Juicy Couture’s New China Strategy Starts with STAFFONLY

Key Takeaways:

  • The range of American diner-inspired womenswear combines Juicy Couture’s glossy, bubblegum aesthetic with STAFFONLY’s off-kilter, artistic designs — a perfect merger for China’s Gen-Z luxury consumers.

  • Juicy Couture has fewer followers than STAFFONLY on Weibo, thus gaining more relevance among China’s digitally engaged consumers is a clear benefit for the California brand.

  • In this collaboration, Juicy Couture upholds the all-American identity it became famous for while merging with local design talent rather than being inauthentically Chinese.

In the early 2000s, Juicy Couture’s velour and rhinestone-embellished tracksuits uniformed America’s most famous “it-girls,” cementing the now-26-year-old brand’s position within global popular culture. It has since relied on that reputation to thrive within the Asian market, never having collaborated with a Chinese label despite owning 15 stores in China, a partnership with the ImagineX Group (established in 2014), and a Greater China licensing deal with Semna, announced in 2019. But that has changed, with the Californian brand launching a womenswear collection with the Shanghai-based menswear label STAFFONLY on September 24.

Founded by university friends Shimo Zhou and Une Yea in 2015, STAFFONLY is most known for crafting contemporary cuts that contest the generic definition of masculinity via slightly avant-garde, tongue-in-cheek streetwear. The Semir Group’s corporate planning director & Juicy Couture brand director, WenYa Zhou, said the young Chinese brand’s willingness to break boundaries and seek inspiration from unexpected elements of everyday life inspired the collection.

“The collaboration with STAFFONLY is injecting a vibrant and creative energy into Juicy Couture and can support us in strategically reaching wider audiences in China,” said Zhou to Jing Daily on how Juicy Couture trusted STAFFONLY’s ability to produce a “new and playful” collection.

The collaborative range of American diner-inspired womenswear combines Juicy Couture’s glossy, bubblegum aesthetic with STAFFONLY’s off-kilter, artistic designs — a style that perfectly caters to China’s Gen-Z luxury consumers.

Juicy Couture x STAFFONLY

Juicy Couture has fewer followers than STAFFONLY on Weibo, thus gaining more relevance among China’s digitally engaged consumers is a clear benefit for the California brand. And working with a progressive, local label to reach Chinese consumers has proven successful thus far, as 26-year-old fashion blogger Viola’s promotion of the collaboration on Weibo won thousands of likes and comments. Meanwhile, Juicy Couture’s post currently has under five likes and comments on Weibo.

In the process of trying to strengthen its presence in China, Juicy Couture upholds the all-American identity it became famous for while merging with local design talent rather than being inauthentically Chinese. As one-half of STAFFONLY, Shimo said, the collection combines the Juicy L.A. lifestyle and its own inspirations. “We especially thought about a California road trip and the typical retro diners we would encounter on this journey along with fictional narratives and design methodologies.”

The designers crafted witty twists on foods like sundaes, milkshakes, and strawberry tarts, diving into Juicy Couture’s world with a new perspective. “The collection was intended to be full of textures, expressing a youthful energy that could fit right into the new generation consumer’s wardrobe,” Shimo said. “We were really attracted by the imagination behind the word ‘JUICY’ itself and the enormous possibilities and meanings that could be developed from it. It means energetic, full of textures, youth, freshness, femininity, etc. STAFFONLY always aims to create work and stimulate curiosity based on interesting vocabularies.”

Having STAFFONLY reimagine Juicy Couture’s established image not only helps attract a new base of high-fashion consumers to the American brand, it also contributes to how China perceives it. Ultimately, consider it a public refresh of Juicy Couture’s California girl energy, infused with millennial Chinese identity. We can expect to see more of this collaboration method in place as Western brands evolve their connection to their Chinese consumers.

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