Interview with Kicki Yang Zhang
Are cool fashion and fair manufacturing mutually exclusive?
Of course not, but unfortunately most companies are only focused on profit. They encourage people to buy more because it’s so cheap. You’re standing there in a Primark store and you think, “Oh, 5 euros for a shirt is nothing, I can grab that too.” Quantity over quality. In the end you have a full closet and you still don’t know what to wear. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I’d be happy to pay a little extra for more fairly manufactured clothing and to make fewer, more carefully considered purchases.
How far does your vegan lifestyle go?
I’ve been a vegan since I was sixteen. I don’t buy clothing made from leather, wool or down products, and I only buy cosmetics that have not been tested on animals. Thanks to the internet, it’s super easy to find out nowadays whether something has been tested on animals. I’ve made mistakes before, but you just learn from them. For instance, I still have some old leather shoes from before. I wouldn’t throw them away, because that doesn’t make any ecological or economic sense to me.
I started learning about veganism at school. It started with one of those films designed to scare you away from meat, with footage from the slaughterhouse. After that, I consciously decided to stop consuming animal products, mostly so I could do something good for the environment. I don’t have a fundamental aversion to eating meat, but I hate the industry behind it.
How did you start blogging?
I was posting pictures of outfits on Facebook and pictures with friends, and lots of people started asking me, “Where did you get XY?” “What did you use to dye your hair?” etc. I started the blog so I wouldn’t have to answer them all individually, and I sent people there whenever they had questions. The blog kind of evolved into a diary for me. After I graduated from high school, I wanted to try doing something new. Looking for a new platform, I became a “YouTuber.”
Your content on YouTube and Instagram is original – different from other influencers. Where do you find the inspiration for your videos and outfits?
*I’m not consciously thinking, “I want to be different, cooler and more original than everyone else.” I think it’s a shame when everything is a competition. I don’t really care whether a video gets more clicks or fewer, or if one Instagram image has more likes than another one. Of course I’m happy if it’s well received, but I always just do what I feel like doing. You can especially see that on my YouTube channel. I don’t specialize in any one thing – I post vlogs about makeup, food, fashion, videos where I talk about my experiences, and sometimes videos about drawings and art or anime series that I like.
I get inspiration for my clothing on Instagram. I follow a couple of people I think are cool, and I like to be inspired by them. But ultimately, what’s important to me is whether the clothes are comfortable and I feel good in them. I always pick things based on my gut feeling, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re brand-name items or 5-euro flea market finds.*
What message are you trying to convey to your followers, or do you just want to entertain them?
I do try to add some kind of value with my videos. I want to inspire people to try vegan food instead of steak sometime, to be productive and creative, to build a positive body image and self-confidence, to lead a healthy lifestyle, but also to let yourself have supposedly “unhealthy” things every so often and forget about the stuff that stresses you out for no good reason.
What are your plans for the future?
4 years ago, my plan was to become a chemical engineer. Today I’m uploading videos and pictures online. I always go with the flow a little bit and try to kick open new doors. Who knows what will happen in a few years. My plan for the future is to be happy. It sounds pretty cheesy, but it’s true.