What Happened: On November 18, American fashion house Coach will launch an apparel, footwear, and accessories collection with iconic Chinese candy brand White Rabbit. To promote it, from November 7-11, a pop-up installation was displayed at the China International Import Expo (CIIE).
A household name in China, White Rabbit’s chewy sweets are the ultimate gateway for Coach to extend its consumer base in the market. Produced by state-owned Shanghai Guan Sheng Yuan Food, the candy played a leading role in many Chinese consumers’ childhoods since its launch in 1943. Nearly all consumers know White Rabbit candy in China.
Coach was one of the first brands to digitize its outreach in the mainland; the American label partnered with Alibaba in 2011 and launched a Tmall flagship store in the same year. By 2018, approximately 42 percent of its international e-commerce sales came from China.
Back in 2018, Coach also invited four Chinese artists — Guang Yu, Zhu Jingyi, and Sui Jianguio, and music collective Yeti Out — to reinterpret the mascot Rexy for its Pre-Fall collection. In 2021, Coach joined Michael Kors, Stuart Weitzman, and Zenith as a partner of streetwear and sneaker resale platform Poizon, also known as “the StockX of China.”
The Jing Take: Coach is aware of the power of collaboration in establishing relatability to consumers. Working with a Chinese household name like White Rabbit enables the brand to be translated culturally. Similar to Coach’s popular Disney launches, the collaboration taps into childhood nostalgia and a sense of playfulness, connecting with old and young consumers alike.
So far, the announcement has seen active engagement across Chinese social media platforms. On Coach’s Weibo account (followed by 4.5 million users), the posts about the White Rabbit collaboration have garnered 1,244 likes — much higher in comparison to other posts that generally gather between 20 to 50 likes. One post even has 558 comments, with netizens praising the fun aesthetic and fondness of tapping into childhood memories.
Although it appears to be an unexpected pairing, this is not White Rabbit’s first foray into the fashion scene. The candy company released a collection with Chinese clothing brand Ledin and collaborated with luxury shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood for Metaverse Fashion Week on NFT footwear earlier this year.
In general, collaborations are central to White Rabbit’s strategy of maintaining contemporary relevance. Meanwhile, Chinese consumers’ attraction to nostalgia marketing has enabled White Rabbit to thrive in the brand collaboration space. Judging from the Nicholas Kirkwood NFT project and this latest Coach collection, White Rabbit is only getting started in the fashion industry.
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.