Let's start with your background. Where did you grow up?
My mom is originally from Hong Kong and my dad is Canadian-Chinese. I went to school and university in Canada. I had gone to pre-med with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, then worked in biotechnology. But I was miserable. I just felt really unfulfilled spiritually, creatively, mentally and physically — at every level. I was yearning for something greater because I’ve always wanted to lead a life less ordinary. One day, I just had an awakening in my cubicle and that was when I started my blog. Shortly after, I left and moved to Beijing. That started the travelling circus I call my life.
Influencers get a lot of flak, mostly from people who aren’t direct audiences. How do you face that perception, especially when you first started out?
In the very beginning, you don’t get paid and people don’t even give clothes in return. If you dared to ask somebody to pay you for a written article, they would laugh in your face. They would say: “You’re a blogger.” And think that you’re an uneducated girl writing in her parents’ basement. Even if you are writing in their basement, that doesn’t mean that you’re unintelligent. I now work with brands, and they do pay me – and I’m very open about it but those collaborations only happen when I feel like there’s an honest partnership. Do I wear the brand? Do I like what they do? Is the voice right? Is the tone right? I’m not going to do a drive-by post, where I just feature one thing.
There are new designers who are actively making their stance on war, feminism, diversity and extremism known. Do you think that’s something that will continue or is simply of-the-moment?
It’s really hard to say, right? I mean my hope is that it continues because we live in a politically-charged world, especially now. When I went to last season’s shows in Paris and especially in New York, a lot of them were making statements. Some were obvious with slogans on T-shirts, some had female power as themes. Unfortunately, fashion has this cliché of being saccharine and inconsequential. I do understand why and, maybe in the grand scheme of things, it’s true. But we also have to recognise that these people reach the masses now with social media. Without social media, would Demna Gvasalia’s work be famous? If he was doing this 15 years ago, taking the reins at Balenciaga or for his own work, would that have had the same impact if that wasn’t for social media?