lady has a signature style, which she describes as "clean, edgy," and she enjoys mixing expensive coutures with high-street fashion pieces, and combining the latest collections with vintage pieces.

She reads international fashion blogs every day, from which she takes inspiration on what to look for while shopping. Her favorite shopping destinations are Joyce, a multi-brand luxury boutique in Plaza 66, and H&M.

Whenever she buys something and posts the pictures of her wearing it online, this "something" will be soon be sought after by her followers. Once she recommended a black shoulder jacket she bought from H&M's Huaihai Road M. store. The next day, her fans complained that the jacket in smaller sizes were sold out there.

Sammy and the other young, promising bloggers have also caught the attention of fashion companies, from luxury houses to high-street fashion brands.

Most recently, she was invited to the spring/summer 2010 fashion presentation of, a Hong Kong-based street fashion brand targeting the young generation, held in the city's tallest building, the Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong. The company invited five fashion bloggers to the show.

"We realized that they (fashion bloggers) are able to help us send the messages more promptly to a broader audience, compared with traditional media," says brand PR manager Vila Liu. "Their fans, at the same time, are exactly our targeting customers: trendy young people in their 20s."

Fashion companies have come to realize the huge power and potential of independent fashion bloggers and the Internet community as a whole.

'Personal magazine'

Last year, Burberry launched a website (, showing everyday people wearing the brand's legendary trench coats. The British fashion house invites photographers and trench coat owners around the world to participate and chooses the best of their shots for the site.

Earlier this year, Italian fashion powerhouse Benetton initiated "It's My Time," the first global online casting, which over 36 days attracted more than 65,000 participants of different nationalities (many from China), ages and styles. They were viewed on the website, or a collective blog (, by more than 4 million people, with around 60 million pages viewed - then the top 100 finalists were chosen by the vote of the online community.

Among the 100, 20 were selected to fly to New York to shoot with world-famous photographer Josh Olins for the autumn/winter 2010/11 campaign of Benetton, which will soon appear in the press, on the Internet and on billboards worldwide.

When Shanghai-born, Beijing-based freelance writer Miss F started her fashion blog two years ago, she didn't expect it would be so successful. Thanks to the popularity of her blog (, which has a recorded browsing rate of over 2.6 million, she is now on the guest list of all kinds of fashion events held around the country.

"At first I simply wanted to make the blog as a 'personal magazine'," she recalls. "As a freelance writer, I had the chance to meet a lot of people and see a lot of things. I'd write down some interesting details and personal thoughts on my blog, which I could not include in my articles for other publications.

"I don't tend to write a lot of good words about the events I'm invited to, unless they could generate some interesting topics that I'm really into," she adds.

Miss F is loved by her fans for talking extensively about fashion trends and mix-and-match tips that are practical enough to be carried into daily life. "Honestly, I've never thought of teaching people what to wear and how to wear," she says. "I try to reinterpret insightful topics I read from overseas publications such as WWD, Vogue, In Style and Japan's Spur, and to share it with the readers."

Unlike most fashion bloggers, Miss F rarely posts her own photos on the blog. Even if she does, she is always careful not to show her face.

"I hope my blog can be as informative as possible," she says. "However, I think it should be more focused on my thoughts and opinions than my personal images."

Hubert Chen, fashion editor from ELLE China, says fashion bloggers in China are not as "innovative" as their international counterparts. "Most of the topics they talk about in their stories are not original," he says. "Or they just post their own pictures without developing them into anything deep. To me, those are more like diaries of outfits rather than fashion stories."

Ying Yuan, head of PR for Angle Communications, the PR agency for fashion brands such as H&M, Mango and Emilio Pucci in China, points out that there are very few independent fashion bloggers in China.

"Most local fashion bloggers I know work for fashion publications in real life," she says. "They write about fashion because their job makes fashion part of their life. As far as I'm concerned, there are no independent fashion blogger in China like the 13-year-old Tavi Gevinson."


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