H&M Has Just Done What?

What Happened: H&M has announced it will release a collection with the independent Chinese brand Pronounce on April 8. The collaboration is part of its premium streetwear collection, Blank Staples, which will be available at some physical stores around the world, as well as, H&M’s Chinese website and app, WeChat store, and official flagship store on Tmall boutique. Pronounce, helmed by duo Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, have used saturated color blocks and embroidery to showcase the inspiration behind the collection, namely, Dunhuang’s Crescent Lake and traditional Chinese fairy tales. 

Jing Take: In the wake of COVID-19, H&M has been doubling down on the mainland, no doubt following reports of dramatic sales declines in the country during 2020. Plus, the rise of local competitors like Shein and international companies such as UNIQLO have been cutting into H&M’s market share as well. So what better way to reengage this important market than with the flavor of the month — a Chinese designer brand collaboration? 

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For nearly two decades, the fast-fashion giant has democratized designer fashion by bringing iterations from big stars to the high street. Engineering high profile partnerships, for example, with the Irish designer Simone Rocha, has boosted its credibility among young consumers – she especially benefits from the halo effect on the mainland. And it’s the second time H&M has chosen to pair up with a designer from China: In 2019, it tapped local Gen Z hero Angel Chen for a 45 piece capsule available in Asia and Canada. 

On the other hand, Pronounce has a proven international track record: two partnering’s with Diesel, numerous outings at London Fashion Week, and a combined European education (London and Italy). An endorsement such as this not only confirms the importance of China’s consumer market, but also screams the screams the viability of Chinese design to win fans around the world.

Pronounce x Diesel unisex capsule collection. Photo: Courtesy of Diesel

Luxury brands who are still mining Chinese heritage for authentic connections (or more likely quick gains) should take note too: if you want insights into how to combine cultural motifs for a streetwear audience look no further. This is what young consumers in China and beyond are buying. 

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.

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