Collaborations are ruling China’s fashion headlines this week, with netizens swarming to the Bulgari x Honor of Kings livestream on Monday this week, and Prada’s tie-up with the Chinese Women’s Football team trending on every platform.
This week, Collabs & Drops breaks down the benefits Prada reaps by steering toward sports for a less risky selection of key opinion leaders (KOL). In contrast, but also resonating with the mainstream public, Fendi teamed up with a celebrated Chinese household name, Taiwanese ice cream brand Corner Cone Gelato.
For more avant-garde fashion fans, Yvmin and Shushu/Tong have announced another collaboration, their fifth year of working together.
Check out our verdict on these brand collaborations below, and subscribe here to receive these updates straight to your inbox every Tuesday.
Prada x Chinese National Women’s Football Team
Date: July 20
Product: Outfits for China squad, made for events and in between games
Social context: The official post on Prada’s Weibo account (2.8 million followers) announcing the Chinese National Women’s Football Team collaboration has garnered 123,000 likes.
Verdict: Partnerships with sports persons are becoming the most reliable approach to KOL brand endorsement, especially in China. This latest move by Prada is, therefore, a comparatively safe way to maintain a healthy brand image.
The Italian luxury house has demonstrated its focus on sports in the mainland, with Chinese basketball player Shuyu Yang appointed as brand ambassador in May this year, and Chinese table tennis player Ma Long taking up the same position five months before that.
A sex scandal involving Prada ambassador singer-songwriter Cai Xukun is rumbling along, so the brand is fully aware of the risks of working with celebrities. Sports partnerships are much less hazardous in terms of reputation management, while simultaneously enhancing public support in China.
The partnership will continue after the World Cup to include “various important summer fixtures,” like the Hangzhou-based Asian Games 2023 in September this year, and the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Fendi x Corner Cone Gelato
Date: June 6 to June 30
Product: Zodiac ice cream flavors, to promote the Astrology Summer 2023 capsule collection
Social context: #Corner Cone Gelato(酷矿手作霜淇淋(武康大楼店) has 52,000 reads on Weibo, and the hashtag Summer ice cream (夏日冰淇淋) has 45.8 million views on Xiaohongshu.
Verdict: Just like Heytea, Wukang Mansion’s Corner Cone Gelato store in Shanghai is a famous spot in the mainland. It’s a great platform for Fendi to build on its national cultural capital and connect directly with the mainstream public.
After all, luxury might not be accessible, but the majority of consumers only want to invest in luxury products that are instantly recognizable for social status, so maintaining reputation and identity within each market is a must.
Furthermore, engagement with the ice cream hashtag on Xiaohongshu shows just how popular photogenic gelato is right now, so the Italian luxury house is simultaneously becoming part of a trend, too.
Creating moments made to be photographed organically by consumers is one of the easiest ways to market a luxury brand in China. And Corner Cone Gelato’s tasty creations are exactly that — the astrologically inspired cones are artworks in themselves, so adding a Fendi branded cone cover ensures the logo is seen in every photo on social media.
Yvmin x Shushu/Tong
Date: July 8
Product: “Arrow Red Heart” jewelry collection
Social context: Yvmin has 37,000 fans on Weibo and #Yvmin尤目# has been read by 1.7 million netizens. The Yvmin post on Xiaohongshu, where the brand has 46,400 followers, about K-Pop band New Jeans wearing the pieces has just 83 likes. On Xiaohongshu, #Shushutong has amassed 72.6 million views.
Verdict: Since 2018, local jewelry name Yvmin and Shushu/Tong have collaborated on jewelry lines, with the initiatives coinciding with each new fashion season. The partnership has helped the established independent fashion label enter a new product category, leveraging the expertise of a stylishly avant-garde brand.
For Yvmin, the ongoing partnership has bolstered engagement and its own consumer base as the two brands share similar aesthetics. After all, Shushu/Tong has 137,000 followers on global platform Instagram, and it’s a mainstay on the official London Fashion Week schedule.
Shushu/Tong dresses South Korean girl group Blackpink quite often, which makes the fact that leading K-pop girl band New Jeans wore this collection in its latest music video less surprising — though, this is a KOL tie-up that Yvmin would probably not have achieved solo.