Style Insider – Jing Zhang

By   /  September 26, 2014

Jing Zhang has one of the most coveted roles in fashion in Hong Kong. As the fashion editor of South China Morning Post, Zhang has her pulse on the fashion scene. Besides interviewing designers and reporting front row at fashion weeks in Paris, Milan and London, her feature stories gives Hong Kongers an insider look into the fast pace world of ever changing fashion trends and happenings. Having studied in London, she returned to Hong Kong and started her editorial career, working her way up the ranks to managing editor at WestEast Magazine before landing the role of fashion editor at SCMP. Between meetings, boxing lessons and a ton of emails, Zhang took a moment to chat about fashion.

MIKIMOTO pearl necklace

MIKIMOTO pearl necklace

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I moved here as teenager with my family because my father got a lecturing job at HKU. I bolted for London as soon as I could at 18, did two degrees completely unrelated to fashion at University College London, and worked for a while in an Eastern European film company before deciding to come back here to work for WestEast Magazine, a bi-lingual fashion and lifestyle glossy.

I am an editor because…

I like seeing the grand narrative created by style, and how fashion relates to how we construct our identities. I enjoy the design aspect, but also reporting on and critiquing parts of the industry that should be held into account. Editors curate a specific message, both visual and verbal, on our pages. And with fashion becoming such a powerful form of communication today, I feel that the job is getting more relevant as consumers become more engaged.


 A typical day for me…

Depends on what stories I’m working on. Usually I get into the office, review, commission and edit stories for the Life pages in the newspaper or content for Post Magazine. I might go for meetings with writers, PRs, colleagues or designers throughout the day and sift through a gargantuan mountain of emails whilst cursing technology. After work, I love boxing once a week at DEF with my colleague and our trainer, or else it’s grabbing dinner and a glass of red with friends and decompressing through laughter. At home, I listen to Etta James, watch John Olivier youtubes on repeat, harass my cat or read news websites. Sometimes I make dents in my books (currently Richard Dawkins and Brett Easton Ellis). I have this bad habit of sleeping with my phone in my hand or next to my head, so I can poorly field communication from different time zones whilst in a state of semi-consciousness.

What I love about my job…

The constant learning is the best part. Fashion in this region is changing so rapidly. Freshness comes from interviewing a range of people from Dior CEO Sydney Toledano to Riccardo Tisci, Chinese couturier Guo Pei, a sustainability expert, or migrant workers in a Zhongshan denim factory. You constantly absorb new industry information and build on your frameworks of knowledge and meaning. Oh, and I get to touch some very beautiful clothing.


Style is…

Being able to charm through fashion, to convey some cohesive meaning through your clothing. It’s something you develop through experience and experimentation and not something you learn overnight from instagram. I also like that famous quote by Coco Chanel: “Fashion fades, only style is forever.”

Describe your style…

I like mixing up modern masculine and feminine styles. I’m a fan of experimental and structured jackets, classic white shirts, leathers, monochromes, minimalist sandals, biker boots or Vans-style flats, offset by louder accessories like the Rockstud Valentino range. For evening events, red lips, dark and slinky minimalist dresses with a leather jacket thrown over. Otherwise I’m super casual, on some island in big shades, vintage style swimmers and cut off denims.

MIKIMOTO pearl earrings

MIKIMOTO pearl earrings

Favourite stores, locally and globally …

Corso Como in Milan is a treat as is Liberty’s in London and online, Independent Hong Kong boutiques like the9thMuse, Squarestreet or Kapok are refreshing. As a shopper, I’m not the biggest fan of identikit megamalls and enjoy seeking out treasures at flea markets and design stores.

Top Asian designers to watch…

Masha Ma who shows at Paris Fashion week, FfiXXXed and VMajor are both interesting and Shenzhen based. Yiqing Yin is French Chinese and one of the most promising young couturiers today. My current local favourite is Jourden.


How can Hong Kong become a fashion hub for Asia?

Our commercial powerhouses need to work with schools and the government to create a long term agenda and institution for the future of fashion in Hong Kong. There needs to be a cohesive collaboration between those 3 sectors to create something similar to the British Fashion Council or the CFDA. A viable option is yet to appear.

There is so much money being spent in the city on fashion, but little is going into support of local talents and industry. Despite the remarkable amount of entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, it still needs to turn from a consumer society into a more creative one.

Spaces created for design-led product, exchange of fresh ideas and new kinds of business models will encourage fashion mavens to stay, instead of moving overseas.

Lastly, and arguably the most important, people in fashion, including consumers, could to be more fearless. A certain amount of irreverence and daring is crucial to the blossoming of any creative city hub.

Important fashion titles and organisations championing Asian designers…

Well, my answer is a little obvious. I think that at the SCMP, we do a great job of reporting on local and Asian fashion, we’re very committed to giving coverage that is balanced and not just based on tokenism, because fetishizing regional fashion too much leads to a cultural cul de sac long term. I.T has cool Japanese and Korean brands as well as owning their own Hong Kong labels. Spaces like PMQ and initiatives like ‘the HUB’ fashion fair are also doing their part.


Special moments…

  1. Going to Jordan with friends for my 30th birthday last year was spectacular, there are fewer things more perfect than riding camels in the desert or a panoramic view of Petra. I was in my 60s style sunglasses, patterned headscarf, cool silky prints and travel bag by my friend Elaine’s LABryinth label. Toms shoes for walking.
  2. Mowing the lawn, watching the sunset and feeding the pigs on my friend’s estate in the Lake District – country life is beautifully grounding and I’m now a total convert. I wore An inexpensive yellow cotton summer dress and white knit sweater.
  3. Visiting old temples and snorkelling with stingray in Tulum, Mexico, where my friend got married. I wore a retro low-V black one piece swimsuit and denim cut offs – always a winner on beach vacations.
  4. Seeing Dolce & Gabbana’s debut Alta Moda couture collection in Sicily. From exploring Mt. Etna, watching a Bellini opera in an ancient amphitheatre with the likes of Isabella Rossellini, to designer interviews and seeing Stephanie Seymore almost fall over whilst dancing with Domenico Dolce, the whole affair was fantastical. I was in Dolce & Gabbana, naturally.
  5. Anytime I’m in the Napoli or Amalfi coast, because really, who can fault “la Dolce Vita” in those moments?” Here I’m with my fashion girls in Capri, wearing Sergio Rossi flat sandals, black Tods mini-bag, Cos bracelet and a romantic long floral number.
  6. One of the most honest, interesting and revealing interviews was with Riccardo Tisci at the Givenchy headquarters in Paris. I wore a collarless white shirt from Cos, black Givenchy handbag and Squarestreet jewellery

Most cherished piece of jewellery …

I was given a pave diamond, white gold Bulgari B.ZERO1 ring when I was way too young to afford such a thing. I wear it everywhere with a paralyzing fear of losing it.

Jewellery I own…

I’m always wearing my set of 4 white Margiela cuff rings. I have a tiny silver Tiffany’s locket and a great pair of triangular turquoise and gold earrings by Israeli brand A Peace Treaty that I bought from the9thMuse.

MIKIMOTO pearl necklace

MIKIMOTO pearl necklace

Photographer Justin Lim

Hair by Maggie Wu, DAZ Hong Kong

Makeup by Patrick Havegheer for Beauty Advice


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