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    Etro x Ren Jialun, Absolut China x Samuel Ross, plus more from Byredo: China collabs of the week

    This week in China, the trending brand collaboration movement is talent-based, from movie stars to fashion designers and painters. All grounds are covered.
    From jersey hoodies and joggers to t-shirts and bucket hats, the Etro collection is a streetwear offering connecting with Chinese youth culture. Photo: Etro
      Published   in Fashion

    Those who follow China’s luxury industry will be well aware of the plethora of risks that come with collaborating with celebrities, artists and other key opinion leaders (KOLs). But will that ever stop brands tapping into their fanbases? As this week’s brand collaboration spotlights indicate, probably not.

    The past week has seen family-owned Italian house Etro launch a capsule collection with Chinese heartthrob movie star Ren Jialun, as well as Byredo collaborating with local painter Zhang Zipiao, and Absolut Vodka leveraging the streetwear fandom behind artist and designer Samuel Ross.

    Below, we analyze each of these collaborations, as seen in the Collabs & Drops newsletter. Subscribe here to receive these updates straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

    Etro x RJL#

    Watch on YouTube

    Date

    July 20

    Product

    Capsule collection

    Social context

    The dedicated Weibo hashtag #ETROXRJL# has 93.531 million reads so far.

    Verdict

    The foundation for this collaboration was already set up, with Chinese actor Ren Jialun having been working with Etro since 2022, when he was named as brand ambassador.

    As the talent has been a household name in the mainland ever since he starred in the historical drama The Glory of the Tang Dynasty in 2017, creating a capsule that the brand states is “Etro’s world through Ren’s eyes,” is sure to resonate with his fans.

    There are risks to collaborating with KOLs, but when they’re as popular as Ren, it’s an appetizing opportunity for Etro, especially for a China-exclusive collaboration.

    As of 2022, the brand operated seven stores in China, though it is evidently aiming for expansion there.

    Inspired by the light of the stars in the night sky, the project springs from a dialogue between the house’s creative director, Marco De Vincenzo, and Ren discussing the meaning of the stars and their representation in the new capsule.

    Samuel Ross x Absolut China#

    Date

    July 20 (pop-up until July 26)

    Product

    China-inspired Absolut Vodka bottle and gift set, promoted at week-long pop-up at K11.

    Social context

    On Weibo, the hashtag #SamuelRossXAbsolut# has 584,000 reads.

    Verdict

    As a trailblazer on the luxury streetwear scene, A-Cold-Wall* founder Samuel Ross is a great choice of collaborator for Absolut to connect with Chinese Gen Z, and that is exactly the aim of this product.

    In a statement, Absolut said the collaboration is a way of demonstrating a “shared pursuit of cultural integration and co-creation, providing the Chinese trendsetting youth with a consumer experience that blends fashion and better integrates into the lives of China’s young generation.”

    For Ross, the promotional launch in China is an opportunity to connect with more fans, extending his own consumer base. Absolut, on the other hand, benefits from the association with fashion, and this is a move that helps the brand create longevity.

    Byredo x Zhang Zipiao x Wallpaper#

    Date

    July 17

    Product

    No Man’s Land square scarves

    Social context

    On Weibo, #BYREDO无人之境# has 107,000 reads.

    Verdict

    The No Man’s Land fragrance was launched in 2015 — so collaboration could be a way to refresh an existing product, and partnering with a local talent is a reliable way to connect with a market like China.

    Furthermore, as a Gen Z/millennial artist (born in 1993), Zhang enables Byredo to uphold its youthful, and creatively contemporary brand identity.

    The artist was invited to design scarves that reflect the mood of the floral scent, adding layers to the product. Not only does the partnership allow the brand’s identity to be translated to China, it also simultaneously shows support of emerging Chinese talent.

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