Angelica Cheung is resigning as Vogue China’s editor-in-chief. Cheung announced the news on her Instagram account today and a memo was reportedly sent to staff at Condé Nast China to announce the move, which also said there were no replacement candidates ready to be confirmed yet. Condé Nast has confirmed the news of her departure.
“I will be leaving Vogue China after putting out the 15th anniversary issue, which I feel is a significant landmark and a fitting time for me to start a new phase in my career,” Cheung writes in her post, adding that her last day will be December 8.
Cheung’s departure is a pivotal moment for Vogue China and the country’s wider media landscape. The news is trending on social media site, Weibo, with netizens and industry names calling it the end of an era. Self Portrait’s Han Chong, Net-a-Porter president Alison Loehnis and singer Karen Mok are among those who have wished her well.
Though many have reacted with comments of surprise, the news is expected and only natural, said Dan Cui, stylist and former fashion director at GQ China. “People are treating this like a ground-breaking shift [but] Cheung has been at Vogue China for 15 years, the influence she has created and know-how she has accumulated will continue to be valuable no-matter what role she chooses next. This is the start of something new.”
Since launching the title’s first issue in 2005, Cheung has played a leading role in the development of China’s fashion industry. Her tenure at the publication has mirrored the growth of her native market, which McKinsey & Company forecasts will account for 65 percent of the world’s luxury spending heading into 2025.
Under Cheung’s leadership, Vogue China’s flagship title has grown its print circulation to 2 million, and counts a social media following of over 23 million. Steering the brand to become one of China’s most prominent fashion media outlets, Vogue China now spans three sub-brands: Vogue China, Vogue Film and millennial-focused Vogue Me.
Young Chinese are not consumers that are easily influenced by preaching to them.
While serving as global brands’ gateway into the Mainland market, Cheung has redefined how the fashion media engages with its 400 million millennials. When Vogue Me released its first issue, 30,000 limited edition copies sold out in six minutes.
“[Young Chinese] are not consumers that are easily influenced by preaching to them,” Cheung said on stage at BoF’s VOICES event in 2017. “The way I do Vogue and the way I do Vogue Me is totally different…the goal is still the same, but the way to communicate that message needs to change, needs to adapt.”
Cheung’s departure is symbolic of changes happening in the broader market. She is the last of a crop of top fashion editors to step down, having helmed the country’s best-known title during the rise and decline of print media beginning in the early 2000s.
“Now the three big fashion editors have resigned, I’m curious what Cheung will do next,” wrote fashion blogger and journalist Ava Foo, who, like other commentators, wished Cheung well in the next stage of her career.
First Harper’s Bazaar China lost Su Mang, then Shaway Yeh left her position at Modern Weekly and Elle China lost its long-term publisher and editor-in-chief, Xiao Xue. Cheung was the last of this generation of highly influential editors who acted as power-brokers in the market, championing Chinese models and designers — from Liu Wen and Ju Xiaowen to Huishan Zhang and Masha Ma — and acting as arbiters of what was fashionable for a rising generation of fashion and luxury consumers in a country thirsty for information and guidance.
But this power dynamic has recently changed and helped to reshape the local media landscape in the process. Top titles have struggled to retain their influence in a country that has shifted drastically to digital-first ways of consuming media. Young people in China, like those elsewhere in the world, are most likely to get fashion and beauty information from their favourite KOLs, as influencers are called locally, and niche social media accounts on WeChat and Xiaohongshu rather than storied fashion magazines. Whoever takes over Cheung’s post will be charged with steering the publication through what is sure to be a turbulent period for legacy media in China.
What that looks like remains to be seen. “For the industry, I don’t think this necessarily means that a new crop of editors will be completely focused on digital content, it’s not that simple,” says Cui. “I hope that the future of fashion media will be multifaceted and appeal to what people want, where they want it.”
The next crop of top fashion editors, Cui reckons, will need to widen their horizons. “They’ll have access to more resources and information than we did. I hope they’ll take the industry to the next level.”
Additional reporting by Casey Hall.