Shanghai-based talent incubator Labelhood has found a new way to promote collections by emerging Chinese designers. On June 1, which is Children’s Day in China, Labelhood asked Chinese millennials and Gen-Zers on social media to visit its newest Shanghai pop-up, called Cute Shop. Once there, they can take pictures with balloon animals, eat gelato, and shop for the latest summer collections from independent designers.
Located at Labelhood’s flagship store in Shanghai’s city center, Cute Shop (June 1-15) features T-shirts from emerging Chinese designer brands such as Fabric Porn, Shushu/Tong, Private Policy, The Flocks, and ADHD. But at the physical shop and Labelhood’s Tmall store, a lot of other summer pieces are available as well.
“We are using content to drive retail,” said Labelhood’s founder Tasha Liu, who has been producing runway shows for emerging designers during Shanghai Fashion Week since 2016. “We are planning to do frequent in-store events that aren’t so complicated to execute, but they will have to speak to customers and have the appeal to bring them into the store,” she said.
Unlike the two Chinese Valentine’s Days 520 and Qixi, luxury brands rarely tap into Children’s Day for promotional events, but young consumers seem eager to make it a day of their own. “Who says adults can’t celebrate Children’s Day? I want to get a children’s meal at KFC and buy a cute dress and have ice cream at night,” commented one WeChat follower under Labelhood’s posted article about its online-to-offline campaign.
The pop-up is decorated with childlike drawings of red flowers all across the floor, props, and shop windows, and customers are encouraged to take pictures in a makeshift shop photo booth with various balloon animals. On Saturday, June 6, over 100 different customer groups rang the store’s doorbell, and the line at the door was 20 people long at peak hours, Liu said.
The T-shirts featured in the social campaign were carefully curated for the brand’s 100,000-plus followers on WeChat and 400,000 followers on Weibo, most of whom are between the ages of 16 to 25, according to Liu. Fabric Porn Founder Zhao Chenxi said he picked the Wahaha AD Calcium milk (a yogurt drink) logo for one of his T-shirts because it’s “a cultural symbol for millennials,” adding that he thought it would resonate with many Chinese.
A millennial himself, Zhao, along with two of his friends, modeled for the Cute Shop campaign while wearing his shirt designs and drinking AD Calcium milk. He noted that people walking by the shoot approached them to ask where they could get the T-shirt. “Grown-ups used to be kids, too,” he told Jing Daily. “No one wants to admit that they’re growing old — they want to keep their innocence.”
The photoshoot was done by Labelhood on the store’s neighboring streets, but this wasn’t just done for convenience. Located in a quaint neighborhood that also hosts old-style residential houses, restaurants, and a second Labelhood store called A Surname, the brand always wanted to share its neighborhood with its customers, Liu noted. “Everyone in our community has their charm, whether it’s employees of Labelhood or their friends,” she said, “and they all have a chance to be our ambassadors and part of our content. I believe this approach is more relatable for our customers.”
If people wanted the pop-up’s gelato, provided by Labelhood’s neighboring gelato shop ‘Dip in gelato’, they would need to either spend over $424 (3,000 yuan) during the day or else take and post at least nine photos on Weibo or Little Red Book. Liu mentioned that during the brand’s rose-themed 520 pop up, customer posts on Little Red Book were crucial in bringing new people in the door.
“The young people in China have been witnessing the country’s changes, which are full of hope,” Liu said. “So I think they are more likely to see things with warmth and have positive reactions to cute things. We will have more pop-ups in the future, where designers will be the main characters, and we will continue to come up with themes on important holidays where people need resonance.”