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Thursday, March 6th 2014

Exclusive Interview: Margaret Zhang

Known for her innovative approach to fashion and ability to mix pieces in a truly unique way, Margaret Zhang of Shine by Three is one stylish—and busy—girl. Since the spontaneous creation of her blog, the student, photographer, and Harper’s Bazaar Australia contributor has quickly made a name for herself in the fashion industry with her fresh and fearless interpretations of the latest trends. We spoke with Zhang about how she stays organized amidst the chaos and the inspiration behind her blog.

Margaret in a Veronica Beard blazer, DKNY x Opening Ceremony tee, GOLDSIGN jeans, 3.1 Phillip Lim sandals, and carrying a Jerome Dreyfuss bag.

Shopbop: What inspired you to start a blog?
Margaret Zhang: Growing up, I was all about the performing arts (dance, music, drama) and visual arts (painting, film, photography), so when chemistry and economics hit high school, I was pretty uninspired to say the least. Shine By Three was a late-night decision to share my artistic inspirations online. For about 6 months I thought I was the only one, but then I found all these other “fashion bloggers,” and realized I’d been living under a rock.

SB: Shine by Three is very well-rounded—the fashion is fresh, the photography is compelling, and the writing is hilarious (besides being informed). What do you love most about the process?
MZ: I love creating an experience and conversation for my readers. Over time, they’ve evolved to have strong opinions about everyday issues, fashion or otherwise. They’re not afraid to write essay-style comments to defend or oppose something I’ve photographed or written about, which I think is fantastic. I make a point of shooting almost all of my own photos, too, which makes the process very much my own. If I mess up, then I reshoot until I have exactly what I’d envisioned for the piece or editorial. Over the past year, I feel like social media has changed the blogging landscape a lot, so this year is about building different tiers and categories of content to keep myself inspired.

SB: Between blogging, writing for Harper’s Bazaar Australia, and school, we’re guessing you stay pretty busy. What is a typical day like for you?
MZ: My creative life revolves around my university schedule. Fashion is flexible at the best of times, and thankfully, hardcore collections times when I need to be overseas don’t tend to clash with exam seasons. My day starts with exercise and missing my train to uni, and then it’s on to classes with meetings in between, an evening dedicated to books, writing, photo-editing and social media, and explaining to my dad for the millionth time that I do not, in fact, run an online store.

Margaret in an O'2nd Coat, A.L.C. shorts, Rochas booties, and carrying a Loeffler Randall bag.

SB: From layering skirts over pants to wearing tucked-in blazers as shirts, you are fearless when it comes to fashion. Which rules, if any, are you careful to follow, and which do you love to break?
MZ: Rule to follow: dress for your personality, comfort, and body—in that order. Rule to break: wear pieces as the designer intended—hold on one second while I wear a jacket as a skirt and a sweater as a hat.

SB: What is unique about the fashion scene in Sydney, and how is your blog influenced by Australian culture?
MZ: I think our perfect contrasts of beach culture, city life, and the beautiful, natural landscapes that surround Sydney have worked well with our geographic isolation to breed our own inspirations and ways of approaching style. For me, spending a lot of time by the ocean definitely changes the way I look at my daily wardrobe, and not just because of our higher temperatures—it’s inspired a relaxed, even masculine way of mixing and matching across seasons.

SB: What advice do you have to offer aspiring fashion bloggers?
MZ: Do not aspire to be a fashion blogger. Aspire to something bigger, and use your website as a means of getting there.

Margaret in a Parker sweater, Clover Canyon skirt, Rag & Bone jacket, and Rachel Zoe sneakers.

Check out Margaret's blog, Shine by Three.
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