Can 40 Years of Michael Kors Still Woo China?

What Happened: A stalwart of American fashion, Michael Kors launched his Fall 2021 Collection today digitally. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the brand pulled out all the stops for a glitzy collection that was shot in New York’s Theater District. A lifelong theater lover, Kors used the opportunity to highlight the difficulties faced by the performing arts and entertainment professionals at this time. 

For Chinese audiences, the event was accessible via a live telecast at Shanghai’s Paramount Theatre, which included an introduction to the brand’s history and interviews with actress Lareina Song and singer Wang FeiFei. The one hour livestream garnered 10 million views on Weibo; the hashtags #MK40AnniversaryShow and #MKC2021AutumnWinterCollection have had 72 million and 34 million views, respectively.  

The Jing Take: The collection combined comfort and glamour and included some head-to-toe looks in red. Interestingly, it also included 16 reissued statement pieces from the brand’s history, featuring embedded QR Codes. At a time when luxury is tethering on the brink of dabbling in NFTs, this was a more concrete way to play with the digitization of fashion products. This novel effort, however, seems to have been overlooked by Chinese  consumers, who it appeared, were more interested in supporting their favorite idols. 

Michael Kors tapped supermodels Precious Lee (left) and Bella Hadid (right) to walk in his 40th anniversary runway show. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Kors

 In fact, the majority of comments paid little attention to the clothing, and instead, focused on showing love for stars. And this is where Michael Kors excelled, with beloved global brand ambassador, actress Gao Yuanyuan, who boasts 49 million fans, and the actor Wu Lei, who sports 43 million followers. Then, there was Wang Feifei, a popular Chinese singer, actress, and entertainer, who came through for the designer with a glowing post despite her modest following of 8 million, and even niche fashion KOL 欣言咔咔 with 677,000 followers, amplified the positive accolades for the collection. Given this, the brand is now hoping to turn the halo effect of beloved stars into actual purchases for their Fall 2021 Collection and beyond — perhaps for another 40 years. 

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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.