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from the sartorial streets of Shanghai

Playtime brings you a series of articles focusing on different fashion markets around the world!
We begin our journey in Shanghai, with Mr. Zhang who has created a distinctive niche for himself and his daughter, Yuka, in the rapidly evolving fashion and influencer industry.

1. What makes you interested in fashion? When did you decide to embark on this fashion journey?

Because of my family, I developed an interest in fashion at a very young age, and now I pass it on to Yuka. My parents gave me a lot of inspiration in fashion since I was a kid. In the 1980s, everyone wore the same color in China, but my parents asked our relatives abroad to help me buy clothes and leather shoes. So I was always noticed and praised when I walked down the street. I enjoyed this feeling. I enjoyed the feeling of being noticed for what I was wearing.

I always wore loose casual clothes when I was a child. In the past 10 years, I have defined my dressing style and started my fashion journey. Many people ask me what my dressing style is, I don't feel I'm limited by any type, I have my own style. I don't want to and will not follow the trend, so my clothes every year will never have any fashion elements of that year. My clothes can be worn forever, and they will not duplicate most people's.

Old fashion and vintage are my labels.

2. What was the most difficult part for you at first?

Anyone who loves fashion always has a transition period to find the right clothes for themselves. I started to define my own style 10 years ago, but I still couldn't find the clothes that suit me best. This requires both money and time. The hardest part, of course, is that I can't find clothes that suit me in Shanghai. If there are clothes that I like, they cost twice as much as the ones from abroad. So I buy clothes every year when I travel to Japan or abroad.

3. In this digital age of online social networking, how have you found your value in the dizzying online world? Are there any shortcuts on the road to self-worth?

I have always been very grateful to Instagram. I used to work in clothing production and I occasionally posted photos of me and Yuka on Instagram about 5 years ago, and I've been getting more and more likes. I was discovered by a photographer by chance and that brought me and Yuka into the fashion industry. I met a lot of artists and had a lot of opportunities for photoshoots, I opened my own agency company in China and signed Yuka, I also have agency companies in Japan and Spain. I know exactly where I fit in. I'm very picky about all the shooting. I always say "people who love art don't chase money, and people who love money can’t do art well." I've turned down shooting opportunities that were higher than the normal price many times because I despised the brands. They were too ugly. We don't just want to be models, we appreciate beautiful things.

I had a few requirements for Yuka's shooting: One, no shots over four hours; two, no shots without respecting the children; three, no shots with more than two girls in the scene; and four, no shots with the same outfit that other children had already filmed in.

Depending on what you want, if being famous and making money is a reflection of your self-worth, Then your shortcut is to not being picky about brands, to keep shooting, and soon I guess your value will be realized. But our value is to build up Yuka's future life. She likes painting and photography, so we show her good-looking clothes and beautiful pictures, we donate part of the salary after each shooting, and sometimes I'll help her make the clothes that she draws, that's our self-worth.

4. It must be very difficult for Yuka to juggle school and modeling while still enjoying the simple pleasures of childhood. How do you balance this? Amazingly, Yuka also excels in her studies, do you have any parenting tips you'd like to share with us?

I've been working on a book that's going to be published all over China next year. The book is about our family's parenting methods. Because everyone is curious about Yuka's time arrangement and why she is so good. Yuka is currently attending school in China, one of the most stressful countries to study in, and goes to one of the best schools in the country. That's a huge pressure for her. But we don't put a lot of pressure on Yuka, as long as she stays in the upper-middle level. Maybe it's because Yuka has strong concentration and loves to read, so she tends to have excellent test results. In addition to studying, we also let her take many hobby classes, such as baseball, tennis, swimming, ballet, and so on. The requirements for Yuka in hobby classes are still quite high. Sundays are Yuka’s playtime. We only take commercial shooting once a month and will not participate in the second shooting in a month.

5. Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Or do you have a favorite anime movie?

I like all Disney characters
The little mermaid

6. Does Yuka interact with her classmates during the holidays?

Yuka has a lot of friends because she is fluent in Chinese, Japanese, and English. She has English-speaking classmates in school, and her mother's friends are all Japanese-speaking people, and my friends all speak Chinese. She would meet up with her classmates and friends on Sundays.

7. Do you have a private list of your favorite brands or designers?

  1. Mackintosh
  2. Drakes
  3. Globe trotter

Some of Yuka's favorite brands are:

  1. Belle Chiara
  2. Buho
  3. Bobo Choses

Clothes designed by Yuka and made by me

Discover more of little Yuka's stylish life on instagram: @aisin.j

Mr Zhang & Yuka