K-pop Idol Jisoo’s Presence at Dior Had Unexpected Consequences

What Happened: The livestream of Dior’s latest collection recorded over 54 million views in China — a new record for the luxury house. Still, behind the high figures, the Paris Fashion Week event was not without controversy. Overall, the collection was less than well received with some citizens calling out the brand’s looks as “ugly” copies of earlier designs from Prada and Miu Miu.

Secondly, while the viewing figures were undoubtedly boosted by the attendance of K-pop star Jisoo, a member of the Korean music group Blackpink, she became a focal point for netizens. The idol yields considerable influence in China and is the house’s global ambassador for fashion and beauty lines. Her presence prompted netizens to ask why Chinese celebrities were “worth less than Korean ones?”

The Jing Take: According to Coresight Research, Chinese consumers are expected to spend $300 billion on products featured in livestreaming videos this year. This means luxury brands can’t afford to ignore the sector. And, despite its efforts, Dior continues to garner mixed results from the strategy.

On the up side, it certainly knows how to attract traffic: This viewing figure towers over the previous season’s 16.3 million which is good news. On the down side, an increased reach is a double-edged sword, and, as a result of its widespread popularity, Weibo was flooded with negative responses.

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Influential critics, bloggers and fans, including @YangFanJame (1.3 million followers) and@starstylefashion (with 2.3 million fans) criticized the change of style indicating it was out of step with progressive shoppers’ desires. @Pipijuice (1.8 million) reposted images of looks that illustrated questionable fashion plundering from Prada and called to mind Diet Prada’s scathing takedowns. “Auntie Maria is destroying Dior” indeed.

Chinese netizens point out similarities between Dior’s new collection and Prada and Miu Miu’s earlier designs. Photo: @孔雷欧 Weibo

The reactions also amplify the complexities of using KOLs as conduits. Despite the attendance of two Chinese actresses, Dior was accused of racism by irate fans demanding to see even more representation at the event. As the country’s role in luxury increases, sophisticated consumers are looking for authenticity and increased visibility in brand communications. Dior’s recent hiring of transgender icon Jin Xing as a fragrance face was a positive step, but more needs to be done. Isn’t it time for Dior to appoint a global ambassador from China?

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.