Self-Portrait Promotes Zhao Liying to Global Brand Ambassador

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ALL EYES ON ZHAO: A year after Self-Portrait tapped Chinese actress Zhao Liying as a regional face for China, the brand is elevating her role to a global brand ambassador.

Hailed as the queen of daytime TV drama in China for leading a slew of major productions, Zhao is steadily entering the arena of the film industry. Her recent portrayal of a hearing-impaired mother in famed director Zhang Yimou’s Lunar New Year box office hit “Article 20” has earned her universal praise on Chinese social media.

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Her name has been mentioned 5.1 billion times on Xiaohongshu and she has more than 90 million followers on Weibo.

“I am always looking for women to represent the brand who my customer can identify with and connect to. Given the strength of our business in China, and our large community in the market, partnering with an ambassador who transmits the values of our brand was critical,” said Han Chong, founder and creative director of Self-Portrait.

“I have been a fan of Zhao for a long time. She’s an incredible actress who is able to transform herself into such a broad range of roles. This is something that really attracted me to her, and made me realize how perfect she would be to embody the Self-Portrait woman who I often describe as multifaceted and utterly unique. Our customer is not just one note — she is worldly, confident, soft, powerful and effortless. And Zhao Liying is all of those things, and more,” added Chong, who forged a partnership with the Shenzhen-based Ellassay Group to comanage the brand’s Chinese assets in 2019.

The brand now has 60 stand-alone stores in China across key luxury retail hubs like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, with plans to open more in the near future.

“I am really energized about the opportunities we have in newer markets for Self-Portrait, like China,” Chong said: “It’s a market and customer I care deeply about, and which I understand very well. I am fascinated by the speed at which the market is growing, and at which the customer is evolving. We are constantly listening to and monitoring the market so that we can adapt our business strategy, content and product offering accordingly.

The London-based Chinese Malaysian designer noted that the appointment of Zhao is an example of how the brand’s marketing efforts are becoming more bespoke and dedicated to the Chinese consumer, whereas globally the brand uses models with huge online followings like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and Irina Shayk.

“I think it’s critical to engage with our communities in an authentic way that is relevant and well understood, and through the appropriate channels and platforms,” he added.

Zhao’s announcement was accompanied by the dedicated campaign “New Ray,” with Zhao sporting key looks from the brand’s spring 2024 collection.

Later this week, Chong is cohosting a festive free-flow dinner with British Fashion Council chair Caroline Rush in London’s Chinatown for a double celebration of the 40th anniversary of London Fashion Week and the arrival of the Year of the Dragon in the Lunar calendar.

“Lunar New Year is an important time for me and with London being home to so many creatives from the Asian community, it feels like the right time to formally honor and spotlight our heritage alongside the British fashion community. Having an official moment on the calendar to celebrate our diverse cultures and time-honored traditions is very special, and shows the importance of London as a creative melting pot,” he added.

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