The Chriselle Factor

March 25, 2014

Chriselle Lim is one of today’s most influential stylists online 

with 408,000 Youtube subscribers, 27 million views and 300,000 Instagram followers

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Chriselle Lim is one of the most influential stylists online. (Photo – Chriselle Inc.)

By Tae Hong

Chriselle Lim, top fashion expert on Youtube and creator of the popular style blog The Chriselle Factor, was a fangirl once, too.

Long before “Reply 1997” aired, she had the iconic white Club H.O.T. raincoat and the sneaking-out-at-night-to-stand-in-a-concert-line cred.  Cheek paint? Check. In true love with Tony Ahn? Check.

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“Fashion is more than a tangible object, and it’s definitely more emotional for me. I think what you wear tells a story of how you’re feeling that day,” Lim says. (Chriselle Inc.)

Living three houses down from “President of Korean Pop Culture” Seo Taiji? Check.

Now, 17 years later, the K-Pop lover is a bonafide tastemaker on the Internet, a social-media-driven star whose influence spans the globe with over 408,000 Youtube subscribers, 27 million video views and 300,000 Instagram followers.

Top brands — among them Tiffany & Co., Coach, Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic — have sought out collaborations with Lim, who generates content in a variety of online mediums.

Carefully curated photoshoots from her travels around the world, from Paris to New York to her home in Los Angeles, are center-stage on her blog; her Youtube channel offers how-to guides and styling tips; and her Instagram and Twitter accounts serve as direct lines of communication between Lim and her followers.

A second-generation Korean American, Lim, 28, was born in Texas and spent four years in Seoul in the mid-’90s through elementary and middle school. She says her time in Seoul kept her connected to Korea despite having spent most of her life on the west coast.

She credits her love of fashion and beauty both to her stay in Korea and to her mother, who she says loves pattern-making and who used to dress Lim and her sister in one-of-a-kind, jokingly “couture” matching outfits.

But her affinity toward styling came during her time at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, where she realized through a public relations internship, and subsequently through being an assistant to Hillary Swank stylist Tanya Gill, that the profession was her calling.

“All these celebrities would come into her home, which was her office, to get styled. I thought that was so cool,” she says. “She epitomized the kind of life I wanted to live.”

These days, social media drives the Internet and the spread of information, from news to videos to photos to connections. Lim attributes her success at finding an ever-growing audience of followers to the moment she saw how much reach her friend and makeup artist Michelle Phan had on Twitter.

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In her downtown L.A. office, white brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows are the backdrop to countless videos and photos. (Chriselle Inc.)

To Lim, who saw women look through magazines without really being able to relate to celebrities and what they wear, social media was a chance to show her style on her own terms and with her own closet.

“Fashion is more than a tangible object, and it’s definitely more emotional for me. I think what you wear tells a story of how you’re feeling that day,” she says. “It can empower you or you can just get by.”

In her downtown L.A. office, white brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows are the backdrop to countless videos and photos. It’s also the backdrop to what she says is an ongoing effort to help Korean designers break out into the U.S. market.

From Phillip Lim to Son Jung Wan, Asia has emerged as a hotbed for fashion in recent years. Part of it is attributable to the popularity of Asian pop culture, especially K-Pop, and part of it is due to tastemakers like Lim who influence style from today’s most accessible platform: social media.

Among Lim’s goals is to bring relatively unknown Korean fashion designers stateside — one of her latest favorites is Big Park by Park Youn-soo, a brand making big waves in Korea. Lim shows her support by wearing Park’s pieces and featuring them on her site.

“I love that Korean designers take a bit more risk,” she says. “In the U.S., you have to please a certain type of audience to get into the Barney’s, the Nordstroms. Because Korean designers haven’t hit mass market yet, they’re able to just create things they’re passionate about.”

If she admires those designers for their creativity, it’s because she, too, considers herself a creator. Styling isn’t Lim’s only beat; she’s more than happy to work behind the camera to produce content.

One of her newest clients for which she will promote is the Korean cosmetics company Laneige, which has made Lim its American ambassador. The project has her excited because she started using the brand in the ‘90s.

Lim, whose Korean name is So-jung, says she’s always trying to find more ways to work in Korea and with Korean brands.

“Sometimes a lot of people, especially in Korea, think I’m more American than Korean, but I actually feel more Korean than American,” she says. “I feel like the core of who I am really developed in Korea.”

107 Comments

  1. B Cho

    March 25, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Great article and absolutely love Chriselle Lim! But please note that Phillip Lim is not Korean.

    • yean

      March 25, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      B Cho, the article was referring Phillip Lim as one of the succesful “Asian” designers, they didn’t say anything about him being Korean

    • mts converter

      August 23, 2017 at 5:57 AM

      it’s absolutely gorgeous

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