“There are hundreds and thousands of shopping maniacs who love to buy handbags,” Liang said. “But they don’t have time to research and decide which bag is worth buying. I provide them with such advice.” Talking to Tao Liang is like catching up with an old friend. He is polite, soft-spoken, humble in his achievements and most impressively, he is only 26 years old. He oversees a team of 17 staff, but proves he’s having just as much fun as he spends working.
Work and play
Just a week before we met, Liang and a few of his teammates travelled to Tokyo to attend the show of Kim Jones’ sophomore collection for Dior. Between the show and meetings, Liang and his team took some time to have fun at Disneyland, as documented on his Vlog. Vice followed him earlier this year as he released a Chinese New Year exclusive design in partnership with Tod’s on his WeChat channel.
The creation was a dog-shaped Wave mini backpack, which was sold out in a mere seven minutes after it was released online. “We were actually really worried,” Liang recalled, “we were thinking, ‘what if this is the only bag that doesn’t sell out? And it’s all happening live with a camera crew in the office?’”
We met on a warm afternoon in December at his Tsim Sha Tsui hotel in Hong Kong, just steps away from where he hosted a fan meet-and-greet at the Harbour City Tod’s boutique. “My followers and I talked about the newest collections, my top picks for the current season,” he said with enthusiasm, “and then we played some games”. Liang always likes to include engaging ice-breaker games to play at each of his meet up’s and will cater them according to the city he is in, "it’s a nice way to get to know everyone, and my fans really enjoy it.”
How it all began
Liang may be soft spoken at first, but ask him about his passion—bags, and he lights up. “I became obsessed with fashion during my years in high school in Beijing, but it wasn’t till I moved to Los Angeles for my undergraduate studies that I started shopping a lot,” he recalls fondly. “I would go to Rodeo Drive four or five times a week, but I was on a student budget, so I wasn’t making a lot of purchases at the time—it was more like window shopping.”
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Call it shopping or call it market research, Liang made careful considerations and choices when he purchased, and that’s how he got into the business of bags.