If you were to search “Singapore street style,” chances are Yoyo Cao is the first name that pops up.
Cutting a striking figure at fashion shows with her signature straight locks — usually tucked neatly into her shirt collar — Cao’s blog Yoyo Kulala has become a must-read for the island’s fashion-minded. A designer in her own right via her label Exhibit, the following she keeps between the two accounts of her store and her personal one now approaches 300,000. Last year she became the first digital influencer to appear on the cover of Elle Singapore. But the latest feather in her cap is a new collaboration with Matchesfashion.com which saw her styling 12 shoppable looks for the British e-commerce platform, putting her in the company of Garance Doré and Leandra Medine, among others.
The realm of Yoyo keeps on expanding too; her blog is currently on the hunt for a stable of writers, videographers and columnists to grow the site. Here, WWD chats with Cao about growing her blog into a larger business, Instagram clichés and, of course, dressing for the Lion City’s all-year-round tropical heat.
WWD: What does your typical day look like?
Yoyo Cao: My schedule varies quite a lot from day to day. Some days I have shoots, some days I have back-to-back meetings, some days I have events. It changes when I’m overseas on work assignments, too. But on a very regular, non-event, non-overseas day, I’m usually at meetings.
WWD: Do you do everything yourself for social or does a team help you?
Y.C.: I’m involved very deeply in my work, but I do have a team to help me out, especially with the web content and my brand Exhibit.
WWD: How would you distill the Singaporean style aesthetic?
Y.C.: It’s largely centered on comfort, particularly with the crazy heat we have. It’s quite funny, actually — when the temperatures dip to 24 degrees Celsius [75 degrees Fahrenheit], you’ll see us taking our jackets and sweaters out because we rarely get to wear them otherwise. The Singaporean style aesthetic has some ways to go, but we’re getting there.
WWD: Singapore has a reputation of being a country of malls. Do you think that’s a fair description of the local shopping scene?
Y.C.: Definitely. We have malls everywhere. We’re very used to having all the boutiques in one place. While it is convenient, it makes one appreciate the standalone boutiques you see in Europe or New York a lot. I think those can be quite beautiful.
WWD: Who are your favorite people or accounts to follow right now?
Y.C.: National Geographic (@natgeo)! It’s nice to have a breather in between all the fashion content on my feed. I’m also very entertained by @angelicahicks and her punny drawings.
WWD: What are some Instagram clichés you’re sick of?
Y.C.: Nothing that comes to mind, really. I do think it’s important to be responsible with your content, especially if you have a lot of young people following you.
WWD: How different is your online persona to how your friends would describe you?
Y.C.: My Instagram feed itself is largely a space for me to express myself creatively, whether it’s an outfit, snaps from my travels or collaborations, so it’s quite “serious” in a sense. Because of that, I try to balance it out with the kookier, behind-the-scenes stuff I post on Instagram Stories. That one is where you get to see the persona that my friends are familiar with.
WWD: What’s next for the business? Is Chinese language content something you want to explore?
Y.C.: We’re definitely going to focus on growing and capturing a larger audience. As for Chinese language content, perhaps not so soon, but never say never. I am on Weibo, though.
WWD: What are some career goals that you’ve yet to achieve?
Y.C.: I’m immensely thankful for how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. If you were to tell me that I’d be building a career out of Instagram six years ago, I’d have laughed it off. I’d definitely love and am working towards taking my label beyond the region and into the international sphere.