Margaret Zhang reimagines what it’s like to be cool

If Margaret Zhang were in Mean Girls, she would have been in the “Cool Asian” clique. That’s if she weren’t Regina George. With the bold colors she’s not afraid to wear and statement clothing she always seems to rock, it’s intriguing where she gets her creativity and confidence. For the cool girl who’s more than attitude, the two actually coincide.

For Margaret Zhang, being cool means being confident. She reminds us that each of us is unique, and that’s why the construct of “cool” is actually quite malleable. “They have these voices all the time, dictating what’s cool. You can decide what’s cool. You can be for anyone and everyone. Anyone can have a platform to voice their opinions.”

On creativity

On top of that, she reminds us that there’s no better place to exude creativity from than your personal experiences. “For me, it was more just like me writing about my perspectives on art, beauty and design and just really personal things that were a creative outlet for me. I think I just struck at a really interesting time where traditional publishing was challenged by individual voices; people looking for youthful and independent voices with individual opinions as opposed to a holistic brand. I unfettered opinions that weren’t really about any agenda; it was just me talking to a void.”

If you’re inherently creative, you don’t need people to teach you how to be creative.

“If you’re inherently creative, you don’t need people to teach you how to be creative. Not that I’m against fashion school or anything; there’s an educational element that, in terms of art history, can shift the [direction] of your brand and the knowledge that you can take to your process. But I think that if you’re inherently creative and self-researching, it is totally valid to do an education that challenges that.”

On representation

This strong individuality is especially interesting coming from someone who’s part of the minority in the industry. Battling the supremacies and biases, her words become more impactful particularly in our country where girls go through a similar experience.

I’m very proud to be Asian and I’m very proud to be female and I’m very proud to be young and operating in a space where perhaps there’s not a lot of young people.

“I’m very proud to be Asian and I’m very proud to be female and I’m very proud to be young and operating in a space where perhaps there’s not a lot of young people. I think Asia has had a really interesting fashion space for a long time and I think the great thing about Asia is the consumer is so advanced in many ways and is always into newness. I think in the west, there’s sort of this historical pressure, particularly in Europe, to consume fashion in a particular way. In Asia, there’s a shorter history in fashion and consumer retail so there’s always this novelty element where people are looking for the next thing, which I think moves it forward a lot more quickly.”

Pam Quiñones interviews model Margaret Zhang

On communication

When I was 16, there was no way that I would’ve thought that I’d end up in Manila and into such crazy places for my job.

With today’s technology as an entryway to communicating these things, she couldn’t find a more perfect timing. “I wouldn’t be able to communicate with all of you guys and be able to speak to as many people as you without the internet. When I was 16, there was no way that I would’ve thought that I’d end up in Manila and into such crazy places for my job. It really helps to be able to have a sounding board especially if somebody operates in my own creative headspace, it’s good to share my work and evolution. I’ve got so many people reading my website; it’s crazy to think someone is keeping tabs on what you’re doing from the other side of the world. It’s kind of an awesome time [for] everything.”

On open-mindedness

Perhaps technology also binds differences to debunk indifference. The youth is blessed with easier means of communicating things, so the next and vital step is to keep an open mind.

For me, in order to evolve I needed to have my hands on all kinds of creative disciplines.

“I am a very immersive learner, so I need to be amongst everything and constantly challenging myself in different environments; I want to move forward. For me, in order to evolve I needed to have my hands on all kinds of creative disciplines. Being a producer helps you become a better director, being a screenwriter helps you become a better actor, being a model helps you become better with lighting and how you interact with the subjects to get the best results. Not everybody needs to do that, sometimes it’s better to do less. But if you do challenge yourself even just learning a different skill and taking a day in someone else’s shoes; then it helps grow your world view and perspective.”

Photos by JP Talapian

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