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When it comes to buying a fashionable handbag, there’s one figure most young Chinese women turn to for advice – Mr. Bags. With millions on followers on China’s most popular social networks and many of the world’s biggest bag brands fighting to gain his favor, this 27-year-old really has the Chinese bag game on lock.
As a student of the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, Tao Liang (Mr. Bags’ real name) spent most of his free time shopping on Rodeo Drive. While most of his fellow Asian colleagues developed hobbies like playing basketball or video games, he couldn’t get enough of luxury bags. He went on shopping sprees with friends, educated himself on bag culture, followed the biggest trends in fashion and posted his opinions on the hottest bags on various social media. The son of financiers, Mr’ Bags never imagined his passion for bags would one day catapult him to the top of China’s fashion influencers, but that’s exactly what happened.
“My parents work in finance so they wanted me to do finance because finance people think that you only make money in finance; they don’t think of other possibilities. You know like children of doctors don’t want to be doctors? It was the same for me. I didn’t want to do finance,” Mr. Bags said in an interview with SCMP, last year.
The influential “bag whisperer” started sharing his thoughts and opinions about popular bags on Renren, a Chinese version of Facebook. His girl friends all shared his posts and his account kept gaining followers. Then, in 2012, Tao created his “Mr. Bags” Weibo account, followed by an account on WeChat, China’s all-in-one super app, and his popularity skyrocketed. He was still based in the United States at the time, but he posted in Chinese and became a huge deal in his home country.
You could say that Mr. Bags is just another influencer, and you’d be right, technically. Only he’s much bigger than most of the online influencers in the West. He has so much clout that when he he helped Givenchy sell RMB1.2 million ($170,000) worth of bags in a mere 12 minutes, just by posting about them on social media. Last June he set a new record, helping Italian brand Tod’s sell 3.24 million RMB ($455,000) worth of handbags on his WeChat shop in just six minutes.
Exane BNP Paribas ranked Mr. Bags 3rd on its list of most influential fashion bloggers, but when it comes to bags, no one even comes close to Tao Liang.