MEET R PEOPLE: FASHION EDITOR JING ZHANG
You’ve interviewed hundreds of designers and written to millions of consumers. How can people cultivate their personal relationship with fashion?
Well there's that old Coco Chanel saying "Fashion fades but style is forever", so I think curating your personal style is very important. Don't blindly follow trends or whatever a social media celebrity is wearing. Think about how certain items make you feel - fashion can be quite powerful.
How did your upbringing influence how you see the world of fashion?
I was born in China in the 80s at a time where there were no "brands" per se, but my mother was always the most stylish, beautiful woman in any room and dressed in the most amazing way. That taught me that it's not about what you wear or where you shop - it’s all about style. Spending time in the UK, especially in London, really brought street fashion and individualism to the fore for me. Hong Kong is all about brands and luxury, and - honestly - it tends to be less innovative or daring in terms of fashion. However, it has been a great place to learn about the pervasive power of the fashion business.
What made you become interested in sustainable fashion?
When Hong Kong's wasteful fashion practices (and landfills) were brought to my attention, I started researching the global industry. Visiting factories, which are making efforts to be more sustainable showed me that change is not difficult.
You once wanted to become an ‘undercover’ garment worker. Why was that?
I wanted to work at every level of the clothing production supply chain, from cotton picker to factory garment worker to shop floor. It's probably not possible to really go 'undercover' - it's just an idea I had because as a fashion editor I mostly just deals with the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to delve beneath.
What lifestyle and fashion changes have you made on a personal level to become more sustainable?
I've been buying a lot less in my 30s than when I was in my 20s. I never throw garments in a bin now, I always donate them to a charity shop, clothing recycle bin or pass them on to others who might want them. I in turn buy from pre-owned fashion stores.
What suggestions for how people can get involved, which online resources to use, who to follow on social media, books to read to help take steps towards a more sustainable way of life?
I don't want to give a go-to guide, but everyone should be researching their own consumption habits, from food to fashion, more.