‘I Want to Look American!’

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Fashionista and economics major Rebecca Zhou ’13 with her collection of stuffed puppies from Victoria Secret Pink, a brand that helped inspire her summer research.

Q & A with Summer Scholar Taiyangzhi “Rebecca” Zhou ’13:

What’s the title of your research?

“‘I Want to Look American!’ Analysis of American Fashion Industry and its Future in China.”

What’s the story behind the idea?

I’ve always enjoyed fashion and clothes, and my favorite sport is shopping (just kidding! It’s just one of my favorite sports). I lived in Michigan for one year as an exchange student back in high school. At that time, I started to shop like a typical American teenager, and my favorite brands were Victoria’s Secret and VS PINK. When I went back to China, I noticed how much people loved what I brought back. I even sold some of my PINK stuff to my friends. So basically my summer research asks, “How do you market American fashion brands like PINK in China?” I analyzed the emerging Chinese consumers markets with potential for American fashion brands. I also tried to develop marketing strategies that American fashion companies could utilize when they enter the Chinese market.

And through my research, I also got the chance to intern with Limited Brands, the parent of Victoria’s Secret. The internship gave me more insightful knowledge and experience on how to look at a market and consumers in that market.

Economics professor Andrea Ziegert on her advisee:

Like many Denison students, Taiyangzhi is an accomplished student with a good academic track record. But what sets her apart is her energy and spunk. She is funny, open, warm, and the kind of person that seems to know what she wants and can get the job done. Her project of introducing American fashion into China is a great combination of scholarly and practical issues. This is my favorite type of project to work with students on—we can conduct scholarly research skills but at the same time explore the advantages and limitations of scholarship in a real world setting. I have no doubt that, if done well, this project will be more than a scholarly exercise for Taiyangzhi; it can go a long way to help her achieve her dream of introducing American fashions into China.

What personal experience do you bring to the topic?

Well, I’ve lived in China for 16 years and I know the culture, which helped me a lot throughout the research and internship in terms of understanding people’s behaviors and values. Living in the U.S. for 3 years now also helped me get to know more about American fashion brands. And when I combine those two experiences, I see potential for a huge market for American fashion brands in China, which inspired me to do the research.

This research is something I feel really passionate about. It’s something I want to do with my future, my career. Doing research on this topic brings me from the level of only daydreaming about my dream of bringing American brands to China to actually do something that could make my dream come true.

What is the most unexpected bit of information you’ve discovered?

I discovered that Victoria’s Secret really does not yet have store in China, which means I could help them — and do exactly what I’ve always wanted. A lot of people think that since brands like Zara and H&M are already in China, Victoria’s Secret must be there too. Knowing that they haven’t made it to China yet makes me feel more determined about the research and about my career goals.


Rebecca Zhou is a junior psychology and economics double major from Changsha, China. Her research was funded by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

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