After an intense bout of speculation, the rumors have been confirmed: Margaret Zhang is Vogue China’s new editorial director. At 28 years old, the Australian-born Chinese is the youngest to hold the title at any Vogue publication.
Condé Nast announced the news on Wednesday with chief content officer Anna Wintour commenting, “I am so delighted that Margaret is our new editor in chief of Vogue China. Her international experience, exceptional multiplatform digital expertise, and wide-ranging interests are the perfect combinations to lead Vogue China into the future.”
While Condé Nast calls her an editor in chief, under China’s publishing rules, that role is reserved for Vogue China’s local media partner. Her official title is editorial director in the masthead, the same as her predecessor Angelica Cheung, who launched and led the magazine for 16 years.
“Margaret understands the emerging trends of a new generation of Chinese and possesses the business acumen needed to leverage our data and insights across new digital platforms,” said Li Li, ceo of Condé Nast China. “We welcome her creativity and innovation in defining new media approaches and look forward to her bringing global fashion to China while taking Chinese culture to the rest of the world.”
“Vogue has such a legacy, with over 125 years — in the States, at least — of significant cultural gravity,” Zhang said. “This new role is an incredible opportunity to combine my background, my skills and my interests.”
“There’s a lot of context about China that is lost; often it’s looked at as this one monolithic entity, as opposed to a country of individuals and innovations,” Zhang continued, “I think Vogue China has an immense platform to communicate about those individuals not only to the world but to its own citizens. There’s a huge opportunity to champion local talent — in film, music and the fine arts, in addition to fashion — and bring it to a global stage because it’s such a recognizable brand and so trusted.”
Zhang is in Sydney where she grew up, but plans to move to Beijing as soon as the pandemic allows.
Her parents moved to Australia from Huangyan, a city in China’s Zhejiang province. Her father was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Sydney. It was her passion for ballet that led her into fashion.
“I was very lucky that my brother and I had such a diverse upbringing and had great support from our parents. We both grew up learning dance and that’s where our interest in fashion comes from.”
Speculation around Zhang’s getting the top job at one of the most profitable Vogue editions had been swirling since early January, as first reported by WWD. Influencer Bryan Boy first hinted at the choice to the public on Jan. 13 by tweeting “Congratulations Margaret Zhang — if she is the new Vogue China Editor in Chief!”
At that time, Condé Nast responded “Nothing to announce yet @bryanboy. We’re finalizing our Vogue China Editor-in-Chief decision and will share with the world soon.”
Her appointment represents a new era for the Condé Nast title. Zhang is young, digitally savvy, and possesses a global point of view. Her take on fashion, womanhood, and many other social issues might be different from China’s mainstream values. But one can argue that’s precisely what Vogue China needs to stay ahead of the game and present things from a perspective that can inspire China’s young and affluent fashion consumers.
This move also gives a clue about what Wintour’s vision of a global Vogue is going to be about, possibly one that includes more multimedia and is digitally focused. Zhang is not a complete stranger to Vogue China. She produced two digital covers for the launch issue of Vogue Me in 2016.
Zhang made a name for herself in the fashion industry with her blog “Shine by Three,” in 2009 which she launched when she was 16 years old. Since then, she developed a career as an influencer, photographer, writer and consultant. She was the first Asian face to front the cover of Elle Australia and The Face magazine appointed Zhang as creative director at large for Asia for its relaunch in 2019. She counts 1.19 million followers on Instagram and 36,970 fans on Weibo.
But in recent years, Zhang had shifted way from fashion to work on her first full-length feature film and Zhang had begun introducing herself as a filmmaker first and foremost. One big draw for Zhang to accept the job offer might have been gaining film industry access with Vogue China’s supplement Vogue Film, as it provides a great platform for her to raise capital and awareness for her future projects.
It’s understood that Wintour has been interviewing candidates with an overseas Chinese background in the past months to succeed Cheung, who is now a partner at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital’s China branch.
A source told WWD that Wintour reached out to Hung Huang for the job, but Huang turned down the offer. Another source said Wintour has also reached out to several former Vogue China editors to fill the vacancy, but none agreed to do so in the end. A third source said Zhang was one of the three candidates that made it into the last round of job interviews.