How exactly does one break into the fashion industry? And what does a career as a content creator and stylist really look like? From business school to fashion week, Vogue Scandinavia sits down with Alice Wang to find out more about crafting a successful career in fashion
“It's funny to recollect, it's the first time I’m really doing this”, says Alice Wang, the Oslo-based content creator and stylist. It's a mere four days after Wang’s 30th birthday – the timing couldn't be more apt for her ruminate on her journey into fashion. "Looking back, I realise I could have done things differently but I’m not regretful. My decisions brought me here and made me who I am”, she smiles.
As a multidisciplinary creative, just this month the 30-year-old maven has partnered with Saint Laurent, Loewe, Apple and Cos to create imagery, while also overseeing creative direction for Cathrine Hammel. What sets her apart in the over-saturated industry of content creation is her ability to capture a feeling through photography and fashion, and bring permanence to what would otherwise be a fleeting moment.
While it's clear that creativity runs through her veins, Wang’s path into fashion was somewhat serendipitous. “I always thought I was going to be a lawyer, doctor, or an accountant,” she explains. “My mum presented me with these career ideas, I was very academic and especially good with numbers.” When she moved with her family from America to Norway, her numerical mindset and ability to speak English, Mandarin and Norwegian confirmed her choice to take a Bachelor's degree in shipping management at BI Business Academy in Oslo. “A corporate career felt like the smart choice but I never thought to myself ‘What is that I actually want to do?’ I never had the chance to explore other paths because I was so focused and determined on the choice I had made.”
Coincidentally, it was during this time, towards the tail-end of her Bachelor's degree in 2015, that Wang created her Instagram profile. “Instagram was all about selfies, sunsets, dogs and VSCO Cam”, she points out with a laugh, “it was very different back then. It also wasn’t seen as a money-making opportunity like it is today, and I loved being one of the first girls to represent streetwear”.
During the height of the Yeezy fascination, Alice won her very own pair in a raffle competition which, in a rather bizarre turn of events, seemingly edged her further into the influencer sphere. “I was such a sneakerhead so I posted a photo of my new Yeezys, and suddenly the photo, and my profile, gained so much attention. This was my foot into starting my profile”. While her aesthetic then was very different to her now classic style, Wang always possessed the ability to create innovative outfit compositions and use angles to take compelling imagery. “That’s the one thing that's always stayed the same, and my love for oversized silhouettes”, she tells us.
At this point in time, Wang had amassed an impressive 20,000 followers and was collaborating with international brands, but it took a little more convincing to deviate from her original plan. “After my Bachelor's I began a masters degree in finance. As a valedictorian, I received a stipend from my school to use towards my tuition, so again it felt like a natural progression. But then when I was invited to Paris Fashion Week and experienced the industry for the first time, everything changed.” The trip convinced Wang to finish studying to pivot into fashion. “I didn’t know how, but I knew fashion was what I wanted to do.”
“I began working two retail jobs to maintain a living while working on my Instagram. Then one day out of the blue, pop artist Fanny Andersen sent me a message asking if I could be the stylist for her music video. I had never done this before, she just liked my style from what she had seen on my page, so I used my own wardrobe to style her.” It wasn’t long before Julia Bergan and Chris Holsten followed, and Wang became a trusted stylist for artists and actors alike.
Wang highlights the importance of showroom visits and networking, one of the many intricacies of being a stylist. “Visiting brand showrooms and PR agencies to borrow clothes is part of the job. By doing this, I could naturally introduce myself. Many of these people worked in PR so they noticed I had an Instagram presence. Eventually I received more invites to local events, where I met more people, expanded my network and opportunities.”
Wang moved to Shanghai in 2019 to pursue a new start and expand in the industry, but her stay was cut short due to Covid. It was the notion of brand building that motivated her. “At this time I was freelancing and saw the opportunity as a chance to network and build my brand for the future. My friend was expanding their brand in Shanghai and needed an office space, and suddenly there was this genius idea to rent a large space together, and I could use half the space as my apartment.”
Fast forward to now, Wang has planted roots in Oslo and established herself as a valuable asset in the Nordic fashion industry. Though proud of her Norwegian home, she possesses an enduring curiosity for travel and culture, and a sincere tenacity for her work. It seems the key to her success is determination, patience and hard work. “Abroad, even in Stockholm and Copenhagen, there’s a pool of creative minds. There’s this energy of wanting to connect with like-minded people”, Wang explains.
Many are attracted to the idea of free products and attending events, it's easy for people to get carried away. It's important to not lose sight of your creative vision.
Although Wang focuses on building her brand as a content creation, the role of stylist is naturally included in her work, she reflects. “When you’re hired as a stylist for an editorial or photoshoot, it can sometimes take up to eight months to see the final result. Sometimes there's also a mismatch in the process of creating images. Each person has a different focus. But when you create your own content, the images are ready in a matter of weeks, and your role extends from stylist to art director; you have full creative autonomy”.
When asked for Wang’s advice for someone hoping to pursue fashion, her answer is plain and simple: do it for the right reasons. “Many are attracted to the idea of free products and attending events, it's easy for people to get carried away,” she explains. “It's important to not lose sight of your creative vision.” Shadowing an experienced stylist or seeking work as an assistant is a great way to learn.
Looking to the future, Wang hopes to evolve with her style and edge further into the realm of creation direction. “Since last summer I've handled creative direction for Cathrine Hammel with full autonomy. I love every part of the job, from booking models, selecting the photographer, styling, directing the shoot, selecting the imagery. I can’t hide behind someone else's vision, so having full creative freedom and being so involved, it feels invigorating.” Nevertheless, Wang is charismatic and collaborative, “there's a big obligation to satisfy, and you naturally want to give the support back”.