Revolutions have to start somewhere, right? Vogue China has made history by naming their new editor-in-chief as 27-year-old Margaret Zhang. Making her the youngest editor in chief in Vogue history across their 26 international editions. Despite her young age, Zhang has an extensive cv which will bring a new perspective to Vogue. You may find her directing a film or front row at fashion week.
She joins a magazine parent company founded in 1892 that launched internationally with their expansion to British Vogue in 1916. The magazine continues to have a massive influence globally – whether we like to admit it or not. The current line-up of editors-in-chief across Vogue range in ages 28 to 71.
Vogue China currently has the largest circulation with around 1.6 million copies compared to British Vogue with around 73,000. American Vogue has 1.2 million. In 2014, renowned photographer, Mario Testino, described Vogue China as “the world’s most important Vogue”. Zhang has a sharp vision of how she wants to spend her time at Vogue China.
As she puts it, “it’s not about having a green issue here or a sustainability conversation there. It’s about how you practice those principles, and it’s the same thing with diversity. I think everyone who appears in Vogue China should be someone people can look up to in a really substantive way and who are driving innovation, regardless of what industry they’re in.”
Because we are living in a digital age, Zhang brings experience in just like that. Beginning her career in fashion with a blog at age 16, she, sets a digital precedent for young faces in the fashion industry. Vogue is not strictly a fashion publication anymore and focuses on lifestyle as well.
Zhang, who has 1.2 million Instagram followers, had an international upbringing. She has a degree in law and commerce and is co-founder of a consulting agency. She is charitable. She loves to cook; she has taken up Muay Thai. Zhang is extremely fashionable from her blue hair to her eclectic street style; she makes up the ultimate cool girl.
While most of us are not trained in Thai boxing, we all feel like we can relate to her many interests in some way. Speaking on her appointment Zhang says, “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.”
Young editors signal the future of Vogue globally? The difference with Zhang and others is that she epitomes her target audience. Ms Zhang knows what readers will want to see. Whether Zhang has had enough journalism experience or will suffer from not climbing the slippery ladder of Conde Nast, starting off as a fledgeling assistant the traditional route to power remains to be seen? And will other glossy publications follow suit?
Whoever eventually wrestles 71-year-old Anna Wintour from her 33 year tenure at American Vogue will have to be a strong fighter. Will Zhang prove yet to be A Devil in Prada?