Red Star

Hu Bing

The former athlete is now a fashion icon


Born in Hangzhou, Hu Bing, 44, was a former member of the Chinese national rowing team. However, when he suffered a back injury at 19, he had to cut his athletic career short. In 1991, Hu entered a competition for young models and won the top prize. Success quickly followed as he became the first Chinese male model to walk the international fashion runway, with his image since been used by brands like Dunhill, Valentino and Gucci.

Why is he famous?

In 1996, Hu decided to pursue a career in acting. He got his big break in 1999, appearing as the lead actor in the hugely popular TV drama Love Talks. His heartthrob status was further solidified with the back-to-back successes of TV dramas like Pink Girls (2001) and Saying Goodbye (2002).

In 2010, Hu was also nominated for Best Actor at the Rome Film Festival for his performance in The Back, a film produced by French director Luc Besson. Besides that he’s also a part-time singer.

Why is he in the news?

The British Fashion Council – a body that promotes UK fashion internationally – has recently tapped the Chinese supermodel to be its first global style ambassador. Hu’s role is to champion British menswear in China, one of its biggest markets.

“Hu Bing has enormous influence and has in-depth knowledge about fashion in the China market. To have an international ambassador from China is going to be critical to the development of the London menswear fashion week,” says Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ, a style magazine.

Getting a household name to be an ambassador is only the first step for British designers to successfully tap the Chinese market. Hu himself concurs that a lot more needs to be done. He tells CNN: “The Chinese like British brands, but they don’t say ‘British fashion’. They just say ‘European fashion’. Sometimes they mix up London, Paris, and Milan, even when the fashion is all totally different. I need to do a lot of work. I have a responsibility to present London fashion as London fashion.”

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