Beyond big names like Angelica Cheung, Lv Xiaolei, and Andrew Wu, there are countless business executives, editors, and creatives that make up the fabric of China’s fashion world. As COVID-19 hit this community — from disrupting events to changing consumer behavior — Jing Daily profiled the individuals working to propel the fashion industry forward.
We picked the brain of Mr. Bags, China’s biggest blogger, on what it takes to create “IT” items for the local market. We explored female empowerment with Xiaolu Liu, founder of bodywear brand NEIWAI, and how bras can shape societal conversations. And we caught up with Ant Financial’s Joanie Xie to learn how companies can connect with almost one billion consumers on Alipay.
Below are five influencers who’ve made their mark on China’s fashion industry — and what luxury can learn from them. For more of our 2020 year reviews and highlights, read here.
Liang Tao, better known as Mr. Bags, lives up to his nickname. His first handbag collaboration with Givenchy sold out in 12 minutes, amassing 1.2 million RMB (more than $180,000) in net sales. His Burberry line, which dropped earlier this year, sold out in a mere 60 seconds. This clout, of course, wasn’t built overnight. After a stint in the financial industry, Tao launched his fashion career from scratch by pulling pictures off Weibo and writing in-depth articles. In the process, he created an entirely new style of content in China, analyzing the prices, collection values, and styles of luxury bags, and then sharing practical tips with his audience of millions.
For brands hoping to create China’s next “IT” product, he told Jing Daily: “I would recommend including external professionals during the early stages of building an IT bag, whether it’s from a design perspective or a marketing perspective.” Read more here.
In China’s saturated market, developing a distinct identity is where many homegrown brands are winning. And here, NEIWAI shines. Founded by Xiaolu Liu, the lifestyle brand has cultivated a strong connection with its audience by telling authentic stories and tackling social stereotypes.
Since the beginning, NEIWAI’s message has been centered on “feminine values,” such as female empowerment and natural beauty. The “No Body is Nobody” campaign, which documented women who had experienced body shaming, recently went viral for celebrating body positivity. Liu noted, “we aren’t dogmatic or pedagogical when we communicate with our customers, but prefer to be inspiring and encouraging.” Read more here.
Carol Zhou craves a challenge. That’s what drew her to Shiseido, where she went on to spearhead the beauty brand’s business innovation and investment office in China. After building her team from scratch, she’s now helping the Japanese group capture China’s dynamic consumer trends.
When asked about Shiseido’s partnerships with Meitu and Uniskin — companies that have invested in AI and DNA analysis, respectively — Zhou emphasized that personalization is the future. “Back when we didn’t have data on people, we would see one product to one thousand people,” Zhou said. “Now, with so much knowledge and data on each individual, we can accurately personalize the product, the experience, and the communication for each person.” Read more here.
With COVID-19 ramping up online shopping, Joanie Xie foresees the broader adoption of contactless payment. Head of Ant Financial’s US office, she’s already helping American companies tap this opportunity by integrating Alipay, Ant’s digital payment platform, into their China operations. This gives retailers access to just under one billion global users, Xie said.
But luxury should know Ant Financial is more than a payment provider. In addition to consumer metrics, the finance executive explained Ant can host multiple shopping campaigns on its platform, from 618 to 11.11. “We can also help brands educate themselves about these festivals, teach them the best ways to market their products, and showcase them on the app.” Read more here.
Over the past five years, Pooky Lee, founder of fashion curation studio ExhibitingFashion, has contributed to the blockbuster exhibitions of several luxury houses, including “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” and “Understanding Anna Sui: Fashion and Subculture Movement.” These curatorial events not only offer brands a fresh way to interact with consumers but also enrich brand equity.
And their future in China is bright, especially as people come out of COVID-19 craving physical connection. “Chinese audiences are well-educated, sophisticated, and thirsty for art and culture,” Lee said. However, as consumers attend more branded events and thus become more scrutinizing, it will be even more important for luxury to offer valuable content tailored to local viewers. Read more here.