China’s Top 5 Collab Trends Of 2022

The year 2022 in fashion is ending with some major movements, from creative director Alessandro Michele leaving Gucci, to Miuccia Prada stepping down from her position as the Prada Group CEO. It’s almost enough to forget the immense brand collaborations that have taken over our newsfeeds this year.

Keeping up with the fast pace of collaborative launches in 2022 has been demanding, with constant crossovers coming from China. The mainland’s fashion talent have had an incredible 12 months, such as Feng Chen Wang launching a Piaggio e-scooter and a third collection with Ugg, Scarlett Yang being selected for the Rolls Royce Art Program and launching an NFT with The Fabricant, and DingYun Zhang creating an otherworldly Moncler Genius project.

September also saw global cosmetics label Mac continue its local strategy, following on from launches with Guo Pei (2015) and Angel Chen (2019), with an eyeshadow palette designed by contemporary, bubblegum-style couturier Windowsen. 

Beyond the evolution of independent designer x global brand collisions, here are the trends that have won over consumers in China since the year began.

Tea Time

vivienne westwood ritz

Vivienne Westwood collaborated with the Ritz-Carlton. Photo: Vivienne Westwood

As a result of netizens forever showing love for photogenic food and experiences on social media platforms, 2022 saw the rise of branded afternoon teas in opulent locations. 

From August 1 to September 16, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Guangzhou was host to a Vivienne Westwood afternoon tea menu. Another sweet September affair was by Japanese skincare line Clé de Peau Beauté, which served the “supreme series” afternoon tea set, along with a 90-minute facial spa treatment, at luxury hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. 

Other news included two partnerships — between jewelry house De Beers and the Ritz-Carlton, and haute jewelry brand Chaumet and Mandarin Oriental (MO) — releasing their own branded sweet treats and teas. The trend demonstrates the extent of brands tapping a lifestyle that feeds other areas of consumers’ interests and needs beyond their usual product offerings. And data proves that it works: According to Launchmetrics, La Mer x Waldorf Astoria Beijing’s collaboration garnered $165,000 (1.2 million RMB) in media impact value while the De Beers x the Ritz-Carlton collision generated as much as $277,000 (2 million RMB) in MIV.

Frisbee Faves

elizabeth arden frisbee

Beauty brand Elizabeth Arden worked with frisbees in 2022 to connect to Chinese Gen Z. Photo: Elizabeth Arden

China’s frisbee market exceeded $12.5 million (85 million yuan) in 2021, as shown by the 2022-2026 in-depth market research report on the industry. On the back of these meteoric figures, the trend has continued to thrive among the country’s youth this year. 

Global brands have been capitalizing on the local opportunity, with frisbees coming from all angles of every industry, whether that’s beauty or fashion. Some 2022 hits included those from beauty leader Elizabeth Arden, Shanghainese frisbee club Gravity, food delivery company, sports app Keep, Chinese sportswear giant Anta, and carmaker BYD, alongside others.

Not only has it been a way for labels to spread joy in another tumultuous year for the mainland, it’s also a playful route for those looking to connect with younger generations; Xiaohongshu data shows that in May, searches for frisbees increased by 62 times as much year-on-year. Think of it as intelligent merchandise.

Delicious Drops

Ecco Domani x Private Policy

Private Policy NYC received Ecco Domani’s grant for 2022, designing the wine bottle with a star theme. Photo: Private Policy NYC

Influenced by the persistent COVID-19 lockdowns that China saw throughout the year, food and drink became a go-to vehicle for brands to connect with their fans. Consumer goods tapped fashion for merchandise, and streetwear favorites launched tongue-in-cheek collaborations with some of China’s biggest household names.

This was the year that gave us pairings such as Olay x Nayuki (May), Ecco Domani x Private Policy (August), Mizuno x Meiji Dairy (August), Australian organic winery Baaswood x Mengqi Culture IP (August), and Lee X-Line x 7-Up (September).

Alcohol brands, in particular, have found themselves adapting in order to reach Gen Z beverage consumers. Chilean winemaker Los Vascos, for example, partnered with emerging coffee group @once吉饮 to create a set of drinks made for camping. Meanwhile, Corona worked with homegrown personal care brand Rever 乐若 to help people enjoy exotic party vibes from home with sea-salted, fruited beer and colorful bath bombs.

As zero-COVID restrictions have finally been eased in China, perhaps we will see a pivot away from the surge in food and drink collaborations. Though it will always be a way of relating to a universal audience while utilizing the appeal of nostalgic familiarity.

Retail Therapy

24s x chen peng

Independent Chinese designer Chen Peng collaborated with LVMH-owned 24S for the first time in 2022. Photo: 24S

Over the past year, many retail stores celebrated Chinese independent designers through limited edition collections, from LVMH-owned 24S tapping Chen Peng to Labelhood Leihu working with Nan Knits on a vibrant knitted Fall 2022 pop-up to promote the collection.

Among many other great releases, streetwear store Soulgoods launched three exclusive Nike Dunk High silhouettes with the global sportswear giant. Time will tell as to whether or not the collaboration will boost Nike’s popularity in China, seeing as it is still struggling from the hangover of the Xinjiang cotton controversy.  

As touched on in Jing Daily’s Big in China: Brand Collaboration report, which launched in Q1 of 2022, these retail partnerships allow brands and designers to connect with consumers on the ground who have similar tastes and likeminded interests. 

Leveraging this strategy, creative multi-brand retailer ENG Concept is currently host to an exclusive installation by Venice Beach-born label ERL in Shanghai. The store’s founder, Sherry Huang, told Jing Daily in September: “Considering the amount of retail businesses opening in China and their fast development, I think proposing something exclusive or different from the regular offer existing on the market is more than crucial. Chinese consumers get bored really fast so we have to constantly propose something that is attractive and yet different, that’s how we have accumulated such a big crowd since our opening.”

Designer Athleisure

asics x shushu/tong

The Asics and Shushu/Tong bow-embellished sneakers were released on December 23. Photo: Asics

Seeing as streetwear is still dominating the luxury space, global sportswear brands are continually incorporating the design potential of local independent talent in order to connect with their fashion fans. 

Throughout 2022, we saw highlights like Asics’ Gel-Spotlyte Low sneakers with 8On8 and Shushu/Tong, Puma’s colorful drop in partnership with Ton Mak’s studio Flabjacks, as well as Adidas’ capsule illustrated by Japanese artist Yu Nagaba and Chinese snowboarder Su Yiming. Plus, the accessories of the Adidas Gazelle and BW Army sneakers for Fengyi Tan’s avant-garde Spring 2023 collection, presented at Shanghai Fashion Week.

Brands have growing confidence in domestic talent due to the rise of mainstream collaborations, such as those from independent designer Feng Chen Wang, who launched Ugg and Canada Goose collections in 2022. 

This, combined with the fact that China is set to become the world’s largest luxury consumer by 2025, is turning a lot of focus toward local collaboration. It looks to be a dominating trend for 2023.

For more analysis on the latest collaborations, sign up for the Collabs and Drops newsletter here.


Collabs and Drops, Fashion, Global, Market Analysis