How parenthood changed Vogue China for good

Angelica Cheung tells us how becoming a mother influenced what she publishes for her readers

Stockton Johnson

We meet Angelica Cheung first thing on a busy Wednesday morning and Condé Nast’s Wangfujing of office, where Vogue China is located, is still quiet. But Cheung, founding editor, has already been in meetings for the past few hours.

Over the past ten years, since the launch of the fashion bible’s Chinese edition, Cheung has fought hard to gain worldwide respect for her publication – glossies coming out of China generally have a hard time gaining a global reputation. By hiring internationally renowned models and photographers, Cheung challenged this pattern from the get-go.

'I thought, if I want my daughter to be like this, then I want my young women readers to be like this.'

Then a couple years after the birth of Vogue China, Cheung had a daughter of her own, which again made her reevaluate what she wanted to publish for young women readers. ‘The magazine became stronger after she was born,’ says Cheung.

She describes how after having Hayley, now nine years old, she began to think of life in a more rounded way. She wanted her daughter to be in charge of her own life and be able to solve her own problems with an optimistic approach. She wanted her to be a loving person and to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. ‘I thought, if I want my daughter to be like this,’ says Cheung, ‘then I want my young women readers to be like this. That’s when we started to introduce a lot of these qualities into the magazine.’

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Photo: Courtesy of Angelica Cheung / @angelica_cheung

Not surprisingly, Cheung discovered that young Chinese readers have an appetite for articles that tout the benefits of singledom or of waiting to have children until they’re satisfied in their career, in a country where young people often face pressure to marry and have children quite young.

Cheung proudly suggests that while Vogue China is chiefly a fashion magazine packed with editorials and beauty advice, it’s the most political edition of Vogue worldwide – and the readers seem to like it. As of February, it has a monthly readership of 1.8 million, according to Women’s Wear Daily. In March, the brand released the bimonthly magazine Vogue Me, geared towards the post-’90s generation who have a more individualised style. The Chinese audience was simply too large and diverse for one publication, says Cheung.

While tackling hurdle after hurdle in her busy career, the native Hong Konger says that it took a dedicated stance and effort to find a work-life balance that worked for her and her family. After having Hayley, Cheung stopped attending evening meetings and dinners so she could spend nights at home. Insisting on daytime coffees and lunches was no easy feat in a world where lavish parties and events take place most nights. ‘After six months,’ she says, ‘people began to realise I really meant it.’

Cheung’s position requires a lot of travel outside Asia, so the family made a commitment to travel together. ‘Once, I went away for three days and I came back and felt that Hayley changed a lot,’ says Cheung. ‘I just didn’t want to miss that. Hayley has been to Paris like 25 times.’

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Photo: Courtesy of Angelica Cheung / @angelica_cheung

She admits that she partially owes this ability to juggle to starting a family relatively late – she was nearly 40 years old when Hayley was born. But entering motherhood, Cheung feels she only became a stronger editor. ‘Being a parent makes you smarter and more understanding,’ she says. ‘You have better communication skills.’

While she says this was the right choice for her, Cheung insists there really is no right or wrong. ‘It’s really just about what suits you,’ she says. ‘That’s the Vogue attitude.’

Angelica Cheung’s Beijing picks

The fashion editor shares how she spends a family day in town

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Photo: Courtesy of Angelica Cheung / @angelica_cheung

Ritan Park is just the right size and so charming. Even with some construction lately, it’s still Beijing’s most beautiful park.’

‘We like Decathlon a lot; Hayley is so sporty.’

‘Poetry games, board games, dominoes. For an evening at home, we love playing games.’

  • 4 out of 5 stars