A show by designer Camilla at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Australia. (Flickr/Eva Rinaldi)
Designers presenting at the world’s top fashion weeks may not want to give up their runway slots in places like London and Milan, but they’re increasingly working to find ways to expose Chinese consumers to their high-profile fashion shows. While this can prove challenging when the events are held thousands of miles away, a new deal forged between Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week organizer IMG and WeChat owner Tencent means that they may be soon be taking a cue from Australia.
According to Women’s Wear Daily, IMG announced Thursday that it has signed a multi-year strategic partnership with Tencent to broadcast video content of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, which takes place in Sydney from April 6 to 10. The partnership involves at least four hours of exclusive on-demand video broadcast on Tencent’s Weibo microblogging platform throughout the week. In addition, Tencent will be sending Beijing-based designer and social media key opinion leader (KOL) Lan Wu to anchor Tencent’s video coverage of the week, which will include designer interviews, street style, and coverage of tourist hotspots.
In recent years, brands have been coming up with increasingly innovative and tech-savvy ways to attract Chinese viewers to their shows. Many labels, such as Dior, Valentino, and Hugo Boss, have opted to hold separate off-season shows in Shanghai or Beijing to ensure that they reach a Chinese audience in-person. Meanwhile, others have opted to use technology to promote their shows in China. During the fall season, Burberry and Vivienne Tam both partnered with WeChat to promote their respective London and New York fashion shows.
Burberry has been especially known for embracing technology to promote its London-based shows in China. In addition to providing an online live-stream for its F/W 2014 show, the brand promoted it through a WeChat campaign that allowed fans to receive show updates, information about the collections, and backstage photos of Chinese celebrity attendees.
Although brands typically must take on their own China promotions, IMG’s new partnership may be enticing for designers hoping to gain China exposure. Exclusive to Australia for now, the Tencent partnership may have future implications for additional Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in locations across the world, including New York and Berlin. As IMG fights for relevance in competition with “satellite” fashion show organizers that have been scooping up big-name designers in places like New York, China market exposure would be a major plus for the company.