Beauty and the blogs
Chavaporn 'Ploy' Laohapongchana built an online empire for herself in a short time by taking photos of her superstar friends at hi-so soirees and advising A-listers on fashion. And now in charge of 'Elle' Thailand's net presence, she adds another level to her social media sway
Chavaporn Laohapongchana, better known as "Ploy Chava", is hard to miss on the Thai fashion scene _ attending all the right events and parties, palling around with A-listers who have come to depend on her fashion and style advice, and recently named Elle Thailand's first style and social editor.
It's been a quick rise to prominence for the 27 year old, who only a few years ago was completing her studies towards a master's degree in fashion promotion at the Istituto Marangoni in London. And it's one that can be tied directly to the impact she has made online as one of Thailand's leading fashion bloggers.
She didn't start off set on becoming Thailand's answer to Rachel Zoe when she began blogging in 2010. "I just wanted to share my lifestyle and what I'd been studying in class," she says. "I'm also a person who likes to take photographs and dress up. I simply enjoyed blogging."
Writing her blog then was an enjoyable way for Ploy to share her interests and personality while building a portfolio that she hoped would one day interest future employers. From those humble origins, her blog, PO BOX, has exploded, receiving hundreds of thousands of hits.
Ploy, herself the youngest daughter of former cabinet minister Preecha Laohapongchana, says that a key reason for her blog's popularity is that it gives people an inside look into social circles they might not otherwise be a part of. Her BFFs include Araya "Chompoo" Hargate and Chermarn "Ploy" Boonyasak, to name but two, and photos of them decked out in the latest fashions at hi-so parties fill PO BOX.
"I guess [the blog is popular] because I have friends who are celebrities and when people see these pictures, it seems like they are getting an insider's perspective into what's going on," she says. "There wasn't Instagram before, so people who read my blog felt like they had privileged access to a world that would normally be closed to them."
Ploy says her readers began visiting then and didn't stop, following her on additional social media platforms _ she's on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram _ as well as frequenting her fashion store P's Material.
Ploy has little experience in print, but brings her abilities as a social media force to bear on her new duties with Elle, channels she says which are vital to the survival of magazines.
Websites much like Ploy's deliver updates on fashion far more frequently than a magazine could ever hope to keep pace with, she says. Retaining reader engagement, she says, means jumping headfirst into the online world.
"It's extremely important because people consume so much online media these days, whether it is Facebook, Instagram or others," she says.
Ploy says that it then becomes imperative for glossies to create touch points for readers on every social media outlet available, so that they are not left behind in a cutthroat industry that thrives on the latest trends.
One of Ploy's duties is to update Elle Thailand's Instagram account, giving readers an insider's look into all the work leading up to the final publication.
"On Elle's Instagram you can see how we work and the places we visit before the magazine comes out," she says. "If we're at Fashion Week, I'll upload pictures, from backstage or what not."
Ploy insists that the Instagram account is not intended to compete with those of other glossies, but merely adds another element, enhancing the print publication for readers.
''It's merely a representation of the character of the magazine _ I photograph what reflects the kind of women Elle targets. An Elle girl is not just clean-cut and posh; she mixes and matches and is into street fashion.
''I try to post pictures that give people inspiration when it comes to their own wardrobes. Most of all, Elle girls like to have fun.''
She says the Instagram account caters to this, providing a look at what's new, what's popular in the shops, and what insiders are doing.
''It's simply fun to look at and doesn't have that, in your face, 'Hey, you need to buy this!' tone.''
Readers have responded well _ Elle has 36,000 followers on Instagram, and readers were enthusiastic about sharing their own styles on the website for the ''Burst Out Your Style'' campaign.
Taking on her new role means juggling Elle's online presence with her own, well-established persona, which she insists on keeping separate.
''There's my own account, then my shop's account and then there's Elle's account. It does get confusing sometimes when I have to keep signing in and out of different accounts!'' she says, laughing. ''But it's part of my job and I can't just leave followers to wait for the pictures they want to see. I can barely disappear for a whole day; there has to be movement all the time, so people feel that you're accessible.''
Regardless of which social media hat she is wearing, Ploy's life clearly revolves around trends, and when she's not reporting on them, she is actively researching.
''I have to be proactive in consuming media and watching the news from abroad. I have to change my sources all the time to find new things online,'' she says. ''I go through countless sites to read about collections, runaways, patterns and to find sources of inspiration. If some designer says they were inspired by a movie, it doesn't end there, I have to go and watch that movie to understand!
''Oh and did I mention malls yet? I have to check them out too!''
Despite that hectic schedule, she's enthusiastic about her new opportunity with Elle, which she says is a seamless fit with the persona she's created.
''If you have to change yourself to be a different character, it would seem forced and unnatural.''
'Elle' Thailand is published by Post Publishing Limited.
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About the author
- Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer