In an ongoing series where we cover the rising stars of Vietnam’s millennial culture, we meet with Jess Huynh. Discovered on Instagram and now an up-and-coming fashion influencer, born and bred Saigonese local Jess shares her tips about establishing her personal brand on Instagram and what she, like many millennial Saigonese, dreams about for the future of Vietnam.
How has your experience living and studying abroad influenced your fashion tastes?
London is one of the fashion capitals of the world. If you step out on the main street, everyone is wearing inspiring styles. Studying in London, as a history of art student, meant that most of my peers had unique tastes and styles. Being around so many people with diverse styles helped me find my own style.
In a global city like London, people more openly express their style and are more bold with their choices. It’s usually not just jeans and a t-shirt. Street style is evolving in Vietnam, though it’s still a few years away. Living in London also helped me get into the habit of being well dressed all the time. London aesthetically is also a lot more scenic than Vietnam. In Saigon, I find myself being a lot more selective about where to take my Instagram shots.
Are you interested in starting your own style and brand?
I’d like to start my own brand eventually. Right now doesn’t feel like the right time for me though, as many fashion stores are opening right now. And the identities are getting messy. Many brands are beginning to look the same. If I open my own line, it won’t blend in too much. It might be a problem if the style isn’t suited for mass tastes, but you can’t ensure a winning formula for revenue and success in any business, right? I’ll take my time to figure out what I like and what the market likes, but not right now.
There are some brands in Europe and the UK that I’d like to source and bring over to Vietnam. But the Vietnam market might be too early for some of the price points and sorts of styles I’m thinking about. Maybe a few more years until we see an evolution for the tastes of these styles.
What are you up to these days? What’s your focus?
I’m freelancing for a few brands, focusing on social media strategy. I’ll be starting in a full-time role for a new up-and-coming brand in a few weeks. I’m also looking at starting my own fashion, lifestyle, and travel blog. I write better in English, though there’s a high likelihood it’ll be dual language. Many of my followers are Vietnamese, but nowadays more and more young people can read English.
How did you get your start on Instagram as a Vietnamese fashion personality?
When I was still in the UK, I started on Instagram around 2013. I started in the Vietnamese fashion scene with brands like Nosbyn. From the beginning, it was mutually beneficial for both of us. I would wear Nobsyn’s clothes and their team would reshare my photos. Later I started publishing more consistent content that defined my personality. It took a lot of years, but I eventually discovered my own personality on Instagram. It’s what my followers know me for.
What are some tips you can lend to other aspiring fashionistas?
No general tips, but if you like a style or theme focus on that and invest into it. There are so many different kinds of people on Instagram. You can focus on food, travel, or fashion. Just find what you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to start uploading your own original content. Find your style and discover what you’re good at. And most importantly, keep it fun and as a hobby at first.
Who’s taking all of your photos?
Ryan Quoc takes most of my photos. Any photos that I don’t appear in are ones that I personally take. Ryan takes the majority of the ones where I appear in.
What’s trending in Vietnam today? What are you most excited to see next?
There are trends, but nothing I’m really excited about. The first trend that started in Vietnam was dressing in all black and white. A minimalist style, though it’s becoming the norm now. Brands like Floralpunk have done well with that trend. Now we’re seeing more young brands aspiring to be Floralpunk. There aren’t any specific trends that I’m excited about. I am excited about the fact that more Vietnamese are ready to experience new styles and fashions.
What are some of your favorite Vietnamese fashion brands? For a casual and a fancy night out?
One of my favorite brands for a casual day out is Nosbyn. Lam Boutique is also for everyday, though I tend to wear their styles more for events. In fact, every event I exclusively wear something from Lam Boutique. Another great Vietnamese brand is Ladan.
Dressing up can be difficult with the heat and humidity. What’s the proper dress for a guy in Vietnam?
Dress for the right occasion is my general suggestion. You don’t want to wear anything too formal in a casual setting, and vice versa. A good choice of shoes is key, as is your pick of accessories. For guys the weather does limit your sense of style. I’d recommend chinos and loafers. Linen shirts are also perfect in this weather.
Where can a guy take you on a date night in Ho Chi Minh City?
Stoker Woodfired Grill. Great drinks and oysters. Bloody marys.
What are some of the most Instagrammable places in Ho Chi Minh City?
Runam d’Or is one of my favorites. There are some places around Thao Dien. There aren’t as many people and there are fewer cars and motorbikes. And a lot of pretty doors. I love taking pics in front of doors. One of my other favorite destinations in Ho Chi Minh City to take pictures is the ramen alley in Little Japantown, 15B Le Thanh Ton. My favorite go-to place is Tomidaya Ramen Noodle. Any place in that area is good though, they all have their own distinctive styles.
Based on your Instagram you travel quite a bit. Where are you headed next? Where else do you want to go?
I’ll be in Australia and New Zealand. After that, I’d love to go to Iceland, Japan and Taiwan.
Are there any other Instagram personalities we should speak with next?
Daul Be, bedaulbe. She’s an up-and-coming Vietnamese YouTube personality
Acohi, j.hgv. He owns a fantastic brand shop, called ACOHI
Huy Nguyen, huynguyen203. He’s currently working as the PR Manager for Lam Boutique
You can find Jess Huynh’s Instagram page @jessshuynhh and her friend Ryan’s Instagram page @ryanqly.