Redefining luxury in China: Lessons from the Jing Daily China Luxury Summit

    Explore insights from the Jing Daily China Luxury Summit in Shanghai, where industry leaders discussed the intersection of luxury, culture, and cross-cultural communication.
    Chinese designer Tim Yip gave a speech on creating rich, multi-dimensional aesthetics. Image: Jing Daily
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    On May 22, the Jing Daily China Luxury Summit was held in Shanghai, bringing together industry experts to explore the complex connections between Chinese culture and the luxury market.

    The event included a keynote speech titled “Cultural odyssey: Exploring ‘new Orientalism’ aesthetic practices from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Lohengrin,” by Tim Yip, an Academy Award-winning art director, costume designer, and visual artist.

    A series of discussions then centered on the concept of jing zhi (精致), which encapsulates refinement and exquisiteness in Chinese culture.

    Charlie Gu, Deputy Publisher of Jing Daily and President of Jing Intelligence, led a panel examining new luxury industry dynamics.

    The panelists – Li Sen, Editorial Director of T Magazine China and Huasheng Media Group; Ma Xirui, a traditional Chinese incense culture practitioner and founder of Xunxi Studio; Wu Yixuan, Chair of the UCCA Foundation and Deputy General Manager of UCCA Lab; and Joyce Deng, Chief Marketing Officer of Edrington China – delved into the essence of jing zhi, its historical context, and its contemporary significance.

    Embracing cultural integration with authenticity#

    Yip’s keynote highlighted the profound importance of integrating diverse cultural elements to create rich, multi-dimensional aesthetics.

    He demonstrated this through his work on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the opera Lohengrin, which blends Chinese traditions with Western psychology.

    Yip emphasized the universal nature of human perception, which transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries. This approach allows for a more immersive and emotionally resonant artistic experience. For example, in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Yip’s exhibit on bronze ritual vessels without annotations allowed audiences to engage directly with the artifacts, garnering significant acclaim.

    Academy Award-winning art director, costume designer, and visual artist Tim Yip. Photo: Jing Daily
    Academy Award-winning art director, costume designer, and visual artist Tim Yip. Photo: Jing Daily

    Luxury brands can enhance their storytelling by deeply integrating cultural elements, creating products and experiences that resonate globally. By blending different cultural aesthetics, brands can offer unique and enriching experiences that appeal to a broad audience.

    Refining luxury in the contemporary Chinese context

    Discussion focused on the evolving concept of jing zhi in contemporary Chinese culture. Refinement, once perceived as an external quality, is now increasingly seen as an internal, personal experience.

    Deng noted that today's consumers prioritize personal feelings over societal perceptions of luxury. Li described refinement as a continuous, progressive state, adaptable to different life stages and cultural contexts.

    Wu pointed out that the concept of refinement has deep historical roots in Chinese culture, evident in the country’s literary and artistic traditions.

    The expression of refinement has evolved, its essence remains unchanged, drawing parallels between ancient practices and modern equivalents, Ma said. Understanding the historical and cultural significance of jing zhi can help brands connect more deeply with their audiences, offering a sense of continuity and cultural resonance.

    Panel participants discusses new luxury industry dynamics. Image: Jing Daily
    Panel participants discusses new luxury industry dynamics. Image: Jing Daily

    Media as a platform for cultural dialogue#

    In addition to shifting definitions of luxury, the panelists analyzed the evolving role of the media in shaping cultural narratives and facilitating dialogue. Li observed that the traditional role of the media has shifted from merely disseminating information to fostering cultural connections and discussion. It now functions as a platform for collective exploration and understanding.

    Deng highlighted the media’s role in creating cultural topics and connecting different viewpoints, which is crucial for engaging audiences and promoting cultural understanding.

    Gu explained that the term jing zhi is a useful tool for constructing a broader and more culturally nuanced understanding of refinement and consumer aspirations.

    Wu pointed to the example of UCCA Lab curating the Arc’teryx Museum in Shanghai for the brand.

    “We have been empowering brands with the language of art, helping them tell their brand story,” Deng said. “When bringing international brands to China, the choice has always been how to ensure consistency and relevance.”

    She emphasized the “commonality of human nature” and pointed to a series of marketing strategies launched by Macallan for its 200th anniversary under the Edrington Group as a case in point. The interactivity of human nature “can transcend time and space, language, and social class,” she added.

    The summit concluded with agreement on the importance for brands of participating in, and contributing to reshaping the idea of luxury, establishing themselves as thought leaders, and fostering deeper connections with audiences. This approach not only enhances brand visibility, but also builds cultural relevance and boosts consumer loyalty.

    Mos Wu, Vionna Fiducia Theja, and Agnes Wu contributed to this report.

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