Why Made in China Won The Spring Festival Gala

What Happened: China’s 2021 Spring Festival Gala was broadcast live on February 11. According to the Chinese Central Radio and Television Station, preliminary statistics estimate that 1.14 billion viewers tuned in. Spanning four and a half hours, more than 600 media outlets across 170 countries showed the extravaganza, comparable only to the US Superbowl in terms of advertising opportunities. Luxury brands vied to dress celebrities as they tried to cash in on this massive endorsement opportunity. Chanel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Red Valentino, Alexis Mabille, Cartier, and many other global luxury brands, were represented, while popular actors like Ni Ni, Liu Haocun, and Zhu Yilong were dressed by Gucci, Miu Miu, and Acne Studios respectively. Despite the glamour of the government-run event, COVID-19 still cast its shadow over the speeches, while new tech innovation drove experiences for mobile audiences, including AI and VR.  

Jing Take: This televised gala aims to highlight the best of Chinese culture and showcase Chinese economic prosperity. However, the commodification of the Chinese lunar festival by Western luxury brands has been even more prevalent than usual. And post-pandemic, who can blame them? More interestingly, though, while luxury names battled to dress stars, there was another more localized trend making the headlines: the homegrown luxury brands worn by supermodels and stars alike that stole the show. 

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A host of celebrities opted to patron homegrown local names like Sankuanz, Le Fame, and Laurence Xu. The Chinese actress Yang Mi thanked the frontline workers for their efforts during the outbreak wearing a dress by the well-known Chinese couturier Guo Pei. But, However this year, the issue of “Guochao” and support of local brands has become mired with debates on traditional aesthetics. Heaven Gaia worn by supermodels He Sui, Ming Xi and Zhang Zilin was easily the most talked about brand of the night.

The Beijing label, which fuses traditional eastern and western design elements, has its fans. Yet post-event, it was the subject of much debate online. One netizen went so far as to write: “Adding so much nonsensical western fashion into our traditional clothing, it’s horrible and ugly — aren’t you guys ashamed?” Other viewers questioned their originality; #gaiaplagiarism# now has 340,000 views on Weibo. But, in the words of Oscar Wilde, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about. And no one understood this better than Chinese celebrities, who rightly, leveled the playing field for local talents on this spectacular night. 

Netizens on Weibo accused Heaven Gaia (left) of plagiarism and complained about its use of Western elements. Photo: Weibo

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.

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