In October 2020, six months after Wuhan emerged from a strict lockdown of 76 days, Louis Vuitton unveiled the month-long, free-of-charge exhibition See LV . It acted as a refresher for the city which had suffered from the pandemic’s first outbreak. Now, less than two years later, it’s opened Louis Vuitton& in Qingdao (known as China’s Sailing City) to mark another restart. This new showcase runs from May 20 to July 1 at Qingdao’s iconic landmark Olympic Sailing Center.
Louis Vuitton continues its journey in China with a new presence at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, on the heels of the exhibition’s Shenzhen stop (swipe left). Photo: Louis Vuitton
Given the ongoing uncertainties in Shanghai and Beijing amid COVID disruptions, global luxury houses have attached greater importance to the emerging markets beyond the first-tier cities in China. Even before this latest round of COVID spikes, Louis Vuitton was a pioneer of this trend, eyeing major cities and regions with high potential. From the See LV exhibition in Wuhan and Hangzhou, to Louis Vuitton& in Shenzhen and now Qingdao, the French house has introduced its 160 years of heritage to broad audiences in a bid for potential new customers in these regional markets.
Elsewhere, the luxury leader also unveiled its Maison at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li, Chengdu, the third Louis Vuitton Maison in Mainland China and its fourth store in the city. The timing of the soft-opening coincided with the approaching Chinese New Year, allowing the house to present a special installation featuring a gigantic, textured tiger tail at the storefront to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.
Now, this latest exhibition continues its journey from Shenzhen to Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center on May 20, marking the house’s first significant offline initiatives since COVID hit in March 2022. Here, Jing Daily offers a snapshot of the spectacular presentation and reports on how it showcases Louis Vuitton’s long-term strategic shift in China as well as the house’s confidence in the market.
The second stop of the traveling exhibition, Qingdao is located in eastern Shandong province — a port city known for its rich history, city parks, and beaches bordering the Yellow Sea. With a captivating coastline and well-known beer culture, it’s one of the most popular domestic travel destinations. To maximize its appeal, the local government announced an official scheme in April to facilitate the city’s development: promoting industry and tourism, and billing it as a world-famous cultural and creative hub as well as a coastal travel destination.
And even without these policies, China’s Sailing City is a perfect match for Louis Vuitton’s chic branding. We saw a playful reminder of this on May 20, when sailing boats with Louis Vuitton& designs set sail in the port: a meeting of Qingdao’s seafaring heritage and the house’s travel roots, as well as a signal of optimism and confidence in China during this unusual period.
To commemorate the opening, the house also rolled out a variety of outdoor advertising around the city’s century-old Liyuan Buildings, a historical architecture with cultural significance, as well as bus stations and additional sailing boats. Alongside these, a series of online initiatives were launched to elevate the visiting experience and drive offline traffic. The brand collaborated with Fang Suo Bookstore in Qingdao to engage local cultural communities through the bookstore’s membership programs and social media channels.
Diversifying online and offline footprints in China
The free exhibition displays over 180 items: from Louis Vuitton’s early twentieth-century special-order trucks to iconic monogram bags reworked by renowned artists and designers.
The house invited celebrities from different areas to record audio tours which can be accessed via the show’s dedicated WeChat Mini Program. Participating talents include artists Cao Fei, designer Zhou Chenchen, actor Bai Jingting, and the popular influencer Gong Linxuan. These initiatives, from offline takeovers to online interactive programs, work to educate local consumers about Louis Vuitton’s comprehensive brand heritage and solidify the house’s relevance to local communities.
And that’s not all: Louis Vuitton clearly has China top of mind. On May 21, the brand mounted graphic globe sculptures in three domestic cities – Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Hangzhou – alongside the opening of its 11-day exhibition in New York (in Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse) which showcases its partnership with Nike “Air Force 1” by Virgil Abloh. In an effort to narrow the gap between NY and Chinese hypebeasts back home, a dedicated WeChat Mini Program went live to share these editions to domestic audiences who couldn’t travel. When they take a close look at the physical installations, they can scan the QR code to access the Mini Program to learn more detailed storytelling about the legendary collaboration.
Louis Vuitton mounted a 3D outdoor advertisement featuring a graphic globe sculpture in Chengdu, and opened an LV x Nike “Air Force 1” exhibition in New York (swipe left). Photo: Louis Vuitton
From the east to the south, and all of the southwest, Louis Vuitton is allocating more effort to emerging markets — and exploring the dynamic cultures inherent to these cities. This exhibition and its build-up reflect not only the luxury powerhouse’s agility to combat retail challenges, but consolidate its commitment to the Chinese market in the long term. For that it must be applauded.