emerging talent

How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023

Two years ago, when Condé Nast announced that Margaret Zhang would be the next editor in chief of Vogue China, many in the fashion media were taken aback.

For one thing, at just 27, Ms. Zhang was the youngest ever editor in chief of a Vogue title. For another, there was her unorthodox multi-hyphenate résumé as a photographer, consultant, filmmaker, model and social media influencer — with almost no magazine experience. Then there was the fact that Ms. Zhang, who was born to Chinese immigrant parents in Sydney, was an Australian who had never lived in mainland China.

Her appointment was a considerable gamble for Condé Nast, and specifically for its global chief content officer, Anna Wintour. China was, and is, a cornerstone of the luxury fashion market, responsible for billions of dollars of sales. It is an economic superpower with a complicated relationship with the West, and a place where censorship of the press is common.

It is also one of the most populous countries in the world (about 1.4 billion people), whose nationalism is helping reshape consumer culture and the retail landscape. Some Western fashion brands have faced strong reactions after angering the government over moves involving Xinjiang cotton or Taiwan.

Angelica Cheung, the founding editor of Vogue China, held the position for 15 years. Its next editor would need to have an ambitious vision, formidable connections and commercial and diplomatic savvy — a challenge for someone twice, or even three times, Ms. Zhang’s age and experience, let alone a foreigner.

How would it feel to step into a job like that, knowing how many people expect you to fail?

In Soho during London Fashion Week last month, Ms. Zhang, now 29, paused for a moment when asked that question. Petite, and currently with electric blue hair (she

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  • June 24, 2023