What happened: After 12 years, US-Chinese streetwear brand Babyghost has announced it will cease trading. The cult label, co-founded in 2010 by American Josh Hupper and Qiaoran Huang from Weifang, Shandong, was synonymous with streetstyle and the burgeoning of a new hybrid Chinese identity. A recent Instagram post stated that the company would begin “to clean up inventory of its Tmall and Taobao stores,” after which it would close. Reasons for this were undisclosed but it was described as “an extremely difficult decision.”
The Jing Take: Babyghost was a label of many firsts. Originally founded on the premise that it could resonate authentically in China as well as the west, it went on to be a line with transglobal appeal — not merely a pastiche of eastern and western tastes and aesthetics. It was one of the earlier designer names to launch on Alibaba, pioneering a wave of ‘Taobao’ players which challenged the local industry’s perception of fashion; it went on to gain 400,000 fans on the platform.
The duo understood well the power of early social platforms. Cultivating community via disparate imagery, simulacra, and video, Babyghost saw its clothes worn organically all around the world: by supermodels such as brand muse and stylist, Ju Xiao Wen, superstar Liu Wen, and many more. It was one of the first to open a Live shop on Tmall which, again, brought exposure and placed it ahead of the curve. In 2016, showing simultaneously between New York and Shanghai, its dim sum breakfast slash presentation was livestreamed via Weibo, bringing cities and audiences together — long before the pandemic.
Not only did Babyghost unite niche fashion lovers half a world away, it stood for the outsider. And if you knew them, you were in the know, as they say. It’s sad that it’s over. But it’s far better to burn out than fade away.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.