Aki Ang, fashion blogger from The Sleek Avenue. Image supplied.
Aki Ang is the chic fashion blogger behind The Sleek Avenue and her local blog is creating quite the buzz for her impeccable style and stunning images. Fashion blogging has come a long way over the past decade and Aki creates full photoshoots for her blog utilising her skills as an art director while acting as stylist, photographer and model simultaneously. Sounds like a lot of work right? It is, but her images are the best of any NZ blogger right now and we were keen to catch up with this savvy influencer.
What’s your background and what made you want to become a fashion blogger?
I was a fashion art director overseas for a couple years, working with some luxury retail clienteles in Singapore, Indonesia and Dubai. I was exposed to some amazing international designer brands and I love coming up with concepts and ways to portray the products.
Moving back to New Zealand, I really missed that lifestyle. One day I thought, why don’t I direct photoshoots for myself and put those experiences to good use. The Sleek Avenue was then founded in March 2016.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your blog photo shoots?
I am a detail lover and I enjoy playing with colours. For me, fashion (and photoshoot) is all about having fun.
I have always been very fascinated by the runway, the story behind the collection, the detailing and the craftsmanship. Sometimes I see something that I just have to have, regardless of its level of outrageousness or impracticality, that’s why some of my looks can be a little over the top or offbeat.
Photoshoot wise, you will hardly see me photographing myself against a white wall. I dress up to go somewhere, and I would love my background to accentuate my outfit or to tell a story.
You’re a pretty amazing multi-tasker since you shoot, style and art-direct your photo shoots yourself, what’s the process like on set and how do you manage all of it yourself?
Bringing an idea to life on set is nothing compared to the pre-shoot preparation for me. I start with moodboard development, location recce, lighting research during a certain timeframe. This is a process I was very used to as an Art Director. It sounds ridiculous but it does speed up the work on shoot day.
At a private location the photoshoot is very quick as I can have the full concentration to set up the camera, check how the garment sits and figure out poses. I guess it all boils down to being organised and build up a process that works for me. My partner assists me when I bring lots of expensive props or equipment.
Aki at Masu SKY CITY (left) and getting that on the street shot (right).
Shooting on the street or in public can be unpredictable, have you had any funny or embarrassing moments trying to get a great shot?
I once planned to grab some photos of myself sitting on a wall to showcase my shoes. I set up my camera on a tripod and I had 10 seconds to climb up the wall, pose and get the shot. In an ideal world, the first shot would be the perfect one but my head was cropped so it took me a few tries to get the right composition. Imagine how many times I had to climb up that wall… and how many times a passerby stopped to check if I needed help getting up that wall.
This climbing thing, never again. (Having said that, I was photographing a model from a tree last week).
How do you go about creating the perfect outfit and do you have any style rules?
I never have one when it comes to fashion, where is the fun when there are rules? For me, a perfect outfit is one that makes you smile, regardless of the style, brand or price tag. It is what gives you a halo after you put it on.
Do you have any style icons who inspire you?
The trend setters and creative directors themselves, Alessandro Michele and Karl Lagerfeld. Both are well known for bringing a breath of fresh air to the brands they represent. They lay out a playground for us with their next level creations, giving us the opportunities and access to their work.
Gucci, under the direction of Alessandro, is now so playful yet sophisticated. He managed to put five colours into one outfit yet made the overall look very cohesive. He showed us that pearls are not just for the queen, they are for the cool kids too. Same applies to Karl for Chanel and Fendi, evolving the brand’s signature looks. Comparing the brands identity five years ago and now, revolutionary isn’t it?
Aki’s blog shoot at TwentyOne Bar SKYCITY.
What are your favourite NZ labels to wear?
Trelise Cooper and the sister brands under TC, Karen Walker eyewear and accessories, Harman Grubiša shoes and accesories, Storm Clothing to name a few.
You have such a perfectly curated Instagram, how much time do you put into creating your content and spend on Instagram in general?
Thank you for your lovely words. I think there’s still a long way to go. Some say creativity is a 24/7 job, it is the same with The Sleek Avenue. Funny thing about ideas is that they pop up at the funniest times; in the shower, when you are about to fall asleep, when you do not have a pen and paper. I spend on average of one hour on Instagram everyday, but the majority of time and effort goes into the process from idea to finish art.
What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow and why?
Margaret Zhang: Superwoman that is not just fashionable but also well versed in her photo and film work. Loving her perspective regarding the fashion industry plus she writes like a Times magazine editor.
Mikutas: Amazing photographer. Perfectly curated Instagram. Her photo style is very unique and original.
The Haute Pursuit: She is my ultimate girl crush – effortless, chic, next level. Her minimal style, her Instagram feed and her yoga photos makes my heart skip a beat. Who knew she had a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular genetics too.
How do you decide which brands you collaborate with and what have been your favourite projects for your blog so far?
Point of difference of the design, quality of material (versus its price) and craftsmanship, these are on top of my checklist. I try to stay away from exotic skins and real fur.
Aki at 46&York.
Aki’s REVOLVE collaboration.
What do you think are the misconceptions about fashion bloggers and what do you think people should know about what you do?
Fashion Blogging is not all about glamour and front rows, getting paid to promote contents or receiving gifts all the time. We are a bridge between brands and everyday people. Brands rely on us to translate their brand promise to our audience and our audience depend on us to feed them with reliable information before investing their money into a product/service. It is a huge responsibility, towards your audience and clients.
Some people might not know that it is a long haul flight. My evenings are spent replying to emails, concept development and writing. Clients’ deadlines always take first priority over social plans. Weekends are usually spent on planning new content, updating the website and invoicing. Client meetings takes place during lunch breaks because all these happen on top of an office job.
What are your tips for anyone who wants to become a fashion blogger themselves?
Be yourself, and be proud of it. When I first started blogging, I dressed according to what’s popular or what famous bloggers were wearing. I ended up feeling very miserable. Then I started to dress how I would dress and people started noticing me, it’s odd. I learned that we are all unique in our own way, fashion blogging is a very crowded sphere, love yourself and people will love you for who you are.
What’s next for you and where do you see yourself in five years?
Improve my photography skills, learn about videography, push more boundaries, break new ground for The Sleek Avenue and my clients. I am currently working on some photography work for Superette Store and some art direction work for a NZ jewellery designer. I truly enjoy sharing my knowledge and skills, to inspire, to bring smiles, to motivate, and sometimes to make the world seem better than it is. Let’s see where it takes me in five years.
Aki’s photography for a project with Superette Store.
Images supplied by Aki Ang.