We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."
While some of us have read Kevin Kwan's jet-setting, designer label-stacked and no-budget-shopping books (and anxiously await for an adaptation of "China Rich Girlfriend," the second in his "Crazy Rich Asians" trilogy, to hit the big screen), others get to actually live a version of that fantasy existence — like Shanghai-turned-international influencer Anny Fan.
But in real life, Fan has proven herself by working her way up the fashion and media ladder. Back in 2010, she became one of China's first bloggers by starting a micro-blog on Weibo — essentially the country's Twitter and the second most popular social media platform — while holding down a full-time bank PR job. Fan steadily grew her following and expanded to longer-form posts on China's number one social media platform, WeChat, in 2014 and said goodbye to that office job a year later.
Since then, she's become one of China's top luxury influencers — or "KOL"s (Key Opinion Leaders), as the industry refers to them, because their clout creates extreme buzz and moves the needle with sales, especially in the country's luxury market. Fan has amassed nearly five million followers on Weibo and 48K on Instagram, which is officially blocked in mainland China, but important for brands and influencers in the country regardless (yay for VPNs).
The bilingual influencer partners with European designers, including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Prada and Miu Miu. Plus, with her cultural and e-commerce expertise, consults for Western brands entering the very competitive China luxury fashion landscape.
Fan, who now splits her time between New York and Shanghai, is going global. She's repped by Manhattan-based The Society Management, which also oversees the careers of Sami Miro, Liu Wen and Kendall Jenner. The influencer, model and stylist also regularly sits front row at fashion weeks around the world, most recently Michael Kors, Tibi and Tory Burch in New York and Gucci in Milan.
Fan is also a regular guest at the hottest, most VIP of events back in her hometown, like the Tiffany & Co. "Vision & Virtuosity" exhibition opening gala, where Fashionista chatted with the willowy influencer — clad in a crystal-embellished and power shouldered Alessandra Rich LBD — about where she finds her favorite jet-setting 'fits, how she defines Shanghai style and what she does when she outgrows here closets.
"I have two different types of personal style. One is very tomboy. I always like wearing flared long pants and very cool look and, on the other hand, I like to wear dresses: floral things and a very feminine look.
[My international lifestyle is about staying] comfortable. I really like wearing track pants on the plane. I have several from Thom Browne and Fendi. I also like track pants from Loro Piano because they have the best quality cashmere.
There's variety in Shanghai style. In China, [interest in current] fashion just began in recent years. The style is international because before we had either the very local or traditional Chinese style. In recent years, I think people are trying different things. Different new things and trying to figure out what feels better. So maybe in the future — maybe in three or four years — we will find out what kind of style is best for us. I want it to be strong and powerful women's style, like ... with shoulder pads.
Influencers are very busy, so we have very limited time to go out shopping. But I shop in stores during fashion week and I do a lot of shopping between shows. You can't buy Celine online — yes, I'm a very huge fan of Celine — so every time I go to Paris, I always buy at least 10 pieces from Celine.
But most of the time, I shop online. I like Moda Operandi, Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion. I don't really have a lot of time to browse, so I'm a very efficient online shopper. I'm also an impulse shopper and I don't take a long time [to think about buying something.] So normally in one hour, I can buy like 20 or 30 pieces.
I don't return, even if the size is wrong. I go to my tailor and make it fit. Right now, I save everything. But my my team told me that I should have a secondhand online store to sell it to my followers or to someone else who needs it for sustainable fashion. Because most of the dresses I wear once or twice and then I put it aside. Because you can't wear it many times for events or [photos].
I have three closets in my apartment. When all my closets are full of clothes, then I move to a new apartment. As for organizing, um ... my ayi helps me. In Shanghai, we call our [domestic] helpers, 'ayi.' She knows most of the brands that I buy. I think she is the most fashionable ayi in Shanghai.
I give her some of my stuff. She is my stylist sometimes because normally my apartment is a mess. I can't find anything. I need her badly."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Full disclosure: Tiffany & Co. paid for my flight and accommodations in Shanghai to cover the opening of the "Vision & Virtuosity" exhibition.