At London Fashion Week, Social Media Plays A Larger Role Than Ever

The Jing Daily Fashion Week Score, which, through a range of parameters, evaluates how a brand’s collection resonates with the Chinese audience, moves to London Fashion Week. 

The shadow of the ongoing Covid-19 virus could be felt throughout LFW, as the global fashion industry continues to grapple with its wide ranging effects, from travel restrictions and temporary work bans to the cancellation of garment deliveries and runway shows. The majority of Chinese celebrities, KOLs and buyers from the mainland were again absent from the London shows, and we have considered this in our ranking. 

With mobility in China restricted, digital reach has become more important than ever on the ground. The British Fashion Council (BFC) partnered with BoF China to share content from the shows with remote Chinese consumers. Yet overall, most brands were still not making the best use of their Chinese social media, and this is, sadly, a lost opportunity. 

For London Fashion Week Autumn 2020, Jing Daily looks at brands who have a stake in the Chinese market and who stand to gain from heightened efforts. Burberry was the stand out, while brands like Simone Rocha and JW Anderson benefited greatly from organic content. MM6 was also strong and Roland Mouret presented the most untapped potential. 

The Jing Daily Fashion Week Score is based on the following parameters:

  • Model representation: evaluates representation of Chinese models on the runway.
  • Digital impact: evaluates Chinese netizen reception and engagement on leading social media platforms including Weibo, WeChat, and Little Red Book.
  • KOL & celebrity visibility: considers star power associated with the brand through strategic KOL and celebrity partnerships.
  • Special brand efforts: considers special programs or efforts on a brand’s part to speak to the Chinese audience.
  • Design context: a qualitative assessment of how the brand’s collection will speak to the Chinese audience based on current trends and preferences.
  • Brand history: considers existing brand history in China, including overall presence, social reach, number of stores, earning trends and brand missteps.



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

This year, Burberry announced it would present a runway show in China, and this is the collection that was planned for the Chinese market (with further looks to be added and customised for the re-show in China later this year) but it’s become another casualty of the Covid-19 virus. So where does this leave the British powerhouse when two-fifths of the company’s revenue comes from Chinese consumers? LFW was it’s time to regain its shine and it did. Their official Weibo account — with 1 million followers — featured nine posts about the show and a 24-hour limited edition “B Series” handbag that was launched on its WeChat Mini Program to coincide with the show. The collection, an Indian-inspired exercise in sophisticated tailoring and innovative cuts, double-layered coats, some with trailing chiffon sashes, was met with enthusiasm online. Stylist and fashion KOL @Fil小白, with 4 million followers on Weibo, highlighted the eyewear online, while @AnnyFan loved the classic Burberry check. From a successful CNY campaign to a proactive acknowledgement of the virus outbreak, Burberry continues to maintain effective communication with its valued Chinese customers. 



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

The Irish designer scored impressively in our previous LFW ranking and her current collection continues her rich design language, albeit without the subtle Chinese touches this time. Nonetheless, her fuller silhouettes resonate well with young, millennial consumers, and she scored well again this season. While the religious overtones might go unnoticed, this strong line-up of occasion dresses in oyster satin and pink rose prints struck a chord. Simone Rocha has still to set up an official Weibo account, though the brand is available in China in the Dover Street Market in Beijing and Galeries Lafayette in Shanghai; it also has 2,151 posts on Little Red Book. The runway looks from have been posted by many influential fashion KOLs and their followers, which has had a highly positive knock-on effect for the designer. The KOL Dipsy, with 7 million followers on Weibo, garnered the most traction for Rocha, with a single post receiving almost 300 reposts and 830 likes. Additional posts from the likes of @Perkk (613K followers), @FASHION发现 (five million followers), and @戴莫利So_Great (one million followers) were all well-shared and liked. 



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

Chinese fans were out in force for this circular presentation MM6 Maison Margiela which aimed to reveal the various stages of the fashion show — from runway to backstage. This season, it collaborated with outerwear brand The North Face, fusing technical precision and functionality with concept-drive design. As Jing Daily has recently reported, the puffer opportunity is big in China and these colourful, down-crafted capes and coats should score big for the Belgian diffusion line. Indeed the collaboration was particularly well-received online through fashion KOLs such as @高姝GaoMer and @feka大王, and streetwear influencer @SnakeLab. Eager to connect with China, besides their standalone boutique in Beijing, MM6 can be purchased through Maison Margiela Tmall flagship store, which opened last October. For now, MM6 still remains under the official Maison Margiela WeChat account but with over 50,000 posts on app, Little Red Book, MM6 stands to gain much for its  continued efforts with the growing market of young consumers in China.



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

The collaboration between Tommy Hilfiger and Lewis Hamilton has seen expanding followers among Chinese streetwear shoppers since it came out in 2018. The fourth installment passed on that hype from Hamilton’s home, London, to China through social media. This season’s “Tommy Now” follows the identical “See Now Buy Now” model innovated by Hilfiger, collaborating with China’s e-commerce giant to launch the newest styles presented in the catwalk. The brand’s proactive involvement during the Covid-19 virus crisis, from sharing its parent company PVH Corp.’s donation to support China to sending out warm regards on Valentine’s Day, effectively won over Chinese customers. Shawn Yue, the brand’s Greater China Spokesperson, attended the show despite the general absence of Chinese celebrities and influencers. Given his extensive influence among Chinese streetwear consumers, the show gained substantial attention on social media, seeing a spike of the hashtag #Tommynow on Weibo the day after.



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

JW Anderson is no stranger to Chinese social media and seems to have an active and alert strategy in place. The brand has been vocal during the Covid-19 virus outbreak and made a Weibo post to show its solidarity with Chinese citizens during the crisis. It is also currently running a CNY Mini Program through February 24. However, the brand continues to struggle with making a strong impression online. Official posts on Weibo failed to gain much traction despite the show being available via livestream from the brand’s Chinese website. But, what reactions the show did receive were positive; in particular, the bag and cape look debuted in the collection were both well-received by Chinese audiences. Posts by fashion KOL @CheeryGun and @Danso旦 gained some traction at least, although small by Chinese standards. Celebrities such as Emily Qi, Kate Zhu, and Susie Lau all attended. 



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

Victoria Beckham uses her personal Weibo account, which has two million users, also for her brand. Moreover, her immediate family resonates with her Chinese consumers and brings higher brand awareness to her company. For example, her daughter’s image alone generated traction online after being posted by fashion KOL @悠然米拉 (with three million followers). Additional runway coverage came from @小象王国 and @summer的连衣裙VV. The brand is available on high-end fashion e-retailers like Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi, which last year launched on the mainland. This allows more consumers easier access to the label and has resulted in 1,600 posts on Little Red Book. Like so many Western brands doing business in China, it could be doing more, but luckily for Beckham, she can leverage her family name to ensure she resonates organically throughout China. 



Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.

A newcomer to our ranking, Roland Mouret is no stranger to the Chinese market: A decade ago the brand collaborated with Lane Crawford. While he does not yet have an official presence in China, last year he presented his first runway show in Beijing, illustrating his commitment to China. While his online presence is lacking — both his Weibo and WeChat account has not been updated since October 2019, any online interactions the show received were positive. The most notable online reaction was from @Tangyimem with 532K followers. His chic and polished designs have a deconstructed silhouette that should be quite appealing. His recent focus on sustainability should also speak to conscientious Chinese consumers. In the past, celebrities like Jiang Shuying and Tong Liya have worn the label to events, and this latest collection has looks for on and off the red carpet. As long as putting more effort in marrying its offline efforts with its online presence, more extensive potential in China’s market awaits the brand.

Reported by Gemma Williams and Wenzhuo Wu.