How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (2023)

How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (1)

Skip to contentSkip to site index

Margaret Zhang, an Australian-born influencer, got the top role at Vogue China in 2021, making her the youngest Vogue editor ever. Will Condé Nast’s gamble pay off?

Credit...Bella Howard for The New York Times

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

By Elizabeth Paton


Two years ago, when Condé Nast announced that Margaret Zhang would be the next editor in chief of Vogue China, many in the fashion media were taken aback.

For one thing, at just 27, Ms. Zhang was the youngest ever editor in chief of a Vogue title. For another, there was her unorthodox multi-hyphenate résumé as a photographer, consultant, filmmaker, model and social media influencer — with almost no magazine experience. Then there was the fact that Ms. Zhang, who was born to Chinese immigrant parents in Sydney, was an Australian who had never lived in mainland China.

Her appointment was a considerable gamble for Condé Nast, and specifically for its global chief content officer, Anna Wintour. China was, and is, a cornerstone of the luxury fashion market, responsible for billions of dollars of sales. It is an economic superpower with a complicated relationship with the West, and a place where censorship of the press is common.

It is also one of the most populous countries in the world (about 1.4 billion people), whose nationalism is helping reshape consumer culture and the retail landscape. Some Western fashion brands have faced strong reactions after angering the government over moves involving Xinjiang cotton or Taiwan.

Angelica Cheung, the founding editor of Vogue China, held the position for 15 years. Its next editor would need to have an ambitious vision, formidable connections and commercial and diplomatic savvy — a challenge for someone twice, or even three times, Ms. Zhang’s age and experience, let alone a foreigner.

How would it feel to step into a job like that, knowing how many people expect you to fail?

In Soho during London Fashion Week last month, Ms. Zhang, now 29, paused for a moment when asked that question. Petite, and currently with electric blue hair (she defines the periods of her life with its hues), she has been able to travel freely for shows since China lifted its strict lockdown earlier this year.

“I don’t mind people underestimating me,” Ms. Zhang said. “And I actually say that to people who look to me for guidance on how they can be taken seriously.”

She added with a grin: “It’s actually better when people underestimate you. Then you can prove them wrong. It’s all the more satisfying.”

New Beginnings

Ms. Zhang’s first issue, in September 2021, was called “New Beginnings” and was produced during quarantine by a group of women, including a little-known photographer, Hailun Ma. It featured a 19-year-old dance student from Beijing Sport University on the cover. Since then, Ms. Zhang, who now lives in Beijing, has continued plotting her vision for Vogue and what it can represent in 21st-century China.

Her handle on Instagram, where she has 1.8 million followers, does not say “editor in chief”; instead, it says “Film Director.” (She is working on a screenplay.) Little surprise, then, that one of her most high-profile projects is Vogue Film, a platform to support Chinese women in film. To date, it has produced 11 short films.

Then there is Vogue Open Casting, an annual model scouting program that will go worldwide this year, and the Chinese Craftsmanship Initiative, which facilitates collaborations between international designers, local design talent and traditional Chinese craft communities. Ms. Zhang has also spearheaded a mentorship program pairing rising Chinese designers with international names, like Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino.

Ms. Zhang’s magazine covers and the content inside are striking, rooted in bold saturated color and the candid style that initially found her fame as an influencer. A September 2022 digital cover series explored fashion’s collision with the metaverse; the splashy cover of the December 2022 issue, photographed by Ms. Zhang, featured the supermodel Liu Wen.

In China, male movie stars and influencers — known locally as KOLs — are often more popular than their female counterparts. Last month’s cover of the movie star Jackson Yee, in a modern interpretation of traditional Beijing Opera character that incorporated current-season fashion, was Vogue China’s first solo male cover star.

“When Margaret was hired, we were all very surprised,” said Emma Zhang (no relation to Margaret), a fashion director of Gusto Collective, which helps Western luxury brands navigate expansions in Asia. “But it is clearer now, when Generation Z is such a priority consumer, why they wanted someone with a younger perspective and visual style. Her approach is different from what came before. Many see it as a breath of fresh air.”

How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (3)How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (4)How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (5)How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (6)

It is a digital native approach that feels, to many in the fashion industry and elsewhere, young and experimental. There is a spotlight on emerging talent, while still revering aspects of Chinese heritage at a time of growing appreciation among many consumers for the country’s cultural history.

For Ms. Zhang, Vogue can no longer portray itself as an arbiter that dictates style and trends. That is simply not acceptable to readers anymore, especially in China, where Ms. Zhang described the audience as “15 years ahead in consumption of product, content and engagement.”

“The way we engage with our Chinese audience, and increasingly internationally, is by presenting Vogue as a way of seeing the world rather than just as an output platform of content,” she said. “Yes, we act as a curator, but what is the Vogue lens on life? What access and exclusivity can Vogue provide you with?”

“It’s a dialogue,” she continued. “Vogue in China plays a much greater institutional role than most other markets because it’s such a young industry and there’s so much new talent to embrace and encourage. At the same time there isn’t the same amount of baggage or preconceived notions about what Vogue should and can be. That’s really exciting.”

A Cultural Bridge

China is so vast that Ms. Zhang, who runs a team of 50, said the magazine must produce significantly more content than Vogue editions in other countries. Every social media audience matters — whether Weibo, Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) or the shopping platform Little Red Book — and has different requirements.

Print magazines, she said, are viewed more as coffee-table collectibles than disposable monthly compilations of runway trends or glitzy events. But she also has international markets in her sights, including the Chinese diaspora across the world.

Ms. Zhang, the daughter of a doctor and a professor who emigrated from Huangyan, in Zhejiang province, was brought up in what she called a “very traditional Chinese household” and attended Chinese school every Saturday. She trained as a ballet dancer and concert pianist before starting her personal website, Shine by Three, in 2009.

She then studied for a joint degree in law and commerce at the University of Sydney, which she completed once her fashion career began to flourish. She appeared on the cover of Elle Australia — the first Asian to do so, according to Condé Nast — and she said that when she was growing up, many Asian cultures were rarely featured in Western media, something that is shifting now.


How to Run a Fashion Magazine in China in 2023 (7)

While she is mindful of her core audience in China, she also wants to reach Chinese people living outside the country. She is also aware, she said, of the “appetite from non-Chinese people to learn about Chinese creatives and youth culture.”

In the past year and a half, she said, Vogue had repositioned itself as a cultural bridge — China to the world, the world to China.

Recently, Condé Nast has restructured its international operations, particularly how it syndicates content. Veteran names disappeared, replaced with a new generation handpicked by Ms. Wintour, who, unsurprisingly, speaks in glowing terms of Ms. Zhang.

“It was her digital fluency and knowledge of where fashion is headed that made Margaret stand out — her ability to speak to audiences wherever they are and to understand what’s relevant now,” Ms. Wintour wrote in an email.

“She’s a global thinker who knows that exciting personalities, designers and stories from China can travel across borders. Most of all, she knows how to speak to young fashion obsessives wherever they are, because she is one herself.”

‘The Execution Is Not There’

Not everyone feels that way. Last January, Sophia Liao, the former boss of Condé Nast China (who sued the company for unfair dismissal), published a series of stinging articles on WeChat about the direction of the magazine and Ms. Zhang’s appointment, despite having had a hand in hiring her.

“It was really dangerous to have such a person be the editorial director of Vogue China,” Ms. Liao wrote. “Why? Because she has been growing up and living in Australia and overseas, her understanding of China is too superficial and limited.”

Leaf Greener, a former Elle China fashion editor turned creative consultant, questioned whether Ms. Zhang was fluent enough in Mandarin to edit a magazine and said that many in the Chinese fashion industry remained skeptical. She asked whether a foreign point of view was what the Chinese market needed at this time.

“Margaret is trying to break the rules and bring fresh content to the table,” Ms. Greener said in a phone call. “She has some good ideas and is supporting young local designers, but sometimes the execution is really not there. In order to succeed, she’s going to need to fix what I see as a major cover problem and aim for diverse as opposed to chaotic styling. I don’t think it is where it needs to be to be a world-class fashion magazine.”


Ms. Zhang thinks her Mandarin skill is sufficient. (She conceded she speaks it rather formally, and lacks local colloquialisms but added that it had proved very useful for communicating with grandmothers in markets in Shanghai.) She also appears sanguine about naysayers, which she said she has grappled with her whole working life.

“I would be lying if I said that this job or the task wasn’t intimidating,” she said. “But I’ve become used to being the youngest person in the room. Often, I’m also the most creative in a business room, or the most business-literate in a creative room. Basically, the odd one out. But two years in, I feel like everything that I’ve learned in my career, and all of my different threads of skills, strangely converge for this role.”

Ms. Zhang is more reticent on topics like government censorship or the growing challenges of having money or status in China (usually core content for coverage in Vogue magazines outside China). The government is also cracking down on celebrity culture amid concern that it is poisoning the minds of the country’s youth — and that may be a reason to focus on emerging talent rather than the emerged.

But she also comes across as intelligent and curious, fizzing with opinions and pride — like a stage mom, she declared — that Fan Jinghan, her inaugural issue cover star, had walked for Burberry, and that the Chinese designer Susan Fang showed on the London schedule.

The Vogue opportunity, Ms. Zhang said, “came out of the blue and was not in my life plan, and it meant a total recalibration of what my goals were.”

“I would always have wondered what this experience would have been like if I hadn’t grabbed it, so I did,” she added. “Plus, as I’m sure you can tell by now, I love a challenge.”

Elizabeth Paton is a reporter for the Styles section, covering the fashion and luxury sectors in Europe. Before joining The Times in 2015, she was a reporter at the Financial Times both in London and New York. @LizziePaton

A version of this article appears in print on , Section


, Page


of the New York edition

with the headline:

Battling Perception at the Helm of Vogue China. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


Continue reading the main story


How do you get published in a fashion magazine? ›

How to Submit Work to a Fashion Magazine?
  1. Tell your shoot team that you intend to submit the work. ...
  2. Make a list of the magazines you'd like to submit your work. ...
  3. Follow the submission guidelines. ...
  4. Don't bulk email to a database of magazines. ...
  5. Show editors that you understand their magazine. ...
  6. Tell a story.
May 31, 2019

Are fashion magazines still relevant? ›

Despite the setbacks in numbers, fashion magazines are far from dead. Local fashion and style print titles like Frankie are continuing to cater to over 260,000 readers a year.

Does China have Vogue? ›

Vogue in China plays a much greater institutional role than most other markets because it's such a young industry and there's so much new talent to embrace and encourage. At the same time there isn't the same amount of baggage or preconceived notions about what Vogue should and can be.

How much does it cost to start up magazine? ›

Magazine start-up costs range from $100,000 to $1 million, depending on geographic circulation. Speaking of, will your magazine be a free or paid circulation?

How do I start a magazine legally? ›

How to Start a Magazine Checklist
  1. Create a business plan. ...
  2. Choose a business structure. ...
  3. Determine your business costs. ...
  4. Name your business. ...
  5. Register your business and open financial accounts. ...
  6. Purchase equipment for your magazine business. ...
  7. Market your magazine.

Is it hard to get published in a magazine? ›

Whether you're a full-time freelance writer or an aspiring essayist hoping to get published for the first time, the process of publishing articles can be arduous and labor-intensive. It takes more than a great story and distinct writing style to get your article published.

How do fashion magazines make money? ›

The single best answer how magazines make money is by allowing advertisers to use its unused space throughout the magazines, including the cover and inside front and back cover. It is quite normal for a full-page back cover to add to run several thousand dollars or more in renowned publications with national coverage.

Can you make money publishing a magazine? ›

Advertising is one of the most popular methods to monetize an online magazine. Publishers can use various ad types, including display ads, native advertising, sponsored content, and affiliate marketing, to make money. Display Ads: Banner ads on a website's pages are known as display ads.

Why are magazines dying out? ›

Over the past few years, we've seen print numbers decline with more people turning to digital media for their entertainment following the rise of online publications and the Covid-19 pandemic. Verticals like men's magazines have been hit especially hard by online competition such as Instagram.

What are the Big 4 fashion magazines? ›

The Big Four, sometimes referred to as The Big 4, is the name given in fashion to the four most notable Vogue covers; American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue France and Vogue Italia.

Why do new magazines fail? ›

Here are a few reasons why some publications fail: Faulty editorial judgement – producing a book or publication that is poorly written or too long or short; poor copy editing; breaching copyright or causing defamation.

What fashion is trending in China? ›

Waterproof fabric, hiking shoes, and functional wear are some staples for on-the-go lifestyles. Hence gorpcore's fast popularity in China in 2022. This momentum is likely to keep going, as more Chinese youth hit the road after two years of living under the country's zero-Covid policy.

What fashion style has become popular in China? ›

One of the most popular fashion trends in China, Intellectual Chic or 知识分子穿搭 has over 51 million views on the Chinese lifestyle platform. Like many of the styles on this list, Intellectual Chic is heavily influenced by vintage apparel but offers a more bookish and laid-back vibe.

What is the biggest fashion brand in China? ›

Hailan Home tops the ranking with 20.18 billion renminbi, or $3 billion, in revenue last year. Founded 25 years ago, the group owns a dozen brands catering to different groups of consumers who mainly reside in lower-tier cities in China. As of September 2021, the group operated 7,537 stores worldwide.

Is it profitable to start a magazine? ›

Starting a magazine business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful magazine business. Importantly, a critical step in starting a magazine business is to complete your business plan.

Are magazines still profitable? ›

The magazine industry is a rapidly changing landscape, and the statistics show that it is still a viable and profitable industry. While print magazines are not as popular as they once were, digital magazines are becoming increasingly popular and are helping to keep the industry alive.

How much do magazine owners make? ›

Average magazine publisher salary

Magazine Publisher salaries range between $43,000 and $120,000 per year.

How much is a magazine in 2023? ›

This rate of change indicates significant inflation. In other words, newspapers and magazines costing $8 in the year 1997 would cost $17.74 in 2023 for an equivalent purchase. Compared to the overall inflation rate of 2.46% during this same period, inflation for newspapers and magazines was higher.

Do I need to copyright my magazine? ›

Periodicals, Newspapers, and Magazines Copyright Overview

While you may not be winning the Pulitzer Prize, you do want to preserve the ownership rights in all your hard work. That's where copyright protection comes into play for a number of printed materials including periodicals, newspapers, and magazines.

How do I start my own magazine and publish it? ›

5 steps to create and publish your own magazine
  1. Step 1: Do your research. Before you get started, ask yourself the following questions: ...
  2. Step 2: Create your content. ...
  3. Step 3: Lay out your magazine. ...
  4. Step 4: Proofread, proofread, proofread. ...
  5. Step 5: It's time to publish your magazine!

How many pages must a magazine have? ›

To be succinct, there really isn't an “average” or standard number of pages for magazines. Magazines can range from 32 pagers to 212 pagers with everything in between. With that said, however, most magazines, whatever their overall page count may be, will have a magazine page count that is either divisible by 8 or 4.

How many pages does it take to make a magazine? ›

What is the minimum number of pages in a magazine? There is no set minimum number of pages for a magazine. You should probably aim for at least five pages to ten pages, however.

Who owns fashion magazine? ›

FASHION is a Canadian fashion magazine published by St. Joseph Communications. Established in 1977, it is currently based in Toronto (with satellite offices in Vancouver and Montreal), publishes 7 issues a year, and has a total readership of 800,000 (Vividata Fall 2022).

What does a fashion editor do for a magazine? ›

Fashion Editor responsibilities include:

Deciding on story ideas and themes, along with the editor-in-chief, to meet audience preferences. Liaising with photographers, models, makeup artists and costume designers and choosing photoshoot locations. Overseeing layout (artwork, design and photography)

Where I can sell my magazine? ›

Some of the popular platforms are Canva, FlipHTML5, Joomag, and Issuu. Once you've created your magazine, you can sell it as a subscription product with a recurring payment plan through an easy-to-use eCommerce website like Sellfy.

Can you make a living writing for magazines? ›

They can be lucrative gigs.

Some magazines don't pay anything at all… but some pay big. (Hint: Those are the ones you want to write for.) I've earned anywhere from $. 10 per word writing for trade magazines at the beginning of my career up to $2.50 per word penning articles for national consumer magazines like Health.

What is the main source of revenue for a magazine? ›

Advertising is the primary source of revenue for many magazines.

What do magazines pay writers? ›

Generally speaking, most print publications pay at least $1 a word—many $2 a word and up. (These types of freelance writing can also pay $1/word and up!)

What are the challenges facing magazines? ›

The biggest challenges our magazine clients are addressing include reducing mail costs, more effective pricing strategies, and digital transformation. The most pressing magazine industry challenge is rising postage, printing, and delivery costs.

What popular magazines no longer exist? ›

  • Hands-On Electronics (1984–1989)
  • The Hard Copy Observer (1991–2012)
  • Harp (2001–2008)
  • Harper's Weekly (1857–1916)
  • Harper's Young People (1879–1899)
  • Harvest (1980–1992)
  • HDI, CMP Media (1998–2001)
  • Healthy Kids, American Baby/American Academy of Pediatrics/PRIMEDIA (1989–2001)

Are magazines going out of business? ›

Whatever happens, one thing is certain: magazines are not going away anytime soon. The magazine industry is not dead, but it is evolving. With the rise of digital media, magazines have been struggling to keep up. However, there are still many people who enjoy reading them.

What is the world's most influential fashion magazine? ›

Vogue. This is arguably the most famous fashion magazine in the world – it tops all charts. Vogue was first published in 1892 as a weekly newspaper that slowly turned into a fashion magazine.

What is the biggest fashion magazine in the world? ›

Vogue fashion magazine helps you keep updated about the latest trends ongoing and future trends in the fashion industry. Elle Magazine is an Indian edition of French origin known as Elle, which is known to be the biggest fashion and lifestyle magazine in the world.

Which country has best Vogue? ›

U.S. The British Vogue, launched in 1916, was the first international edition, while the Italian version Vogue Italia has been called the top fashion magazine in the world.

Does keeping magazines loaded ruin them? ›

Generally, Loaded Magazines Are Fine

According to, it's generally fine to keep magazines loaded without ruining them. This is the consensus among notable gun experts who've voiced opinions on this topic.

Is it worth keeping old magazines? ›

Most any older periodicals can have some value depending on how many people want it. As an example, to those who gather sports memorabilia, finding a copy of the first Sports Illustrated magazine published in 1954 can be a real treasure. They easily retail for thousands in excellent to mint condition.

What are the weakness of magazines? ›

Weaknesses include:

difficult to build frequency. does not generate much impact at any one time since reach builds slowly over the issue period.

How many pages is a fashion magazine? ›

To be succinct, there really isn't an “average” or standard number of pages for magazines. Magazines can range from 32 pagers to 212 pagers with everything in between. With that said, however, most magazines, whatever their overall page count may be, will have a magazine page count that is either divisible by 8 or 4.

What does a fashion magazine consist of? ›

Fashion magazines are the most well-known and easily accessible source for readers to learn current trends. Their main purpose is to disseminate fashion news, styles, and trends to the reader.

How do you monetize a magazine? ›

Outsourced CMO ⭐️ Marketing Consultant…
  1. Create advertorials for your new services encouraging signups or trial offers.
  2. "Stage Swap" a magazine article with someone else who has a show.
  3. Sell the magazine on your website.
  4. Interview your top prospects in your magazine to get your "foot in the door"
Jan 14, 2022

How do magazines get funding? ›

When you buy a copy of any magazine at a newsstand, your financial contribution to the magazine itself is generally very, very small; the lion's share of the cover price actually goes to the distributor. Generally speaking, the primary source of funding for magazine publishing is not sales, but advertising.

How much does a magazine cost 2023? ›

This rate of change indicates significant inflation. In other words, newspapers and magazines costing $8 in the year 1997 would cost $17.74 in 2023 for an equivalent purchase. Compared to the overall inflation rate of 2.46% during this same period, inflation for newspapers and magazines was higher.

What makes a magazine successful? ›

Successful magazines offer a sense of familiarity and consistency to their readers. It should be easy to find particular sections, segments, or regular features, so make sure they're always on the same page and perhaps contain consistent visual elements which allow readers to quickly find and identify them.

How do I work for a fashion magazine? ›

Here are a few tips that can help you find a job at a fashion magazine:
  1. Take advantage of internships. ...
  2. Reach out to your favorite magazines to inquire about opportunities. ...
  3. Begin building your portfolio early in your career. ...
  4. Tailor your resume or CV for the position. ...
  5. Continue developing your skills. ...
  6. Prepare for your interview.
Dec 30, 2022

What are the 7 elements of magazine? ›

10 Most Important Elements of Magazine Designing
  • Headline. It is the most important element of a magazine layout design. ...
  • Introductory Paragraph. ...
  • Body / Body Text / Body Copy. ...
  • Bylines. ...
  • Sub-headline / Subhead. ...
  • Pull Quotes. ...
  • Captions for Images. ...
  • Section Head / Running Head.

What type of paper are fashion magazines printed on? ›

Paper Stock: Magazines typically utilize relatively thin stock paper, which helps to reduce bulk and save money. For the inside pages, magazines normally utilize 80 to 90 GSM paper, with a stronger cover stock for the cover.

What is fashion magazine called? ›

Vogue fashion magazine helps you keep updated about the latest trends ongoing and future trends in the fashion industry. 2. Elle Magazine. Elle Magazine is an Indian edition of French origin known as Elle, which is known to be the biggest fashion and lifestyle magazine in the world.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated: 07/11/2023

Views: 6030

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.