Luxury loves a good party. From film festivals to fashion shows, brands tapped or hosted their own major events this year as a way to forge deeper connections with China’s consumers. Through these immersive experiences, brands not only brought elements of their marketing campaigns to life, but they also cultivated a sense of status and exclusivity, driving up brand equity.
Even though COVID-19 hit the experience economy hard, the show went on — or, online, that is. Given travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, luxury brands were forced to rethink traditional event formats and find new ways to reach audiences. As a result, brands danced between online and offline channels, leveraging livestreams, social media, and other technologies to make up for the lack of in-person and attendees from around the world.
This strategy was largely met with success, but particularly in China. Post-pandemic consumers in China were hungry for physical connections, which luxury made sure to satisfy with branded events. Louis Vuitton made a splash in Shanghai with its colorful crew of cartoon inflatables, while Prada, Farfetch, and Canada Goose all turned to pop-ups and art exhibitions to please their VIP customers. And, of course, hundreds of luxury brands hopped on the Singles’ Day train to ride off into the surging-sales sunset.
Below — in reverse order — are Jing Daily’s most memorable luxury events of 2020. For more of our 2020 year reviews and highlights, read here.
While perhaps not as exciting as the other consumer-facing events, the fourth edition of the Luxury Symposium, hosted by the French Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Hong Kong, was no less exclusive, bringing together some of the industry’s biggest names. On January 20, over 200 decision-makers from brands and retailers in the greater APAC region gathered in Hong Kong to learn about the future of China’s luxury market. Despite being aptly titled “Disruption and challenges: Where luxury goes next,” the symposium couldn’t have possibly foreseen all the obstacles to come. Nevertheless, many of the key takeaways hold true, particularly regarding the importance of retail innovation and young consumers. Read more here.
Though not a luxury event, the number of luxury brands participating this year doubled to 200, and many of them won big. Fashion heavyweights like Burberry, Coach, and Balenciaga all performed well, with the latter exceeding an entire day of sales at Alibaba’s 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival in just 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Michael Kors broke $100 million, and Cartier sold a $28-million necklace. Living up to its reputation as the “Super Bowl of e-commerce,” Singles’ Day also tapped big stars and KOLs for musical performances and livestreams to help drive engagement. If anything, the pent-up demand from the pandemic worked in the shopping festival’s favor, leading to record-breaking sales on November 11. Read more here.
While the big four fashion weeks fared well despite canceled shows and other pandemic-related challenges, Shanghai was the only fully physical fashion week of the season, hosting 90 runway shows. Though it was missing its usual lineup of global star attendees and brands, Spring 2021 made up for it by inviting many of China’s fashion elite, including the actress Fan Bingbing and former Vogue China editor Angelica Cheung. The Green Carpet Fashion Award also had its world premiere at the event. And although COVID-19 has forced many activities to go digital, Shanghai Fashion Week signals the staying power of China’s industry and the continued allure of the physical runaway. Read more here.
Prada Mode, the luxury brand’s traveling social club, took over the Prada Rong Zhai on August 31 and September 1 for one of the most memorable pop-up events of the summer. Renowned Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke transformed the historic Shanghai villa into “MIÀN,” a site-specific intervention inspired by his cinematic work. Two thousand visitors roamed the halls of the 1920s mansion, joining conversations with leading cultural figures, attending short film screenings, and even watching a flour making demonstration. Meanwhile, 200,000 others tuned in to a livestream through Prada’s WeChat Mini Program. The growing popularity of luxury pop-ups and art exhibitions points to the importance of creating priceless experiences for consumers. Read more here.
Wuhan, previously unknown in the West, has now risen to worldwide recognition as the epicenter of COVID-19. It was here that Louis Vuitton decided to kick off its traveling exhibit, SEE LV, on October 31. The fashion house invited visitors on an immersive journey through its 160 years of history, from Parisian trunk maker to luxury powerhouse. Guests were able to view items ranging from early 20th century trunks and contemporary looks to artistic collaborations, including the 2020 Artycapucines Collection. Ultimately, launching the exhibition in Wuhan not only served as a sign of confidence in the world’s biggest luxury market but also as a celebration of the city’s rich cultural and historical heritage. Read more here.
Once again, Louis Vuitton was a winner. It pulled out all the stops in launching luxury’s first fashion show in post-pandemic China. After releasing the animation “Zoooom With Friends,” which shows cartoon animals sneaking aboard shipping containers in Paris, the brand continued the storyline in Shanghai. On August 6, the cartoons manifested as giant inflatables and playful motifs on collection pieces, worn by models walking out of real cargo containers. With prominent faces in attendance, including Chinese actor/singer Kris Wu, the event garnered more than 100 million views worldwide. By leveraging online and offline channels — as well as a literal voyage across the world — Louis Vuitton turned the traditional fashion show format on its head. Read more here.