Down Jackets and Snow Lattes: Winter Goes Aspirational in China

    With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing just around the corner, brands in China have sought to tap rising consumer interest in all things winter-related.
    Manner Coffee has made a name for itself through innovative limited-edition beverages. Image: Manner Weibo
      Published   in Fashion

    Key Takeaways:#

    • The explosive growth of China's winter sports and winterwear markets is making the market irresistible for international brands.
    • Luxury brands are increasingly turning to winter sports athletes to influence a new generation of snowboarding or ski enthusiasts.
    • Chinese brands are eager to tap the aspirational lifestyle aspect of hitting the slopes, via new affordable and social media-shareable products.

    With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing just around the corner, brands both global and domestic have sought to tap rising consumer interest in all things winter-related – finding particular success in promoting on-the-slopes fashion and lifestyle. In recent months, we’ve seen luxury brands promote winter sports collections via in-store activations or pop-ups like Prada’s “Prada On Ice” collection pop-up at the SKP Atrium in Beijing or Moncler’s unseasonal pop-up in tropical Sanya, while others have turned to local collaborations to increase brand awareness. And while China turns up the heat on the likes of Canada Goose amid an ongoing media, tech, and celebrity crackdown, the potential of China's winter sports and winter fashion market makes it simply impossible to resist for international brands in need of growth.

    Earlier this month, Munich-based “athluxury” brand Bogner announced a joint venture with Chinese puffer-jacket powerhouse Bosideng, that will encompass a digital presence and the opening of approximately 80 stores by 2026. The deal could be a boon for the core Bogner label as well as the brand’s Fire + Ice sub-brand, which is aimed at younger consumers who may be newer to winter sports or simply interested in the aesthetic. But Prada, Bogner, Dior, Chloé, and a raft of Chinese-owned global brands like Arc’teryx, Salomon, and Atomic are far from the only ones looking to capture a piece of China’s fast-growing winter sports market.

    Burberry: Promoting the Snowboarder-Influencer#

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    For the latest installment of its “Burberry Generation” brand film series, the British brand turned to China's snowboarder Zhang Yiwei. This year’s winter-focused edition comes after a 2020 volume highlighting three drummers – Shi Lu, Yang Yuhao, and Ju Yiming – and their journeys with music, and earlier brand films promoting young Chinese installation artists and photographers.

    In the latest “Burberry Generation” brand film, Zhang Yiwei glides and flies through the snow in a Burberry classic check down jacket and ski goggles, discussing the "heartbeat,” "rhythm," and "movement" of snowboarding, making the activity in the process highly aspirational for affluent city-dwellers and including Zhang in what has become a new breed of influencers that could set the marketing tone for 2022.

    Manner Coffee: Après Ski in a Cup#

    Manner Coffee x Songhua Lake and Beidahu. Image: Manner Coffee Weibo
    Manner Coffee x Songhua Lake and Beidahu. Image: Manner Coffee Weibo

    Home-grown coffee chains are proven innovators in what has rapidly become one of the world’s largest and most crowded coffee markets. A local coffee brand to watch is Shanghai-based Manner, which exploded in a matter of years from one streetside stall in 2015 to more than 300 locations throughout mainland China today. Manner’s retail footprint nearly doubled from June to October of this year after the company — flush with a cash injection from the likes of Singapore’s Temasek, Bytedance, and the venture arm of Meituan — opened an astonishing 150 new locations in rapid succession. Though little-known outside of China, Manner already boasts a whopping $4.5 billion valuation and is reportedly planning to raise up to $300 million next year via a Hong Kong IPO.

    Two key drivers of Manner’s success are its ability to collaborate with popular, influential local brands and develop interesting beverages that instantly become social media sensations. Recent efforts include a collaboration with the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on special-edition Banana Latte to promote the UCCA exhibition Becoming Andy Warhol, and a sky-blue “Panda Latte” in partnership with the Shanghai-based lifestyle brand THE BEAST. For its latest collaborative beverage, Manner Coffee partnered with two major Chinese ski resorts, Songhua Lake and Beidahu, opening ski cafes that offered two special-edition “Snow Season” beverages, a cinnamon apple pie latte and an apple pie latte, priced at just RMB 20 ($3.14).

    If Manner’s other special edition coffees are any indication, the Snow Latte could entice the FOMO crowd to hit the slopes if only to get their hands on a cup to post on Douyin or Xiaohongshu.

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