On June 26, French luxury house Celine closed Paris Fashion Week Men’s with a bang. The presentation of its Spring 2023 men’s collection — including many bare-chested models — was eclipsed only by its starry guestlist, now trending on China’s social media. Fans’ fixation on K-pop stars, especially Lisa from girl group Blackpink (dubbed the “Celine Princess”) and V (Kim Tae-hyung) from South Korean boyband BTS means that Celine is receiving some serious traffic. Lisa’s post-show antics, i.e. pole dancing at the afterparty, have created a viral hashtag and a virtual battleground between netizens. The appearance of actor Park Bo-gum was also notable. The collective hashtag #park bogum, kim tae hyung, Lisa at Paris Fashion Week# currently has 150 million views.
The Jing Take
Chinese ambassadors are not the only way to appeal to local consumers. South Korean idols are much loved by Gen Z and have massive, fiercely loyal fanbases. Blackpink’s Lisa is an especially notable case. Having appeared in domestic variety shows such as Youth With You, she has significant exposure and was announced as Celine’s global ambassador in September 2020. Since then the young idol, originally from Thailand but essentially adopted by Korea, has continued to drive commercial success for the Hedi Slimane-fronted vehicle on the mainland.
Although the debate over whether to use homegrown KOLs or not continues, K-pop stars do present a more than viable alternative — the ongoing political issues between the two countries also seem to be reconciling slightly. Whether it's (unpredictable) real-life ambassadors or virtual ones, brands can’t escape using KOLs here. Slimane was given a clear mission by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault when he joined the label in 2018: to double or triple Celine’s current 1 billion sales within five years and expand product categories. Four years have passed and Celine is now one of the fastest-growing fashion companies in the world. According to analysts, it surpassed the 2-billion-euro mark for 2021 in revenue terms. This is chiefly down to the remarkable success of its ready-to-wear and leather goods lines. And a generous sprinkling of K-pop’s undeniably bankable stardust can’t be hurting.
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.