- Aspiration-led Chinese luxury consumers aims to enhance their personal, cultural capital through globally relevant signifiers and exhibit a well-rounded awareness of value.
- Through combining Chinese cultural elements and modernity, Gucci is reimaging the future of luxury collaborations, with a vision to shaping the local pop culture scene.
- Gucci’s initiatives and partnership in the digital realm have laid the ground of a fashion-oriented metaverse.
2021 has seen a host of fashion and luxury brands step into the metaverse and the NFT marketplace. Gucci, for one, has been a pioneer in this evolving digital world, from virtual try-ons, collaborations with games, and E-sport organizations, to dropping virtual goods and auctioning the first NFT artwork.
On December 23, Gucci announced a new collaboration with Chinese trend IP Marsper (a virtual character which has been substantialized into collectible figurines), bridging the gap between luxury and that of popular culture. The launch is the brand’s latest move in their Gucci Good Game ecosystem, where gaming, virtual creations, collaborations, and lifestyle byproducts are progressively and organically unveiled to audiences worldwide. More importantly, it marks Gucci’s first-ever partnership with a Chinese IP, indicating the house’s dedication into tapping the country’s booming cultural consumption market.
Cultural significance is one of most important factors for this demographic of aspiration-led Chinese consumers, according to the report “Chinese Culture Consumers: The Future of Luxury” released by Jing Daily. This new generation aims to enhance their personal, cultural capital through globally relevant signifiers and exhibit a well-rounded awareness of value.
And Gucci has responded to this shifting mindset via its approach to gaming strategies, underlining diversity, inclusivity, self-expression, and communities across all activations. Here, Jing Daily explores how the house has been establishing a fashion-oriented metaverse to empower younger generations, and what the next step within its virtual matrix will be.
Reimaging the future of luxury collaborations
Marsper, established in 2020, is a representative trend IP owned and operated by the LEPOP Group in China. With “Born to Love” as its core value, Marsper emphasizes that individuals and communities become unique because of love. It has teamed up with artists from all over the world to explore the meaning of love and offer a new angle on how to think about it.
The collaboration between Gucci and the IP was introduced by the first three Marsper figures dressed in suits from Gucci’s Aria Collection. Posing in a flashy show space that framed the Gucci Aria Collection, Marsper maintains its attitude and details while interpreting Gucci’s signature style. Featuring a Gucci Double-G logo on the ear and a small red heart on the cheek, the virtual looks of Marsper seamlessly align with the luxury house’s eclectic aesthetic.
As shown in this crossover, Gucci is delving into China’s youth cultures and shouting out to local creative forces. This commitment is expected to resonate with today’s Chinese luxury shoppers who have been empowered by discretionary incomes and sophisticated tastes. They approach consumption with a distinct cultural awareness and a concept of luxury that sets them apart from their Western counterparts.
The past two years saw continued growth for Chinese brands and the rise of Guochao, which translates as “national trend,” while incorporating Chinese cultural elements in contemporary goods. In particular, local consumers, especially the younger generations, have shown surging patriotism as the pandemic rages on.
Moreover, China’s evolving sociocultural influence, along with its younger generation’s understanding of global pop culture and their upbringing — surrounded by online infrastructure — explains their attraction to cross-sector collaborations like Gucci x Marsper. Through combining Chinese cultural elements and modernity, Gucci is reimaging the future of luxury collaborations, with a vision to shaping the local pop culture scene.
A broader agenda beyond the metaverse hype
Though metaverse and NFTs have become the buzzwords of 2021, Gucci’s vision is beyond capitalizing on the hype. Its partnership with Marsper was conceived taking its cue from the character’s motto, “Born to Love,” epitomizing the undefinable and the fearlessness, while stressing fashion’s unique role as a powerful tool for individuality.
In its digital form, the series of artworks embrace the brand’s creative vision, opening an array of fresh possibilities to explore, as well as establishing a compelling dialogue between post-physical ownership, collections, and the burgeoning metaverse they live in.
Indeed, it’s not the first time that Gucci has collaborated with a virtual figure. The house’s first external partnership was with the Los Angeles-based avatar technology company, Genies, which allowed users to create their own avatars. Under this collaboration, Gucci users were able to dress their avatars in the latest brand digital apparel which were offered for sale. Similarly, on ZEPETO, a popular South Korean social media app (which is also available in China), where users can personalize their 3D digital characters from a photo of themselves, Gucci released pieces from its ready-to-wear collections for sale on the app in February 2021.
Over the past year, Gucci has partnered with Tennis Clash, The Sims, Genies, Roblox, Pokémon Go and Animal Crossing, in addition to its own Gucci Arcade, introduced in 2019, and its Sneaker Garage, launched in October 2020. All these initiatives and partnership have laid the ground of a fashion-oriented metaverse. And now, through teaming up with a pop IP from China, the house will further consolidate its dedication in the discourse and elevate its relevance to Chinese cultural consumers. We have reasons to believe that the launch is just a kick-off, and follow-up chapters and developments from the collaboration will surprise local cultural consumers in the near future and beyond.