How Luxury Brands Take Chinese Consumers Cruising in New York

It’s that time of year, the inter-season between the twice-yearly fashion collections, commonly known as cruise wear, which was originally designed for jet-setters’ vacationing or going on cruises in the depth of winter. Now, however, it’s evolved into a somewhat competitive sport for fashion brands to present commercially-accessible pieces in exotic locations, with over-the-top experiences. This year, Dior showed at a historic palace in Marrakech, Morocco, Chanel at Paris’ Grand Palais, and both Prada and Louis Vuitton chose to show in New York, amid the topic-worthy (and perhaps overexposed) MET Gala.

Given this, the Chinese consumer, which accounts for 30 percent of all luxury goods purchased worldwide, has eagerly taken to these extravagant cruise wear shows, as to them, they represent the ultimate branded experience. Think millions of people drooling over their phone screens, wishing to be there in person, and creating tons of online buzz for fashion brands. Here is how Prada and Louis Vuitton “took” online Chinese consumers cruising this season.

For Prada, it was the words of Miuccia Prada that set the tone for their show this year — “A protest against too much.” Prada created a pink dreamland at their US headquarters, which overlooks the Hudson River. It had a refreshing, intimate atmosphere, with pink color spilling all over the minimalistic space, as if to cleanse the fast-paced fashion state of mind, reminiscing about a past when fashion felt far more simple.

Prada Resort 2020 showspace. Courtesy photo.

Prada Resort 2020 show space. Courtesy photo.

But did this message came across to Chinese netizens? The event harvested a total of 34 million views on Weibo with divided comments, some appreciated the thoughtfulness, “back to the basics is the highest state of being,” commented Weibo user, Jiachi under Prada’s post. While Kola is a cat addressed the elephant in the room, “It seems like not many people like Prada anymore.”

Korean star Song Hye-Kyo.

Korean star Song Hye-Kyo.

Meanwhile, gogoboi, one of the most popular fashion bloggers in China, wrote a piece speaking highly of the designer’s bold choice in clothing, saying the 70-year-old “grandma” often wears show pieces but still looks better than the runway show models. Vogue China granted that those who understand Prada’s brand message have a high “beauty IQ,” referring to the level of understanding and appreciation of good aesthetics. But it seems like the general public is still fixated on Korean drama star — who attended the show — Song Hye-Kyo’s smokey makeup, the hashtag (#宋慧乔烟熏妆#) was discussed more than 57,000 times.

Bird's eye of the space. Photo: Louis Vuttion

Bird’s eye of the space. Photo: Louis Vuttion

A week after Prada’s cruise show, Louis Vuitton put on an extravagant affair — most certainly the opposite of simplicity. Presented at the newly remodeled, iconic TWA Flight Center at the John F. Kennedy International airport (which hasn’t yet opened to the public yet). The stark white interior was transformed into a luscious urban jungle. And setting the show in the airport, complete with an immense overhead flight display board, aced the travel theme, but some netizens question some of the cruise wear pieces, especially on how commercially accessible they were.

An intricate top from Nicolas Ghesquière's latest Louis Vuitton collection resented at the TWA Flight Center in New York.

An intricate top from Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest Louis Vuitton collection resented at the TWA Flight Center in New York.

Blogger “Fashion model,” who has 9 million followers on Weibo, commented, “Compare to other brands, LV’s cruise collection doesn’t give out the vacation vibe, more like group gang, models are like female killers.” Below the post, user DontActlikeaPapio asked, “Will any celebrity wear the hat?” And Wankuashenshi shared, “I feel like LV’s bag is always the protagonist, and the ready-to-wear is the sidekicks.” Some expressed their admiration and commented that the style is good for tough girls. As if to avoid talking about the uneasiness of the pieces, Vogue China published a piece that praised the utility and value of an LV bag, which garnered over 26,000 pageviews on WeChat. Both gogoboi and Mr.Bags also gave the reader a behind-the-scenes of their New York travel experiences (in LV product, of course), including a Brooklyn graffiti tour, an intimate brand dinner under the Brooklyn bridge, creating more soft social buzz to the show. The gift bag for attendees (as shown in a gogoboi’s short video) had a travel book featuring New York, and tags documenting all cruise shows since 2014 in Monaco, leaving the guest wondering what the next destination is, or to show off.

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Consumer, Market Trends, Social Media