Fashion critic Tang Shuang is the next designer to be featured in the Jing Daily community of individuals who have helped build the booming fashion industry in China. This section features industry leaders who contribute to national and global fashion communities, from consumers and behind-the-scenes employees to business leaders and influencers.
Writer Tang Shuang’s sharp mind has inspired fashion enthusiasts in China for more than a decade and has earned him 455,000 followers on Weibo. Since the start of his media career, Tang has not missed a step in delivering his unique take on the fashion ring, making his China the answer to fashion critic Suzy Menkes.
Tang, who cut his teeth in the media business Modern weekly in 2008, started her career as a fashion editorial assistant despite a lack of fashion experience. But she quickly caught on and, over the next five years, was promoted to partner and then editor after leaving. Outlook magazine at Chinese magazine issue.
During this time, she also founded a now defunct multi-brand concept store called The Backroom and contributed to Chinese versions of the New York Times and the Fashion company. After brief terms as editor-in-chief at Instyle China and assistant editor at Vogue China, Tang launched The Future Of Chinese Fashion: an ongoing video series that shines a light on the Chinese fashion industry.
All three episodes explore the boom in Chinese designer brands while demystifying vast supply chains to the public. In total, they’ve garnered almost a million combined views since it premiered in October.
In view of this important engagement of media veterans in China’s evolving fashion industry, Daily jing spoke to Tang about the fashion publishing business in China, its future, and what’s on the horizon.
What motivated you to pursue a career in fashion media?
When I was an undergrad student, I was drawn to French culture, especially literature and cinema, but not much to fashion. Then I started my job in the “Living” category at Modern weekly, which is a mixture of [covering] lifestyle and fashion. These years have been a golden age for media in China, and I have worked with a number of talents from which I have benefited.
Back then I was doing everything from styling to writing because there was a lack of feature editors. On the other hand, I enjoyed the opportunities I had to interview various creatives and leaned into pitching and writing substantive stories.
How would you define your role in the fashion industry?
From my early days in the industry, I have considered myself a freelance fashion critic. I became better known as a media professional, despite my other roles as a store owner or brand consultant. But I write continuously, whether it’s for magazines or my channels on WeChat and Weibo.
Continuous leadership shifts are disrupting the fashion magazine industry in China. What do these changes indicate about the future of the sector?
This change did not happen overnight; instead, the symptoms of leadership turbulence appeared some time ago. The global digitization of China’s media industry is irreversible as print publications lack loyal readers. In the age of new media, business development roles are needed to create advertising opportunities. At the same time, the power dynamic between local teams and their publishing headquarters abroad is constantly evolving.
The most notable development in China’s digitization is that audiences display stronger reading preferences on mobile platforms than in the West. However, I don’t think the current digital content of Chinese fashion magazines can replace traditional content, other than high-resolution photos, which points to a significant dilemma for local fashion magazines. They don’t push any boundaries or keep content consistent between print and digital publications. To be fair, I haven’t seen a lot of changes in the way publishers present features since I entered the industry. Yet this change is tied to the survival of independent fashion magazines in China.
The capabilities of fashion media extend beyond publishing. How do collaborations like think tanks or creative agencies shape the industry?
These are not new things. When I was at Modern weekly in the late 2000s, there was a customer service chain. The main change I see is the need for a magazine’s greater capacity for creativity and production in collaborations, as today’s content is launched not only in magazines, but also on the channels of brands. [previously, print production was only published in magazines.] The quality of the production must therefore be aligned with the digital campaigns, which means that they must be good at video production, filming and writing.
As the fashion publishing pioneers leave their posts, do you think the younger generations can take over or does it create a vacuum?
I wouldn’t say it’s a loophole. As the privileges of media titles continue to dissolve, the era of highlighting an editor in fashion media may be over. It is unfair to say that today’s young talent is insufficient. Because the profession is evolving, the emphasis is now placed on the editorial navigation functionality. The public may therefore not know who took the helm.
Why was The Future Of Chinese Fashion made as a video and not, say, a series of written articles?
I think video can tell stories better and engage audiences more fully. Plus, it’s also an overwhelming trend in social media today. But also, the video content related to fashion in China lacks variety and diversity, which has motivated me to redefine words in pictures. I really wanted to start the project when I was working for Vogue China. It’s a scene that I have been following and that I have been exploring for a few years.
In terms of reach and distribution, how would you compare articles to videos? And how has the reception of your documentary videos been so far?
Articles can be distributed and reposted in a relatively short period of time, while videos, especially medium to long videos, take longer to reach audiences. Articles typically convey more focused arguments, which can grab immediate attention and spark conversations online, while videos are more neutral and present facts or incorporate diverse perspectives.
Feedback from insiders and netizens has generally been positive so far. I have built a group of loyal viewers who know my writing style. Their only concern is how often I update, as it takes a lot of effort to put together the interview and research materials.
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