If you ask Kwok Chan, Marilyn Agency's director of international scouting, the increasing popularity of Asian models isn't just a fad. Chan, whose agency represents the model Liu Wen, also discusses in Vogue's December issue why none of the most hotly demanded faces are Asian-American, saying: “The only way I can explain why there are no big Asian-American names is, Why are photo shoots done in some exotic locale and it looks like you’ve shot in someone’s backyard? Fashion is fantasy; it’s about perception.”
Shiseido Creative Director Dick Page believes the increase in popularity is due to economics, since in the global market, China, Taiwan and South Korea have made strong gains in recent years. And seeing more Asian models, according to Vogue China Editor Angelica Cheung, has encouraged Asian consumers to shift their standard of beauty. She explained: “Traditionally the Chinese favored a classic kind of beauty — big, round eyes, cute small mouth, a high nose, and very fair skin. The Chinese models who have made it internationally are not beauties in the traditional sense, so they are modernizing the concept of beauty in China. When I was growing up in the seventies, everyone wore a blue, gray, or green Mao suit—there was no chance for women to be glamorous or different. Now you see young Chinese trying to be radical by dyeing their hair blonde or blue, sporting tattoos. It is a combination of copying what they see is popular in the Western world and trying to stand out in a nation where almost all of the 1.3 billion population have straight black hair and brown eyes."
What does Liu Wen say? According to the model: “The challenge for me, and for Asian models in general, has been convincing editors, stylists, and photographers that we can have mass appeal. But Asian, especially Chinese, models have become a stronger presence. Just a season or two ago, there weren’t many models for me to talk with backstage in my native Mandarin. Now I usually have no trouble finding someone at any show.”