7 Minutes with street style star and entrepreneur, Yoyo Cao
Yoyo Cao is no stranger when it comes to striking a pose without hesitation—even in the midst of crossing a busy street. The #FROW regular is Singapore's latest (and arguably the most popular) street style maven, with an acute style acumen that has rendered her a favourite on the streets during fashion week. Cao has plenty of endeavours tucked under her belt: She is a fashion designer and co-founder of fashion label Exhibit, and currently has a team of creatives who man her blog, Yoyokulala, now repackaged as a platform for all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. In a span of 7 minutes, we ask the fashion influencer what her style essentials are along with her thoughts on the street style scene these days:
1. How would you describe your style in a sentence?
I always like to say that I'm a minimalist with a twist.
2. What is one item that you have a soft spot for and would buy very frequently?
For some reason, I always end up buying a lot of white t-shirts and vintage denim.
3. A current fashion trend that you are so over?
Rather than striking it out as a "trend", if you can wear something old or overrated in a fresh new way, then there's no need to be "over" it.
4. What are your thoughts on the #NoFreePhotos phenomenon that happened during the SS18 season?
These street photographers work extremely hard to get the perfect street style shot, so I think that recognition should be given where it is due. The fashion industry is a network with so many interconnecting branches—we should all support each other!
5. As a fashion week regular, what do you love about fashion week and the experience of it?
The shows, for sure. It is always so thrilling to see what my favourite designers have planned every season. There's so much anticipation from the moment the first look comes out right down to the final look.
6. What are your thoughts on the street style scene at this day and age?
It's so vibrant with a whole medley of personalities, and it is a constant on anyone's Instagram feed. From the marketing perspective, I do think that it is an effective advertising tool, because what you see on the runway can be worn in so many different ways, and I think that accessibility appeals to many people—whether they are in the fashion industry or not.
7. How do you think the street style scene has evolved since you first started out?
I think it's still so full of energy! People are definitely more open to mixing luxury pieces with high street and mass market labels now than before.
8. You’ve been in the industry for many years now—what are some of the stereotypes of street style folk and the fashion front row crowd that you’ve heard and would like to rectify?
I think it's the same as what people outside the industry think of people who work in fashion – that it looks glamorous. I do agree that it is glamorous, but it is still a job at the end of the day and we work hard at it as anyone else in other industries, if not harder. Attending shows is part of our work, as is going for a string of appointments on a typical 12-hour fashion week day. Still, it's an experience that I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. Sometimes when I'm at a really good show, I still experience those pinch-me moments.
9. One thing in your closet that is an absolute classic that you love?
Definitely a crisp, tailored white shirt.
10. What is one piece of style advice that you can give to budding fashion enthusiasts?
Don't be afraid to try out something, anything! Give it a go if you're not sure, but remember to go for what looks good on you, and not what you see on someone else or in pictures.
11. Who has been your biggest muse and inspiration throughout your career?
My parents. My mom was the first person to introduce me to fashion and she is still so chic. Her style is minimal and comfortable, but she has an eye for impeccable tailoring. Both my parents are such hard workers, but they're also the sort who aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zone and to pursue something that they've set their heart on.
12. Who is one designer you’d love to have a conversation with?
Phoebe Philo. I've loved her work since day one.
13. What were some of the challenges as a self-taught designer?
I didn't have formal fashion design training – I was trained in business – so I had to learn the technical aspects of clothing design from scratch, and through trial and error. I'm so grateful for the feedback I have received from my customers, because that only helps us to be even better.
14. What is an important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur and designer?
To never take anything for granted, to always be grateful and if you want something, work hard for it. Don't wait for it to fall on your lap.
15. What was the proudest moment of your career?
Definitely my recent feature on Women's Wear Daily. It happened on my birthday! Best present ever.
16. What do you wish to see more in the fashion industry?
To focus less on competition and more on supporting each other and building each other up — to be more of a real "community" than competitors in the same industry, in a nutshell.