We have a soft spot for Tina Leung, who started her career in fashion here at Prestige, when she’d either strut through the office in style and stilettos, or turn up chill in torn denim and sneakers. Now look at her! A globally recognised street- style star and fashion influencer, she flits between the world’s style capitals, saying that home is Hong Kong, New York “and everything in between”.
Styling photo shoots, being photographed and collaborating with fashion brands on exclusive projects — from Topshop (with whom she launched a sneaker) and the affordable luxury of Michael Kors to Gucci and Bulgari — she signs deals with the designers in person. But next year there might just be a Tina Leung line.
“I’ve been thinking about a line of merchandise,” she says. “The Tina Leung collection? The TL Collective? I don’t know. A Tina Leung line of shoes perhaps or ready-to-wear maybe … I don’t want to put it on record yet till things are in place — but obviously I want to grow further from where I am and where I was.”
That trajectory is clearly worth studying. In early 2011, she set up her fashion blog, TinaLoves.com, posting random images of mood boards and favourite things. “I primarily did my blog to show my family and friends what I did all day. How my work evolved — this was for those especially in banking, my property friends who had no idea about my world or what I do,” she says. “It started off small and when Instagram came by, I loved it as I always took pictures and I’m a very visual person. I was an early proponent of it, but it started slow and steady — then suddenly the numbers began to grow.”
As we go to print she has more than 14,400 posts and 278,000 followers. “I never planned it,” she says. “There was no such thing as ‘KOL’ or ‘influencer’ back then — the words weren’t even in the vernacular. It was such an organic growth.”
What the numbers add up to is mega brands noticing her on social media and the influence she has on her followers. Last year alone, Leung was in the front- row of shows for Paco Rabanne, Gucci, Prada, Mugler, Miu Miu and Chanel. And to think it all began with Christian Dior. “I think I was choreographing a catwalk show somewhere in 2012 when Dior was the first to fly me over to Paris Fashion Week to see their collection. And I knew I belonged. I’ve been going ever since.”
So what does she remember of her time at Prestige? “It was the most intense and best year of my life. And I worked so hard, for so long — I did some crazy hours and wanted to quit every month!” she says, laughing.
“The biggest misconception about me is that all I do is fly around and attend parties. I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve put in the hours. I did the legwork. What you don’t see is the hours I spend working on my computer — Excel sheets and work plans don’t make for interesting Instagram posts. My message to all the stylists would be that it didn’t just happen overnight. You have to work for it.”
Does she miss the nine to five? “No,” she states categorically. “I’m an Aries, I’m a bird that needs to fly. Don’t pin me down anywhere!”
Accessories and boots: Leung’s own