In “Chinese Whispers,” we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that have yet to make it into the English language.
In this week’s edition, we discuss:
- Cai Xukun - the new face of Prada in China
- Saint Laurent's second Chinese flagship store
- Valextra CEO on Chinese consumers' obsession with sneakers
The Italian luxury brand Prada, which in the past rarely liked to associate itself with a specific celebrity, finally succumbed to the allure of young Chinese male idols. Popular as a marketing tool to engage the country's youth, Prada has made this decision at a time when the brand urgently needs to rejuvenate its image so as to restore the growth in China.
On May 31, Prada's official Weibo account named Chinese singer and actor Cai Xukun, who was born in 1998, to be its Chinese brand spokesperson. The announcement was made ahead of the brand's Men's Spring 2020 fashion show in Shanghai, which, for the first time, will be held outside of Milan, the brand's homeland.
According to Jing Daily x R3 celebrity popularity rankings, Cai was the most popular Chinese celebrity on social media in March and April. He rose to fame by participating in Idol Producer, a hip reality talent show in 2017. He is now a member of a boyband formed with other show participants named Nine Percent and also acts as a solo artist on many occasions. There are some controversies around Cai, due to his performance skills, style, and personality. When he was selected as the Chinese ambassador of the NBA League, he received backlash from online citizens who saw a huge mismatch between him and the brand.
However, Cai's popularity is indisputable. By the time of this publication, Prada's post to introduce Cai Xukun, which came as several videos shot by Chinese artist Cai Fei, has garnered an average of 51,220 likes and 15,987 comments, surpassing the brand's other posts. Meanwhile, online reactions to the partnership are mostly positive for the moment, with lots of users showing excitement about it and praising Prada's choice. Whether it will truly transform into a deal that lifts Prada up in the competitive Chinese market remains to be seen.
French luxury brand Saint Laurent unveiled its second flagship store in China this week. Located within Beijing's Guomao CBD district, the brand hosted a grand opening to celebrate the store launch. The move signals Saint Laurent wanting to ramp up its retail network in China. For now, Chinese consumers can find the brand on a number of Chinese e-commerce platforms like Farfetch China and JD.com.
Sara Ferrero, CEO of the Italian luxury handbag brand Valextra, told the Chinese fashion site luxe.co that its sneaker collection, launched in 2017, became the force to drive consumers to the brand. The collection, which was only available in stores in Beijing, Tokyo, and Milan, sold out in less than two months since its release. The brand plans to have more sneaker-related projects in the future, including a collaborative capsule collection with a famous designer.