(America-175) Feb 23, 2020 – What an influencer looks like?

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From horses to haute couture, billionaire’s daughter Jaime Xie is a fashion influencer in the making
• As a teenager, Xie hung out with Steve Jobs’ daughter and was obsessed with her family’s five horses
• She had a spot on Netflix’s Bling Empire, and is building herself a career in the fashion industry

Kavita Daswani scmp
24 Feb, 2020

Jaime Xie appears in the quiet lobby of the Mr C hotel in Beverly Hills, and heads instantly turn. With a stylish high ponytail and wearing caramel-coloured Givenchy stiletto ankle boots, she could easily pass for an actress or model, conveying the sort of confidence that comes with being young, lithe, well-dressed and well-born.

But Xie harbours the same concerns as many other women in their early 20s trying to find their way in the world. She is one of the newer luxury tastemakers – her Instagram (@jaimexie) is filled with images of her jet-set life, wearing Moncler in St Moritz, or Alexandre Vauthier at the
Hotel de Crillon
in Paris – but Xie has other goals, working on entrepreneurial ideas ranging from building a shoe brand to opening an organic cafe.

Xie, 23, was visiting Los Angeles from her home in Atherton, near San Francisco, to attend the Tom Ford autumn/winter 2020 ready-to-wear show. A couple of days later she stopped in at Elton John’s post-Oscars bash. Then she was off to London, Milan and Paris to attend catwalk shows, documenting her attendance through a few posts a day on Instagram.

Invites to the shows – notoriously hard to come by unless you’re a celebrity, member of the press or retail executive – appear in her inbox regularly. It wasn’t always this way.
In the run up to
New York Fashion Week
in September 2018, Xie began trying to figure out how to gain access. She tracked down the PR contacts for brands whose shows she wanted to attend. Knowing she’d be one of “hundreds, maybe thousands” of people trying to get in, she upped her chances by sending in photos of herself wearing the designers’ clothes.

That helped me stand out,” she says. She made it into
Proenza Schouler
, Sally LaPointe and Tibi. “I loved it so much,” she says. “The outfits, the craziness outside the shows, the photographers and people crowding around. I knew this was where I wanted to work.” A few months later, she was in Paris at couture shows by Alexandre Vauthier and Stephane Rolland.

This January Xie scored tickets to some of the hottest shows on the couture calendar – such as Dior – and darlings of couture cognoscenti, including Giambattista Valli and Schiaparelli.

“I don’t consider myself an influencer,” she says. “I guess everyone is these days. That title is very broad. But ultimately, I want to come up with something, a business of some sort, that has to do with fashion.”

Xie is the eldest child – she has two younger brothers – of Ken Xie, the CEO and founder of Silicon Valley cybersecurity company
Fortinet
; Forbes magazine recently estimated his net worth to be around US$1.7 billion. Her mother is from Taiwan, and attended University of California, Berkeley; she met Ken at a school dance.

It was the heiress status that secured Xie a spot in an unscripted show, The Bling Empire, which is reportedly in production for Netflix.

Xie decamped for several weeks to Los Angeles in 2019, palling around town with other wealthy Asians such as socialite and philanthropist
Christine Chiu
and Kane Lim.

“When [the producers] approached me about it, I didn’t know exactly what would happen. We filmed every day, four or five days a week. It’s unscripted, but they did arrange scenes, telling us what we needed to do. It was kind of set up. The way they edit things – you can’t control it. I just don’t want to come off as snobby or whatever.”
She is currently working with an agency in Milan and a PR firm, who are helping to open doors, making introductions and increasing her visibility; she has just under 150,000 Instagram followers, and has suspended her YouTube channel until she has a clearer focus for it; unboxing videos, she says, just don’t cut it for her any more.

Jaime Xie in a hot pink feathered outfit.
“In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about this industry. I was trying to figure it out on my own. You need people to guide you a little bit.”

Her glitzy life today is markedly different from that as a teenager, when she spent her Saturdays at the stables, taking care of her horses (her family owned five), and competing as an equestrian. One of her friends on the equine circuit was Eve Jobs, youngest daughter of Steve Jobs. As a teenager, she was so focused on horse riding that she stopped attending regular school and signed up for Stanford’s online high school, so she could continue to travel and compete.

In her earlier school years, she had to wear a uniform, but once a month or so, the school had a free fashion day. “I went all out on those days,” she says. “It was the only time I could really show how much I loved fashion.”
.
She would traipse through the halls of her school in sequinned Uggs, paired with her favourite staples from Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister. She confesses to being the only person in her family to have an eye for fashion.

“My mom thinks that I got the fashion gene from her father, who used to make men’s suits back in Taiwan. She says that’s where I got my eye and taste. Her friends used to ask her if she was the one introducing all these brands to me. But I was discovering them on my own.”

Eventually, she says, “it hit me. I’d been racing horses for so long but I still couldn’t see it as a career. I liked shopping and fashion. I wanted to focus on that”.
She got into fashion school FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Los Angeles, but after a year decided it wasn’t for her, so she quit and started her life as a taste maker.

Xie has no delusions about just how far she has been able to make it as a consequence of her family’s largesse. Although she has landed some brand collaboration and endorsement deals, where she is paid for posting about or wearing certain designers, she concedes that it’s her father’s money that keeps the machine working; the international travel, luxury hotel stays, extraordinary wardrobe.
When she tried to explain to her parents what she wanted to do with her life, they didn’t understand what she was talking about.

“Dad didn’t know what this career was,” she says. “He grew up traditional, went to college, did his master’s, worked really hard to build his business. And here I am, leaving school to work in fashion. My parents aren’t on Instagram. They didn’t know what it was. I had to send them articles to explain it.”

They were sceptical, she says, but also confident that the work ethic they drilled into their children – piano lessons, learning Chinese – would pay off; one of Xie’s brothers is now studying psychology at Stanford. However, her parents are now fully on board – although Xie says they have advised her that any income she makes be put back into her business – and not frittered away on the latest designer must-have.

“I’m fortunate that my family can support it,” she says. “I know, in the beginning, people were wondering, ‘you’re so young, you go to all these things’. And you don’t make that much money when you start. So I never told anyone who my father was. I didn’t want it known that I was the daughter of a billionaire. I wanted to be known as myself.”

She’s meticulous about branding, having turned down sponsorship deals for hair growth vitamins, teeth whitening devices and mattresses. “They’re not my brand,” she says. “I’m not going to post about them just because I’m being paid for it.” Instead, she’s waiting for the right opportunity, and reckons that being seen at the best parties is a step in the right direction.

“The end game is – I love going to events, but I want there to be something else,” she says. “There’s no substance behind just standing around and talking to people.”

Later that night, Xie went to the Tom Ford show in Hollywood – where A-listers included Jennifer Lopez and
Jeff Bezos
. She was in a David Koma dress, short, sparkly, with a feathered hem.

She found a perfect spot to pose, relaxed against a low table behind the bar, a stack of glasses near her, like she was out with friends for the night. She moved through the crowd, happy to talk to anyone, and it seemed for a moment that the wish she’d expressed earlier in the day was not too far from reality.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing right now, especially with leaving college, without my family’s support,” she said. “But the goal is, one day, I won’t need it any more.”

 

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