Adidas’ Roblox residency & Balmain turns to generative AI
This past year has seen luxury publicly embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and its capabilities — a stark contrast to the industry’s approach to NFTs and metaverse destinations. With attention on generative technology at an all-time high, fashion houses are scrambling to join in the conversation and ride the zeitgeist.
Balmain, for example, is putting personalization at the heart of its latest project by employing AI. Using its Unicorn sneaker as a blank canvas for innovation, the brand is expanding its Web3 strategy beyond digital wearables and NFTs to become a full-fledged creator studio.
In other news this week, Adidas’ Three-Stripes brand has launched a number of virtual retail hubs in Roblox, with the gaming platform becoming the most influential fashion hotspot of the year, while Zara has partnered with digital collectible community Okay Bears on a new kidswear collection.
Adidas’ Three-Stripes brand drops new destination in Roblox
What happened: On December 7, sportswear conglomerate and Web3 virtuoso Adidas announced the next stage in its virtual takeover: a series of pop-up hubs in Roblox.
The experience carries officially licensed digital clothing and bespoke outfits for the user-generated content (UGC) platform, which can be purchased via Roblox Marketplace. Each pop-up shop will appear in a different experience, with more stores set to arrive in the coming weeks.
Why it matters: Designed to echo Adidas’ offline merchandise and collections, gamers will now be able to replicate their own IRL outfits on their digital avatars. The label has also tapped the expertise of prolific Roblox creator Rush Bogin to help bring its vision to life — a move that aligns with Adidas’ support of emerging digital talent.
The duo has released an exclusive, limited-edition avatar collection featuring cross-body bags, crowns, and beanies. According to Global Industry research, the UGC platforms market was valued at $4.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $18.6 billion by 2028.
Balmain partners with Space Runners and AI artist on new generative sneaker project
What happened: Balmain and Space Runners have joined forces once again to fuse high fashion and advanced technology, particularly artificial intelligence.
The duo teamed up with custom sneaker artist Ant Kai to put a new spin on its classic Unicorn shoe design. Owners could mint the shoe’s digital collectible on the Polygon chain starting December 7 and purchase the one-of-a-kind sneaker exclusively at Balmain’s new Atlanta flagship or on the official website.
Why it matters: Rather than appoint a new collaborator for its latest activation, Balmain is deepening its relationship with Space Runners to strengthen the pair’s digital portfolio. The partnership with Ant Kai also highlights Balmain’s commitment to embracing diverse talents and fresh perspectives to elevate the label.
Recognizing the significant downturn in NFT and metaverse hype, introducing generative tech into the mix brings Balmain back to the forefront of mainstream consciousness.
Zara launches new kidswear collection alongside PFP project Okay Bears
What happened: Not one to shy away from an unexpected collaboration, high street label Zara unveiled its latest tie-up on November 30 in partnership with digital collectibles community Okay Bears. Aimed towards the younger generation, the kidswear collection is available across 1,149 Zara stores worldwide, featuring Okay Bears’ trademark iconography on the garments.
Why it matters: The project marks a momentous leap for Okay Bears, with Zara plucking the native PFP (picture-for-profile) project out of the digital world and into the mainstream — a move that brings new life, new audiences, and new opportunities to the IP.
Dior, Palace and Aimé Leon Dore feature in collabs on our radar
Featured in the Collabs & Drops newsletter, here are the best brand collaborations in China and the rest of the world to have on your radar for the week ahead.
December 2: Balenciaga x Jacob & Co.
Available for preorder only, Balenciaga’s haute joaillerie line “Diament” with Jacob & Co. was unveiled at its LA Fall 2024 show and then immediately made available at its Rodeo Drive women’s flagship.
December 6: Balmain x Ant Kai
A limited-edition collaboration incorporating generative AI, Balmain’s Unicorn sneakers have been personalized by American artist Ant Kai, who is known for customizing major sneaker silhouettes. Minted on Polygon, there will be digital collectibles available to purchase, with Space Runners’ generative AI tool enhancing the customization experience.
December 7: Pornhub x Hajime Sorayama
Alongside a Stella McCartney line this month, Hajime Sorayama is starring in a Pornhub merchandise line. It appears as though the artist’s signature “Sexy Robot” series might just become another popular IP that features in multiple collaborations.
December 8: Palace x CP Company
A year after their major debut collection, C.P. Company and Palace are reuniting on another sportswear collection, which includes cult pieces like the Goggle Jacket and the Explorer Jacket styles.
December 8: Aimé Leon Dore x Drake’s
Another reunion: London-based menswear brand Drake’s is crossing the pond for Aimé Leon Dore again to release a tailored collection for Fall 2023, made up of pinstriped wool and paisley-printed scarves.
December 9: Arch by Roaringwild x Sonic Prime
The Sonic Prime IP has been snapped up by Chinese streetwear brand Roaringwild and its diffusion line Arch by Roaringwild, aimed at its younger consumer base. Baseball jackets, tees, and sweatshirts are seen sporting Sonic the Hedgehog.
January 4: Dior x Otani
Kim Jones has joined forces with Japanese contemporary artist Otani on a capsule collection made up of sweatshirts, bomber jackets, sweatshirts, baseball caps, and bags, featuring a little green monster called “Tanilla.”
Erewhon x Balenciaga trolls the fashion industry, plus more global collabs
Running until tomorrow, Design Miami 2023 is an art and design fair that luxury fashion brands can only be part of with the assistance of external partners. And that’s the route Italian luxury house Fendi has taken – it worked with Bless Studio on an impressive installation and design project for the event.
This week’s global brand collaboration column spotlights Design Miami’s tie-up, Stella McCartney’s venture into Hajime Sorayama’s sensual robotic realm, and the most-talked-about brand of the week (other than Chanel taking to the streets of Manchester), Balenciaga’s comic pairing with Erewhon Market.
Stella McCartney x Hajime Sorayama
Details: Unisex clothing collection, December 6 and January 2024 via Stella McCartney
Social context: On Stella McCartney’s Instagram account, the posts about the collaboration have amassed 13,894-plus likes in total, while on Hajime Sorayama’s account, two posts relating to the project have over 19,900 likes.
- Though one of the artworld’s lesser-used IPs, Hajime Sorayama has a series of fashion-world collaborations under his belt, including with Dior and Mizuno. This is the first time he has teamed up with a British designer.
- Seeing as Stella McCartney isn’t known for sexually-charged collections, Sorayama’s world of “sexy robots” make the two an unlikely pairing. However, the creativity and fanbase that come from incorporating Sorayama’s IP make it work for McCartney’s eponymous label.
- As the designer is a collector of Sorayama’s work, the collaboration is partly personal, especially as Stella McCartney considers the artist a friend. Whether or not it is a well-timed pairing – it comes at the same time as a Pornhub x Sorayama collaboration was announced – will be revealed in due course.
Erewhon x Balenciaga
Details: Organic juice and merchandise capsule, December 4
Social context: On TikTok, #balenciagala has 33,100 views, videos with the phrase “Balenciaga Erewhon Collection” have accumulated 1.4 million views, and “Balenciaga Kim Erewhon” has 647,700 views. Erewhon hasn’t posted to social media about the collaboration.
- Showcased with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop, the LA-based Fall 2024 Balenciaga show starring Cardi B on December 2 was an ode to American popular culture and celebrity — this Erewhon line released soon after the show is driving conversation around the collection.
- One of the most expensive grocery stores collaborating with a brand that is forever going viral for crazy pricing feels like a tongue-in-cheek poke at rich people’s culture, crafting that introspective irony that Balenciaga is well known for.
- The prices of the hoodie, T-shirt, apron, baseball cap, and tote bag range from $425 to $1,150, and the collection includes a juice that was served to guests at the show in LA, made up of “apple, lemon, ginger, cinnamon, maple (all organic), and charcoal — which gives it its color and adds to its detoxifying benefits,” said the brand.
Bless x Fendi
Details: Installation and multiple products for Design Miami 2023
Social context: The three related posts on Instagram have 7,548 likes altogether so far.
- A transdisciplinary studio founded by Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag, Bless collaborated with Fendi for Design Miami 2023, with both benefiting from the creative opportunity.
- Creating a range of products, from clothes to furniture and everyday objects, Bless releases collections twice a year as a wildly artistic lifestyle brand that’s already recognized by the fashion industry. For example, Margiela’s Fall/Winter 1997-98 collection starred Bless’ N°00 Furwigs.
- Fendi signatures such as the Peekaboo bag and suitcase were made over by the design studio, promoting the treasured house pieces to the attendees of Design Miami in a great marketing move.
Webinar recap: The art of luxury brand licensing with Artestar
On December 8, Jing Daily partnered with Artestar for a webinar exploring the booming world of brand-artist collaboration.
Artestar is a global licensing agency and creative consultancy that has been instrumental in some of the fashion industry’s most significant brand-artist collaborations. The company represents artists such as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Indiana, Tom Wesselmann, Kenny Scharf, and many more.
During the webinar, founder of Artestar David Stark; senior director of commercial at Farfetch Americas, Andrew Wong; and Jing Daily brand and collabs editor Sadie Bargeron, thoroughly dissected the realm of artist intellectual properties, covering both business and creative strategy.
In case you missed the live session, here are the top takeaways from our webinar, “The Art of Luxury Brand Licensing: Learning from Basquiat and Haring’s Success.”
Storytelling lies at the core of collaboration success
One common thread that ran throughout the conversation was how significant storytelling is to the success of brand-artist collaborations. Stark, the founder of Artestar, emphasized that identifying authentic connections between an artist and a brand serves as a starting point, stressing the need for the company’s pitches to be meticulously thought out and carefully curated.
Wong, from Farfetch, agreed that there is a rising desire for storytelling in the realm of fashion and beyond, with the artist often becoming an effective launch pad to tell engaging stories and tap into certain communities.
Don’t get lost in fan culture
When asked about the role of artist fanbases in the curation of brand-artist collaborations, Stark interestingly mentioned that they are not part of the production or research process.
Despite many brands often working with artists on collections or products in order to reach the consumers who love them, Wong added that, in terms of shaping the actual concept, fans do not necessarily need to be considered.
Artestar ensures that each project comes from an authentic place by focusing on the artist rather than the surrounding fan culture. When a brand collaboration extends into the universe of a talent, it naturally resonates with fans, so companies should refrain from people-pleasing.
Agencies can assist the logistics side of brand-artist collaboration
Though artists are able to independently orchestrate their own collaborations with brands on a small scale, agencies such as Artestar can facilitate a smoother process for both parties.
As evidenced by the growing roster of artists that Artestar represents, it is a popular decision for talent to work with a licensing company in order to achieve impactful collaborations that protect and enhance their reputation.
In Artestar’s case, artists are left with creative freedom to reach heights of innovation as the logistics are cared for by a company with a comprehensive understanding of licensing agreements and how artists can maximize their benefits from working with brands.
Viral memes and $1M handbags: Is luxury fashion now a spectator sport?
One million dollar handbags, $500 hot water bottles, and towels for skirts — was 2023 the year luxury fashion officially became a spectator sport for the masses?
“Fashion has always been at the forefront of culture and a spectator sport for the masses in one way or another. These viral ‘spectator’ designs will only become more relevant to capturing attention and driving cultural conversations in the future, as hype-fueled digital moments increasingly bleed into online conversations in the spaces we spend time,” Alison Ho, strategist at trend forecasting firm WGSN Insight, tells Jing Daily.
Today, the luxury fashion market is cluttered with novelty pieces that command public attention. Only last month did Louis Vuitton, helmed by menswear creative director Pharrell Williams, cause a global stir with its latest iteration of its Speedy bag, priced at $1 million.
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“Today, you don’t even need an item that is just beautiful. You need an item that gets people talking,” fashion commentator Hanan Besovic, and the name behind prolific Instagram account @ideservecouture, tells Jing Daily. “If you have an item that is going to spark polarizing opinions, for brands, that’s a match made in heaven.”
The canary-yellow “Millionaire Speedy” will be reserved for the crème de la crème of Louis Vuitton’s clientele once it’s released in January 2024. But the general public hasn’t shied away from weighing in with opinions.
“Today’s lesson: how to not spend one million dollars,” one Instagram user wrote under @ideservecouture’s related post.
Louis Vuitton’s divisive bag joins a roster of high-end gimmicks that have piqued media interest this year. The antithesis to the prevailing quiet luxury trend, many of these products typify a new wave of cultural artefacts dividing audiences – and driving brand exposure.
Besovic outlines how behind each controversial product is a carefully calculated publicity strategy designed to elicit a response. “All of these items are meant as a marketing strategy,” he says.
Balenciaga, under the direction of Demna Gvasalia, is widely recognized as the blueprint.
“We see the product on the runway, then when it launches on their website, all of a sudden there’s numerous news articles asking ‘would you pay $925 for a towel?’” says Besovic. “It’s a brilliant way of marketing for them, because they don’t have to do anything. The public who’s expressing their discomfort, or dislike on social media is doing it for them.”
@guyfieri.superfan #greenscreen does it “count” more as art if we dont see it go viral? #bellahadid #coperni #copernidress #runway #jacquemus #courreges #parisfashionweek #EndlessJourney #fyp ♬ original sound – Alexandra Hildreth
The trend has accelerated both on and off the runway. For brands who may have fallen off the public’s radar, it’s a means of regaining cultural relevance.
And it works. After Mschf’s big red boots went viral earlier this year, Google searches for “Mschf” reportedly rose by over 100 percent across the month of February, with resale prices peaking at almost $1,500 on StockX (the shoes were originally available for $350).
The pace of gimmicks skyrocketed following the success of Coperni’s explosive spray-on spectacle in 2022, a performance that put the French fashion house front-and-center of the cultural conversation.
“Today, you don’t even need an item that is just beautiful. You need an item that gets people talking. If you have an item that is going to spark polarizing opinions, for brands, that’s a match made in heaven.”
“It feels like everybody’s trying to outdo everybody,” Besovic says. But when the media continues to devour these provocations, why would brands stop creating them?
With luxury labels quantifying their success via metrics like ‘Earned Media Value’ (the dollar amount of all exposure generated from social media), how much buzz their collections can create online is just as critical as offline sales.
Subsequently, Ho believes that certain products are designed to ignite online response, rather than honor craftsmanship. “Viral products will continue to help brands build hype and drive impactful moments that accelerate cultural conversations and cut through during an attention recession, but are not likely to have lasting power,” she says.
Whether it be towel skirts or supersized stompers, when a new gimmick hits social media, comments are often swamped with the same question: “Who’s buying this?”
Burberry, for example, found itself in hot water across China after the launch of its check wool hot water bottle. The accessory, which made the rounds online last month, was slated by consumers as a “scam for rich people,” thanks to its almost $500 price tag. Overnight, the hashtag “Burberry won’t get a penny from me” peaked on Weibo’s Hot Search list, accumulating over 42.44 million views and 20,000 engagements.
Yet, despite receiving widespread criticism, Burberry’s winter warmer remains in high demand. On November 24, a new Burberry-related hashtag surfaced: “#Burberry shop says the 3,300 RMB hot water bottle is very popular.”
In Louis Vuitton’s case, the million dollar Speedy has already been spotted hanging off the arms of members of the upper echelons, including NBA star PJ Tucker.
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Naysayers remain unconvinced, claiming that these gags are nothing more than a way for brands to “troll rich people.” Meanwhile, proponents argue that fashion’s newfound meme-factor is needed to lighten up the industry.
“Meme-like products that tap into absurdity and surrealism will continue to stay relevant in 2024, especially as youth and pop culture become synonymous with digital culture and memes continue to emerge as social currency,” WGSN’s Ho says.
As luxury brands become more digital-savvy, having their collections recontextualised into memes is the holy grail. “Balenciaga’s long-term commitment to absurdist products has earned the brand meme-like status,” Ho adds. How “memeable” a product is, is now a common indicator of success.
Besovic, the Instagram-based fashion critic, notes that controversial products aren’t made with everyone in mind, and often exclude 99 percent of the population. But if these products aren’t designed to target mass audiences, why does everyone feel compelled to share their two cents?
“I think it’s just the way that the internet is at this point,” Besovic says. “We’re going to talk about everything, it’s just our culture.”
Life in China is back to normal, so why are foreign tourists skipping the country?
Eight months after China’s borders’ reopened, the number of foreign tourists visiting China has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, though life in the country has largely returned to normal.
The absence of overseas tourists is particularly noticeable in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai. In the first half of this year, the two cities received less than a quarter of the pre-pandemic level. Why are international travelers skipping China?
Tourist numbers drop
According to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, from January to June this year, Beijing welcomed 407,900 inbound international tourists, double the number of visitors for the whole of 2022, but down 11 percent compared to 2019.
Tourists from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan accounted for 21.4 percent of inbound visitors in 1H 2023. In the same period, the number of inbound tourists in Shanghai was 1.2 million, down 13.8 percent from 2019.
Matthias Terrettaz, general manager of the Bulgari Hotel in Shanghai, tells Jing Daily that foreign travelers account for less than 10 percent of the hotel’s total guests.
“[They] mostly visit China for business trips, such as CEOs from international companies, or visiting luxury brand management teams,” he says.
A report from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed that in 1Q 20223, national travel agencies facilitated 52,000 inbound tourists, compared with 3.7 million in the same period in 2019.
Payment, hotels and shopping challenges
One stumbling block comes in the form of barriers for foreigners who wish to visit or live in the country.
“Without a Chinese SIM card and the WeChat or Alipay apps, China can be a nightmare for tourists,” Nick Chen, a 28-year-old white-collar living in Hangzhou, tells Jing Daily
Laura Pan, professor at Italy’s Bocconi SDA University, flew back to China in late October. Although she is Chinese and in close contact with her friends and relatives in China, she encountered several payment challenges on her trip.
“Earlier this year, WeChat Pay and Alipay made it a lot easier for foreigners by accepting foreign credit cards to be linked to the payment system. However, upon arriving in China, WeChat Pay did not work. It continued to ask for ID verification, which proved to be difficult because it wasn’t able to send an OTP to foreign mobile phone numbers. Alipay was significantly better – the user experience was simpler and relied on the user’s bank to send the OTP,” says Pan.
Chinese hotels need to meet certain qualifications to receive foreign guests. To ensure the safety of overseas tourists and national security, China has formulated regulations on the accommodation requirements for foreign tourists visiting China. According to Ctrip platform data, 72 percent of domestic hotels cannot accommodate foreigners.
Notably, shopping and getting around in China can be challenging for foreign visitors. Most shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, accommodations, transportation, and other merchants use mobile payments to collect payments and lack cash reserves. Some stores simply don’t accept cash.
When it comes to sightseeing, many popular attractions, from museums to parks, require reservations in advance on the WeChat mini program. However, many overseas tourists do not use WeChat, and even after downloading WeChat, language barriers, identity verification, and one-time password requirements make the process less straightforward and in some cases even prohibitive for foreigners.
“If you are using the mini program directly from WeChat, everything (prompts and instructions) is listed in Mandarin. This can be overwhelming for a foreigner who isn’t familiar with the language,” says Pan.
“For any country, inbound tourism is the foundation of tourism development,” says Song Rui, director of the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in an interview with domestic media outlet Huxiu.
China is working hard to revive inbound tourism. In August this year, Beijing and Washington agreed to double the number of direct passenger flights between the two countries to 24 per week starting late October.
Meanwhile, visa applications for some countries have also been simplified. Wu Wendi, founder of travel agency Wendy Wu Tours, says: “In Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Europe, fingerprints are no longer required since August 11. So this is good news.”
In late November, China’s foreign ministry announced that the nation would expand its visa-free entry policy to travelers from France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, and the Netherlands. These countries will be able to visit China for two weeks without a visa.
On July 20 this year, WeChat Pay announced it has enabled most merchants in China to support overseas payment cards. Alipay also stated on July 21 that after linking overseas cards to Alipay, they can be used nationwide. Both platforms support overseas bank card organizations, such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover Global Network, and JCB.
As the country rapidly moves toward a cashless society, the Chinese government is working to make it easier for foreigners to use mobile payment systems. Removing hindrances for tourists will likely go a long way to attracting more visitors.
The North Face’s Shanghai takeover with snow, skateboarding, street culture
Overview: The North Face‘s down jackets took over Shanghai Zhangyuan – a hip luxury retail complex renovated in the shikumen historical building style – over the past weekend. An inflatable colossal Himalayan explorer, donning a large The North Face coat, sat guard on the artificial-snow-covered street. The brand also set up a gigantic ski slope ahead of the installation.
Outside of The North Face’s experiential space, named Summit Club House, the outdoor wear manufacturer hosted a pop-up street skateboarding challenge, dubbed Urban Ride, which brought professional street skaters from across the country together. The initiative combined snowy mountains with the bustling city, combining ice and snow tracks with Shanghai’s local alley culture.
Netizens’ reactions: The giant pop-up installation has gone viral on social media, attracting netizens to visit it physically and post their snapshots. The North Face brand hashtag has accumulated over 51 million views on Xiaohongshu. This is not the first time that the brand has brought skateboarding slopes and artificial snow to shopping destinations. Since 2021, it has launched similar initiatives in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Shenyang, which boosted offline and online traffic significantly.
Verdict: Leveraging gigantic installations to grab the public’s attention is a common viral marketing tactic. In September this year, The North Face’s first Summit Club House opened in Shanghai Zhangyuan, for which the brand mounted two large explorers wearing the brand’s iconic product, one sitting atop the Summit Club House building and the other one lying streetside on Maoming North Road in Zhangyuan. The installations generated considerable attention.
Following the debut of the massive explorer, The North Face kicked off a touring campaign to take the installation to Xiamen and Shenzhen, which served as a warm-up marketing campaign for the winter sales season.
A dominant force in the sportswear industry, The North Face established its brand prominence by delivering top-notch activewear and outdoor sports equipment. Going beyond its core identity, this heritage performance-wear brand has adeptly stayed in tune with the preferences of today’s younger generations.
It achieves this by engaging in dynamic collaborations with prestigious names like Gucci, MM6 Maison Margiela, CDG, Supreme, and Kaws. Through these partnerships, The North Face consistently infuses artistic and playful elements into a diverse range of classic items. The brand is strategically riding on the burgeoning winter sports trend in China, which will further enhance its cultural resonance and market presence.
2024 market outlook: Where is China’s luxury industry headed?
2023 has been a challenging year for luxury, to say the least. Soaring interest rates and inflation have cast a shadow over luxury spending in Western markets. Concurrently, China, the world’s second-largest luxury market, has been grappling with a series of economic challenges throughout the year, ranging from deflationary pressures and an unstable real estate market to other systemic issues that have impeded the country’s eagerly awaited post-COVID economic rebound.
Adding to the complexity, the persistent conflict in the Middle East continues to contribute to the erosion of consumer confidence. These factors have created an overall less favorable backdrop for consumption, particularly luxury consumption.
The impact of these challenges is evident in the Q3 performances of major luxury conglomerates. LVMH reported quarterly revenue growth of 9 percent year-on-year in the three months ended September 30, a considerable slowdown from the robust 17 percent growth observed in Q2 and falling below analysts’ estimates of 11 percent year-on-year growth.
Similarly, Kering faced a decline in sales, dropping by 9 percent on a comparable basis in Q3, which was below analyst expectations of a 6 percent decline. This downturn affected Kering’s star brands across the board: Saint Laurent experienced a 12 percent decline in sales year-over-year, while Gucci and Bottega Veneta both reported a 7 percent decrease in revenue.
Positive signs of a global recovery
However, the global economic landscape appears to be poised for change as 2024 approaches. In October, US inflation data unexpectedly came in lower than anticipated, leading to speculation that the Federal Reserve might be less inclined to raise interest rates in the upcoming months. This development holds the promise of boosting consumer confidence and fostering increased consumption.
Simultaneously, data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicates positive momentum in China’s economic indicators. In October, China’s industrial output exhibited a year-on-year growth of 4.6 percent, surpassing the 4.5 percent pace observed in September and marking the most robust growth since April of the same year. Retail sales in China also experienced a notable uptick, registering a 7.6 percent increase in October compared to its 5.5 percent gain in September.
“China’s economic growth was stronger than expected in Q3, with consumption contributing to over 80 percent of GDP growth. We are seeing an over-index gain in the premiumization and price value segments, and growing categories include pets, outdoor-related goods, experiences, health, and beauty,” says Harry Hui, Founder and Managing Partner of private equity firm ClearVue Partners.
China is currently contemplating a substantial $137 billion injection to revitalize its struggling property market as well. The significance of this move is underscored by the fact that approximately 70 percent of Chinese household wealth is currently tied to the property market.
“There is a “near-term property wealth effect” erosion on aggregate demand, but we expect the market to rebound. Another 100 million middle-class households will enter the market in the next cycle,” adds Hui.
Over the past two decades, upswings in China’s property market have been closely linked to heightened consumer confidence and increased spending. This trend is pronounced among the burgeoning middle class in China, a demographic that has played a pivotal role in propelling luxury consumption.
The unfolding developments indicate that economic recovery is well underway. However, it’s important to acknowledge that challenges may persist and that headwinds are to be expected. Anticipating a slow start, consumer spending is likely to pick up momentum in Q2, setting the stage for a healthy and balanced recovery throughout 2024.
Savvy consumers are in search of value
Despite the challenging economic climate, however, hard luxury demand has demonstrated resilience — as displayed by Richemont’s Q3 performance. The company reported a notable sales increase of 6 percent at actual exchange rates (and 12 percent at constant exchange rates).
The Asia Pacific region emerged as a key driver for Richemont, with sales experiencing a substantial 14 percent increase at actual exchange rates (and 23 percent at constant exchange rates). Its jewelry maisons performed particularly well, with sales rising by 10 percent at actual exchange rates (and 16 percent at constant exchange rates).
In times of uncertainty, consumers traditionally adopt a more value-oriented approach to their purchases. This trend is evident in the current market dynamics, where there is a notable inclination towards choosing brands and luxury categories known for their ability to retain value.
The preference typically extends to hard luxury categories such as watches and jewelry — aligning with the predominant segments within the Richemont portfolio — and occasionally includes fashion outliers (such as Hermès, which reported a 16 percent increase in sales during Q3).
Amid spending reallocation, brand desirability is key
Despite earlier concerns about luxury spending reallocation across markets with the return of international travel for the Chinese, this has surprisingly not been the case.
“The bulk of Chinese consumers’ expenditure on luxury used to occur overseas, but that changed during the pandemic, and such spending continued to largely take place domestically in 2023,” says Scott Chen, Managing Partner at L Catterton Asia.
“While outbound travel is expected to recover further next year, we believe 60–70 percent of such expenditure will remain in China as luxury brands have enhanced their product array, service quality, and overall customer experience in the country,” he adds.
At the same time, confronted with a disposable income crunch, the middle class has adapted their spending behaviors. Rather than engaging in across-the-board “revenge spending,” consumers appear to be strategically reallocating their income to prioritize specific categories.
In a recent study conducted by RTG Consulting Group, only 6.4 percent percent of Chinese consumers surveyed expressed an intention to increase spending on luxury fashion & leather goods. In contrast, a significant 55.1 percent of respondents planned to allocate more funds towards travel and leisure.
Only 6.4 percent percent of Chinese consumers surveyed expressed an intention to increase spending on luxury fashion & leather goods. In contrast, a significant 55.1 percent of respondents planned to allocate more funds towards travel and leisure.
For those unwilling to compromise on luxury consumption, a notable trend known as “exquisite poverty” has emerged on Chinese social media. This refers to the practice of cutting back on non-essential expenditures in other aspects so as to afford and prioritize luxury items or experiences. While the financial prudence of this spending pattern might be questionable, it also goes to show the importance of brand desirability and how it can continue to drive demand even in challenging times.
Optimization for the road ahead
Businesses tend to adopt a more defensive posture in times of economic instability, choosing caution and opting to reduce external costs where possible. However, as shown during the Covid years, it is during these slower periods of time that brands are forced to reassess their current setups and develop more streamlined strategies to better connect with consumers.
Companies that dedicated time to reviewing and optimizing their ways of working during these lull years are now reaping the rewards. Taking the initiative to reassess strategies during economic downturns can yield long-term advantages, fostering adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainties while positioning the company for sustained success in China’s ever-evolving market.
Angelito Perez Tan, Jr. is the co-founder and CEO of RTG Group Asia, parent company of business consultancy RTG Consulting Group and investment firm RTG Capital.
From hype to flop: How brands go wrong in the metaverse
Storytelling is the foundation of every brand. It has the power to differentiate a brand from others, and attract and engage the right audience.
Yet, all too often, storytelling takes the backseat to a brand’s internal objectives. This leads to misfires and missed opportunities, as brand activations fall flat and fail to engage the desired consumers.
Enter the metaverse. While it’s somewhat of a sticky (or hazy) word these days, I remain bullish on its transformative potential. The metaverse is one of the most exhilarating storytelling tools that brands have. From being interactive and explorable, to creative and fun, these are entire worlds that immerse audiences in a brand’s story.
And it works. According to Roblox’s Q3 2023 insights, users are spending dozens of minutes per session of engaged attention, cumulatively spending nearly 16 million hours last quarter in Roblox alone.
Even though we’re still very much in the development (or ‘beta’) days of a fully interoperable metaverse, there are a few best practices that have already emerged as cornerstones of a successful brand activation and storytelling in the metaverse – and plenty of duds that have passed unheard.
These are the most common mistakes brands make with their metaverse activations:
Ignoring internet culture
The future of brands is headless. Brands may introduce IP but, ultimately, it is the community that drives the narrative forward. Cohorts will become creators, propelling the brand lore, culture, and story forward through messaging, advocacy, and signaling. It’s this approach that capitalizes on the participatory nature of the metaverse, allowing users to feel like co-creators delivering ‘main character’ energy, rather than passive consumers.
The younger generations, like Gen Alpha, were born as metaverse natives. Brands that ignore the power of granting ‘creator’ status to a consumer will lose relevance among the emerging generations and slowly fade into obscurity.
I love E.l.f.’s recent metaverse activation, which directly addresses the fact that many Gen Zers want to be creators rather than corporate employees. This highlights the brand’s relevance and closeness to the communities it serves by creating cohesive brand experiences that emphasize a consumer-first approach as to how their audience interacts and delivers value to bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds.
Lazy copying of IRL
Too many times we hop into a new virtual experience only to find a carbon copy of the brand’s IRL footprint. It’s too lazy to replicate what works in the real world. Who really wants to visit a grocery store in the metaverse unless it’s a unique store experience, layout, design and UX that you can’t replicate IRL?
Brands need to build something that’s both familiar to their audience but also engaging, exciting, and inspiring. It’s then that companies will start to see strong traction and engagement from core (and new) demographics. Brands should challenge everything and create new possibilities.
— INVNT.ATOM (@invntatom) June 29, 2023
We all know these weak stories, the ones that don’t capture your attention from the get-go, or leave you wanting more. They don’t pass the “why should I care?” test. Effective activations in the metaverse often involve immersive narratives that captivate users. Brands can create compelling stories that align with their messaging, drawing users into an enchanting world that keeps them engaged and invested in the brand experience. These stories should also align with concrete connections to a brand’s raison d’etre.
A great example is Invnt.Atom’s “ae girls” campaign with Aespa to celebrate the album release Girls and debut in America. As K-pop’s first metaverse-based group, Aespa led its loyal fanbase into the new era of the web with an exclusive digital collection created in collaboration with world-renowned non-fungible token (NFT) artist Blake Kathryn.
The campaign included a GLB file, a standardized format that is used to share 3D data, for certain holders, which gave owners the ability to enter the metaverse as their idols and connected superfans directly to their favorite artists, putting fans quite literally at the center of the story in the metaverse.
Reverse FOMO: No sense of urgency
Without a reason to act, consumers aren’t hooked into action. You must inspire an urgency to participate, driving FOMO. Oftentimes, this is through an exclusive drop that gives fans a piece of the action, as well as a feeling of ownership. Most often it’s a digital asset that creates a tangible connection to the experience, deepening brand affinity. Alternatively, your metaverse should cultivate a community that users want to be a part of, incentivizing urgency to join their community members in the virtual realm.
Metaverse activations without those organic story hooks are doomed to fail. For instance, events like Metaverse Fashion Week need to consider how to create the urgency that makes these virtual moments irresistible – otherwise, it’s just copying a model that works IRL, but doesn’t quite yet translate to virtual worlds. A good example is how The Fabricant is utilizing digital fashion filters to create digital layers of identity to drive emotion and build an industry that authentically belongs to creators.
Never underestimate the power of storytelling across your immersive strategy for virtual worlds. All too often, we see brands rush into the build phase without carefully crafting a narrative that aligns with the broader brand story – and build natural story hooks from there onward.
As we approach the era of the spatial web, the next generation of consumer experiences will demand better storytelling, unmissable moments, and rewards. Brands that fall behind will soon become forgotten relics of a distant past.
Scott Cullather is the President and CEO of [Invnt Group], and CEO of Invnt.Atom, the group’s digital and Web3 innovation division based in Singapore. Cullather has led diverse teams driving innovative strategy, design, production, and the execution of thousands of large-scale live, virtual, and hybrid B2B and B2C brand experiences and campaigns, in over 40 countries. All opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.
Battle of China’s e-commerce titans: Temu parent emerges ahead of Alibaba
Pinduoduo has usurped Alibaba for the title of China’s most valuable e-commerce company.
On November 29, parent company PDD Holdings’ market capitalization hit $195.9 billion, surpassing Alibaba Group’s $190.5 billion. Although the figures have dipped since then, PDD Holdings remains in the lead.
The news comes after PDD Holdings reported blockbuster third-quarter earnings on November 27, with revenue surging 94 percent YoY to $9.7 billion (68.8 billion RMB) and operating profit increasing 60 percent YoY to $2.3 billion (16.7 billion RMB).
In comparison, revenue at rival Alibaba Group grew far slower at 9 percent YoY to $30.81 billion (224.79 billion RMB) during the same period. Upon the news that the company would not spin off its cloud business, Alibaba’s US-listed shares fell about 8 percent on November 16, with Morgan Stanley downgrading the stock from buy to hold.
Pinduoduo: Dominating China’s value-driven sector
PDD Holdings attributed its strong performance to China’s robust demand for consumption upgrades. “It’s the balance of quality and price that consumers care most about. Recognizing this trend, we are more confident about our value proposition of more savings and better services,” said co-CEO Chen Lei in a call with investors.
In the three months ended September 30, the Chinese retail and agriculture conglomerate launched special promotions on its flagship platform, Pinduoduo, that are “typically only available a few times a year during major shopping festivals,” according to the company. These campaigns included the National Brand Festival, held in collaboration with over 100 domestic brands, and the Duoduo Harvest Festival, connecting shoppers to 3,000 agricultural merchants.
During this year’s Singles’ Day, Pinduoduo’s 10 billion RMB ($1.4 billion) subsidy program attracted over 620 million customers, providing discounts on high-ticket items. The platform’s aggressive pricing strategy, combined with its group-buying feature, is gaining popularity as local consumers tighten their belts.
“Pinduoduo originally engineered a consumer-to-manufacturer (C2M) model that connected suppliers to consumers, with the intent of catering to a lower-spending demographic,” Jacob Cooke, CEO of WPIC Marketing + Technologies, tells Jing Daily.
“Due to economic pressures of the past two years, Pinduoduo has expanded beyond its original target demographic, with many higher-spending consumers coming on the platform to seek savings on everyday essentials. Pinduoduo’s rise is linked to the fact that certain segments of the consumer base are price conscious.”
Temu: Aggressive marketing on a global scale
Like Pinduoduo, Temu has rapidly acquired customers by offering deals that just seem too good to be true (and some of them are just that, with negative reviews and warnings about faulty products aplenty). This is done by exporting Pinduoduo’s C2M model, connecting the same Chinese suppliers to shoppers in over 40 markets around the world.
To set itself apart from competitors, the Boston-based marketplace has created a “borderless discovery and loyalty engine fine-tuned to American shoppers,” magnifying its presence through an army of influencers and user-generated content, says Joanna Williams, co-founder and CEO of Moore Collective, a digital consultancy and fashion startup.
“A core Temu strength lies in the 2x more American creators actively co-creating TikTok content than rival Shein. Beyond superior grassroots traction, Temu promoted over 45 UGC testimonials through paid ads in 30 days, exhibiting their commitment to amplifying authentic community content,” says Williams.
“By pursuing genuine connections with a range of creators, not just transactional celebrity sponsorships, Temu earns peer-to-peer buzz and trust, propelling brand familiarity. This grassroots community building drives awareness and trust in nuanced ways programmatic advertising cannot,” she adds.
@skye_diorr Everything was affordable✨ #whatiorderedvswhatigot #temu #temuhaul #unboxing #temublackgirl ♬ Trap Mafia – Lastra
According to Bloomberg Second Measure, which analyzes billions of credit and debit card transactions, Temu’s revenue in September 2023 was more than double that of Shein. With 250 million downloads as of November 2023, Temu is expected to generate more than $16 billion in revenue this year.
Alibaba vs. PDD: Where should brands set up shop?
Though not without flaws, Temu and Pinduoduo’s success stems from their ability to capitalize on two trends reshaping the global e-commerce landscape: social commerce and heavy discounting.
With two swelling businesses under its umbrella, PDD Holdings is shaping up to be an attractive buy for investors.
That said, “it’s important to acknowledge that Alibaba continues to maintain a substantial lead in both e-commerce sales and corporate revenues compared to PDD Holdings. The surge in PDD’s market capitalization is due to its impressive growth rate,” Cooke says.
“Alibaba continues to maintain a substantial lead in both e-commerce sales and corporate revenues compared to PDD Holdings. The surge in PDD’s market capitalization is due to its impressive growth rate.”
When it comes to brands, he says that Alibaba’s Tmall should remain the cornerstone of a brand’s e-commerce strategy in China.
“Pinduoduo presents challenges for vendors, including stringent return policies, less dynamic ad tools, and a consumer perception that the platform is for cheap goods. There is also a prevalence of fake goods on Pinduoduo,” Cooke explains. “For premium brands, establishing a presence on Pinduoduo could potentially dilute brand equity.”
On the other hand, Alibaba has invested for over a decade in building consumers’ trust, including a system that guarantees authenticity on Tmall, he adds.
Not only should brands be careful about discounting, which can have repercussions on long-term brand value, they should also be discerning about which platforms they partner with. While one marketplace might be gaining steam at the moment, it could have an impact on brand image that outlasts its hype.
‘Virtual bling’: Photoshopped Chanel, Hermès Birkin bags are China’s latest social media trend
What happened: China’s latest fashion wave doesn’t require shoppers to empty their pockets. In fact, all they need is an image editing app, and some savvy Photoshopping skills.
The trend in question is “virtual bling” (known in local dialect as dianzi dapai), a new online phenomenon that’s encouraging netizens to edit luxury items, such as expensive Dior handbags and fine jewelry from Cartier, into their photos over buying the real thing.
According to the New Retail Business Review, the concept has taken mainland’s online realm by storm, particularly among young people who earn around $685.84 (5,000 RMB) per month.
So far, related hashtags, including “young people fall in love with ‘digital high-end brands’” and “would you Photoshop luxury brands on photos?” are snowballing, having already generated over 447,000 views and 516,000 views on Weibo.
The Jing Take: Novel, funny, and pointedly ironic, China’s latest digital trend may have got online natives talking, but the movement speaks volumes about the state of China’s approach to luxury consumption today.
The term’s origins are said to derive from a proliferation of anti-consumerist sentiment across China’s social hubs – such as Weibo and Xiaohongshu – in response to shoppers being mocked for wearing counterfeit bags in public.
Rejecting societal pressures, a subset of internet users are superimposing anything from Dior bags to private jets onto their images. The activity has already found its own slogan among China’s cybernauts – “use big electronic brands to enjoy a rich life.”
The term “electric brands” refers to the act of taking product images directly from a luxury label’s official site; a tactic that ultimately deems the item ‘not fake.’ As one participant explains, “how could they be fakes? They were all taken directly from the official website.”
China’s younger generation is no stranger to fighting back against economic woes. Joining the likes of “lying flat” and “exquisite poverty,” “virtual bling” is another example of habitants searching for new forms of emotional catharsis and saving money amid countrywide financial downturns.
Moreover, as the mainland – and notably the rest of the world – shifts towards a more digital-dominant landscape, the trend also reaffirms how demographics like Gen Z are placing greater value on their online personas over their IRL selves.
But legal implications are already mounting. Legal experts have reportedly warned of potential infringement issues due to many high-end brands such as Hermès having patents on their designs. It’s a concern that has heightened in line with luxury’s clampdown on counterfeits, notably within the metaverse.
Nevertheless, for brands looking to capture the mood across China, and the attention of its hyper online, digital-savvy consumers, trends like these are a significant indicator to keep track of.
Fendi’s recognition of the mainland’s widespread consumption downgrade is an example. Recognizing an opportunity to join in the cultural conversation, the maison teamed up with local brand Heytea to deliver an accessible luxury bag to Fendi fans for only 20 RMB (approx $2.83). For many, the collaboration was their first experience of owning a luxury asset.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.
Empowered, wealthy women the driving force behind luxury success in China
Marina Yang is the co-founder of a high-end wedding dress store in Hangzhou, China. With an annual income of 8 million RMB ($1.1 million), she allocates an average of 1 million RMB ($138,000) towards luxury purchases. Her primary focus is renowned and timeless brands, such as Hermes, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, as well as jewelry maisons like Boucheron and Buccellati.
“I buy luxury goods mainly because I personally like them and for special occasions,” says Yang. “As my income has grown, it has also influenced the price range of the luxury items I purchase. For example, I may choose handbags made from rare leathers, and my jewelry selections have shifted from regular pieces to high-end collections,” she says.
The luxury market is in the midst of a significant shift propelled by the rising economic influence of women. Recent findings from Havas Media Network reveal that as women reach new milestones in their personal and professional lives, their desire for luxury experiences intensifies.
As per the study, a considerable number of women earning an annual salary exceeding £250,000 ($306,000) and possessing investable assets over £1 million ($1.22 million) allocate over £50,000 ($61,248) annually on luxury items.
Significantly, 27 percent of women surpass the £50,000 threshold in yearly luxury spending, a figure substantially higher than the 17 percent reported for men.
Personal motivations, such as viewing luxury items as symbols of success and a form of reward, play a crucial role in driving women’s luxury purchases.
This trend is also discernible in China. Swiss bank UBS estimates that the phenomenon of “female empowerment” could potentially contribute $3.3 trillion to $5.3 trillion to consumer spending in China by 2030.
Jaehee Jung, a professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, believes Chinese women’s spending habits will significantly influence the luxury sector.
“Women are key purchasers of luxury goods, particularly in the fashion and accessories categories. Luxury brands target consumers who seek a luxurious lifestyle, regardless of the specific product category,” she says. “Given the rise in social status and purchasing power among women in China, they have become an important demographic for many luxury brands.”
“Chinese women hold half the sky,” says Jonathan Siboni, founder and CEO of Paris-based data intelligence firm Luxurynsight. “Their increasing empowerment can only have a strong impact on the luxury sector, just as Japan did a generation ago when Japanese women gradually increased their empowerment.”
Rise of China’s women
According to the 2023 Hurun Richest Self-Made Women in the World list, China has 62 percent of the world’s self-made women billionaires, totaling 68 individuals. In contrast, the US follows with 23 billionaires, and the UK ranks third with five.
This remarkable proportion of Chinese billionaires is deeply rooted in the country’s culture, where women have historically played a very strong role, Siboni says.
“China had a woman emperor,” he adds. “And many Chinese business owners have brought women to take leadership roles in the family business, such as Pansy Ho, daughter of casino business magnate Stanley Ho, or Liu Qing, the daughter of Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, who is currently the president of Didi Chuxing.”
“Chinese women have confidence and are more risk-taking than their Western counterparts,” Siboni says.
Industry experts also attribute the growing influence of Chinese women in luxury markets to factors such as rising incomes, changing social norms, the impact of social media influencers, increased global exposure through travel, and a strong emphasis on self-expression.
Olivia Plotnick, founder of Shanghai-based social media agency Wai Social, points to China’s robust gifting culture, the perception of luxury purchases as long-term investments, the brand recognition of heritage European houses, and the prestige associated with designer names.
She believes the convergence of these economic, cultural and technological trends have empowered Chinese female consumers and elevated their spending power and status as a driving force shaping luxury demand in China and globally.
“Due to the highly-interconnected global luxury market, the influence of wealthy Chinese women is not limited to domestic markets,” she says. “As these individuals engage in international business and travel, their impact on luxury markets worldwide may become more pronounced.”
Luxury market transformation
Siboni underscores two pivotal transformations in the luxury market. Firstly, luxury goods were traditionally gifted for social status, but that has now evolved into a more personal arena, with individuals today purchasing luxury items for self-indulgence. Moreover, the market has shifted from an outward display of success to an inward expression of identity. Both are driven by the empowerment of women, he argues.
When it comes to choosing luxury items, wedding dress store co-founder Yang personally values the brand’s story and the intrinsic power it conveys.
“This is something I want to showcase in social settings or share with others,” she says. “Therefore, in my brand choices, I prefer lesser-known, high-end luxury brands. I believe that the luxury market in China is still relatively homogeneous, and many excellent traditional European brands are not well-known domestically.”
Yang’s purchasing mindset prioritizes quality over quantity. Particularly in recent years, with the economic environment being less favorable, she notes consumer attitudes towards luxury goods in China have become more grounded and rational.
“As a result, the frequency of my purchases has decreased. Nonetheless, I continue to selectively acquire items that hold a special place in my heart,” she says.
“Gen Z would be more subjected to buying more trendy items compared to older women, who might be seeking more classic and heritage-based luxury goods,” she says.
Liu Wen, Yuhan Wang, and Chet Lo: Chinese British Fashion Award highlights
The annual fashion fundraiser that defines the protagonists steering the industry took place last night at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Running since 1989, the star-studded British Fashion Awards garners global attention as one of the most-talked-about ceremonies of the year. Over on TikTok, posts about the event have accumulated 117.5 million views and counting.
British Womenswear Designer of the Year went to Ferragamo creative director Maximilian Davis, while collab-queen Martine Rose scooped the Menswear Designer of the Year gong. The most coveted award, the Designer of the Year prize went to JW Anderson and Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson.
China’s independent designers did not make the cut for this year’s nominations. However, New Zealand-born, London-based Chinese fashion photographer Annie Lai deserves an honorable mention for being recognized as one of the British Fashion Council’s New Wave Creatives of 2023.
Chinese supermodel Liu Wen was nominated alongside Alton Mason, Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Anok Yai, and Mona Tougaard for the Model of the Year award. However, Paloma Esser, a celebrated fixture on countless catwalks, won out, the first curve model to do so, foreshadowing an optimistic future for the industry.
From Nicole Scherzinger wearing Patrick McDowell to presenter Amelia Dimoldenberg donning Chopova Lowena, it was an evening of celebrating new talent as much as established names. As part of the British Fashion Council’s Newgen initiative, Yuhan Wang and Chet Lo were stars of the night.
Wang dressed English model and TV personality Abbey Clancey in a frilled black lace look. Meanwhile, thriving Chinese-American new talent Lo broke through the news feed-noise for dressing two major attendees, popstar Leigh-Anne Pinnock and American actress Lisa Rinna, in his instantly recognizable 3D spikes. The emerging designer also dressed the event’s co-presenter, Maya Jama, in a red bespoke three-piece ensemble.
This year has been an empowering one for China’s fashion industry, with talents such as Feng Chen Wang, Susan Fang, Didu, and Angel Chen all thriving and establishing their positions through solid global collaborations.
Although Wang and Lo did provide some of the evening’s most memorable designs, this year’s British Fashion Awards shows that China still has quite a way to go to compete with the reputation and overall scope of global industry leaders.
China’s retail disruptor ENG Concept launches Office Kiko collection
Multi-brand high-end store ENG Concept continues to innovate in China’s retail scene, launching exclusive co-branded collections, erecting impressive in-store installations, and hosting major parties for the mainland’s fashion crowd. Its latest initiative is with model, actress, and singer Kiko Mizuhara’s label Office Kiko.
This week’s Chinese brand collaboration column spotlights ENG’s Office Kiko collection, Clot founder Edison Chen’s daughter Alaia Chen expanding into streetwear collectibles, and Peak Performance’s embrace of the Asian square toast craze via a leader in the space.
Office Kiko x ENG Concept
Details: Capsule collection and ACC headphones, December 7 in Chengdu and December 9 in Shanghai
Social context: ENG Concept has 15,600 followers on Weibo and its official hashtag, #EngConceptStore, has 721,000 views, while #Kikoshuiyuanxizi (#Kiko水原希子) has 676,700 views on Xiaohongshu.
- As a creative space, Office Kiko frequently collaborates to translate its brand identity into new realms, while celebrating artists and designers all around the world — this collection features prints by Japanese artist Reiji Fukitsu. Now, Office Kiko is attracting China’s fashion-forward fans of Eng Concept.
- The exclusive collection draws like-minded consumers to Eng Concept store, with both brands sharing similar creative visions, and a love for throwing a great party. Kiko Mizuhara was behind the huge Heaven by Marc Jacobs event in LA earlier this year.
- From installing a sculpture in collaboration with ERL, to releasing an exclusive clothing line with Misbhv, ENG Concept is forever collaborating to champion the brands that it stocks in innovative ways.
Fragment Design x Alaia x Steiff
Details: “Mini Panda Bearry Cut” key ring, December 1
Social context: The hashtag #fragmentdesignxalaiaxsteiff has 492,000 reads on Weibo, and 11,100 on Xiaohongshu.
- One year on from the official “Panda Bearry Cute” teddy bear toy, Clot founder Edison Chen’s daughter Alaia Chen has released a second drop with a keyring version.
- Sporting the Steiff tag in the ear, the bear combines the streetwear and toy collectible markets as a playful gesture for the holiday season. As a celebrity herself, Alaia has a solid fan-base online that follows Edison’s moves in streetwear, so this crossover rides on that.
- Currently, the most popular Steiff bears listed on resale site StockX are created by collaborations, including from the likes of Girls Don’t Cry, Supreme, Fragment, and Bearbrick. Perhaps, this latest offering will join the gang.
Tooos Bakery x Peak Performance
Details: Four exclusive flavors of mini toasts
Social context: On Xiaohongshu, Tooos Bakery has over 1,000 followers. On Weibo, #PeakPerformance has 13.47 million reads.
- Chinese consumers flock to Tooos Bakery specifically for its square toast, so Peak Performance is capitalizing on that popularity with this collaboration.
- With this move, the Swedish outerwear brand shows how localized brand collaboration strategies can effectively engage with specific market segments — this project is a fun way for the brand to promote the Helium Extreme Jacket and star in multiple social media posts in the mainland.
- Thanks to China’s square toast craze, Tooos Bakery has become a vehicle for Western brands, from Burton to Slam Jam and Salomon, to creatively reach Chinese consumers.
Is Farfetch the latest casualty of Chinese and American consumer pullback?
What happened: Luxury e-commerce firm Farfetch is said to be contemplating delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and going private, amid rumors of financial difficulty and a “troubled” IPO.
José Neves, CEO and founder of London-headquartered Farfetch, is said to be in discussions about taking his multi-brand e-tailer private with its shareholders, which include Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Swiss luxury conglomerate Richemont, according to reports.
Eyebrows were raised last month, when Farfetch delayed releasing its Q3 2023 financial results.
“The company expects to provide a market update in due course. The company will not be providing any forecasts or guidance at this time, and any prior forecasts or guidance should no longer be relied upon,” the e-commerce platform stated then, according to Drapers.
The Jing Take: Signs of trouble have been on the horizon for some time at Farfetch, but never so apparent until recent weeks.
The e-tailer had previously entertained notions of a now-stalled deal to purchase a 47.5% stake in competitor Yoox Net-A-Porter. “Loss-making Farfetch looks ill-equipped to complete the transaction with Richemont. Shares in the loss-making company are down more than 70%,” analysts said in late November.
In Q2 2023, Farfetch fell short of projected revenue, as retailers reduced orders for the upcoming fall and winter seasons owing to excess inventories — with analysts deeming its second-quarter earnings report as “very disappointing,” according to Reuters.
“We have seen a less buoyant luxury customer in the US. In Mainland China … The reality is the recovery has not been as robust as we had expected when we reported our Q1 results,” Neves, the Farfetch CEO, stated in the aforementioned report.
With the post-Covid reopening of China and the rest of the world over the last year and a half, forecasts were initially rosy, and expectations high for many retailers including Farfetch. But in recent months, that optimism has dwindled.
With American consumers spending less on luxury over the past year, many brands have cast their sights on China, with high hopes that Chinese consumers would offset some of the decline in North America and Europe.
However, this has not proven to be the case for e-tailers such as Farfetch, as China continues to navigate what experts call “a crisis of consumer confidence.”
Meanwhile, troubled e-commerce firm Farfetch recently estimated that its overall gross merchandise value (GMV) would reach approximately $4.4 billion in 2023. This estimate was a downgrade from an earlier projected figure of $4.9 billion, and whether Farfetch will reach its latest anticipated GMV has yet to be seen, but the road ahead for the e-commerce platform looks uncertain, if not rocky.
Amid a difficult global retail landscape, Farfetch’s revenue dropped 1.3% YoY to $527 million in 2Q 2023. The e-tailer’s gross profit decreased 10% YoY to $242 million for the quarter, resulting in a gross profit margin of 42.5%, down from 46.2% the previous year, according to reports.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.
McKinsey update highlights new era for Chinese consumer spending
A recent update from McKinsey & Company, “China Consumption: Start of a New Era,” reveals significant shifts in consumer behavior and corporate performance in China’s retail sector. The findings highlight a move away from the country’s previous high-growth era, with implications for both local and international businesses.
A shift in retail growth and consumer sentiment
China’s retail sector, long relied upon for double-digit growth, has entered a period of more modest increases. The third quarter of 2022 saw retail sales of goods grow by only 3%, a marked slowdown across various categories such as cosmetics, clothing, and appliances. Despite a 7.5% increase in retail sales in October, indicators suggest that slower growth is here to stay, at least for the near term.
“We’re looking back to the third quarter of 2023, which brought an increase of retail sales in the mid-single digits,” Daniel Zipser, a Senior Partner at McKinsey, noted in an accompanying video. Consumer sentiment has significantly plateaued, hovering around all-time lows since April 2022. This is partly due to a drop in residential property transactions and declining exports.
Despite a 5% unemployment rate in urban areas and a 6% annual increase in disposable incomes, Chinese consumers remain cautious, especially regarding property spending. This is perhaps unsurprising, given continued uncertainty surrounding the country’s real estate market going into the new year. China’s household savings rate is significantly higher than pre-Covid levels, indicating potential for future consumer expenditure.
Service sector and digital consumption
Despite a broader retail slowdown, China’s service sector, especially travel and entertainment, is surging back to life. As Zipser notes, “We see travel roaring back, with domestic travel now surpassing pre-pandemic levels.” This resurgence in domestic travel is more than a mere rebound; it represents a profound shift in consumer behavior. With current constraints on international travel due to visa processing times and high-priced flights, there’s an increased focus among Chinese consumers on premium domestic experiences, such as high-end dining and luxury accommodations.
Zipser does anticipate a resurgence in international travel as logistical barriers ease, reflecting the strong underlying appetite for travel among Chinese consumers. This trend is indicative of a larger transformation within the service sector, where a pivot towards enriched domestic experiences is poised to continue influencing market dynamics, alongside a potential return to international travel.
In the digital sphere, this year’s Singles’ Day (also known as Double 11) shopping festival, a key event in China’s retail calendar, reached RMB 1.1 trillion ($155.3 billion) in gross merchandise value (GMV), a modest 2% expansion over the previous year largely driven by discounts and promotions. However, livestreaming sales surged, contributing significantly to total sales, reflecting an ongoing move towards digital consumption channels.
Corporate performance: divergence and innovation
The performance of 80 leading, publicly listed consumer companies in China presents a varied landscape. About one-quarter of these companies experienced year-to-date double-digit growth, while 12% faced double-digit declines. “Even during an era of single-digit growth, we actually have pockets where we see very healthy and strong growth,” adds Zipser. Success is increasingly linked to innovating brand launches, business models, and agility in responding to market changes.
Long-term prospects and cautious optimism
Despite current challenges, McKinsey holds that the long-term prospects for China’s retail sector remain robust. As Zipser puts it, “My outlook for 2024 remains cautiously optimistic.” The retail market is expected to grow by 5% annually, potentially positioning China as the largest global growth market in the near future. “A 4% to 5% growth would actually still add the retail sales in China of an India and Indonesia today combined,” Zipser concludes, underscoring the immense potential of the Chinese consumer market.
- Shift in retail growth: China’s retail sector, previously known for its double-digit growth, saw only a 3% increase in Q3 2022, indicating an end to the high-growth era.
- Consumer sentiment plateauing: Consumer sentiment has stagnated since April 2022, influenced by reduced property transactions and declining exports, despite a 5% urban unemployment rate and a 6% annual rise in disposable incomes.
- Service sector growth: Contrasting the retail slowdown, the service sector, especially travel and entertainment, exhibits robust growth, signaling a shift towards service consumption.
- Digital consumption rise: The Singles’ Day shopping festival reached RMB 1.1 trillion ($155.3 billion) in GMV in 2023, with a modest 2% growth driven by promotions and a surge in livestreaming sales.
- Corporate performance variance: Among 80 leading consumer companies in China, a quarter achieved double-digit growth, while 12% faced significant declines. Success is increasingly linked to innovation and responsiveness to market changes.
- Long-term market outlook: Despite current challenges, China’s retail sector is projected to grow by 5% annually, potentially making it the largest global growth market, supported by an increase in upper-middle and high-income households.
Cardi B in runway debut at Balenciaga LA show
In an audacious, tongue-in-cheek display, Balenciaga chose Los Angeles as the backdrop for its Fall 2024 collection debut on December 2. For the first time, the streets of LA, lined with towering palms, served as the runway for the Paris-based maison. The introduction of the 10XL Sneaker, was a signature Balenciaga move.
Demna Gvasalia, the brand’s visionary creative director, crafted a narrative that seamlessly merged the relaxed style ethos of Los Angeles with Balenciaga’s bold, hard-edged aesthetic.
After featuring in two Balenciaga campaigns and gracing prominent billboards for the brand, Cardi B captivated the audience by making her runway debut in a striking blue faux fur coat. Held in a street right in the center of Hollywood, with Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian and sister Kendall Jenner front row, this runway was as much about the convergence of high fashion with American pop culture and celebrity as it was about Gvasalia’s sartorial vision.
The Jing Take:
The show opened with outfits encapsulating a quintessential LA lifestyle: activewear staples such as shorts, leggings, and sweatshirts reflecting the city’s penchant for wellness and outdoor activities. Then a cheeky nod to the American velour tracksuit of the early 2000s marked a transition to more urban, street-inspired fashion – a humorous, self-conscious ode to LA culture in the naughties.
Low-slung trousers and cropped hooded jackets were accessorized with striking knee-high Alaska Ugg-style boots. But as the collection unfolded, a neo-grunge segment emerged, dominated by oversized, layered outfits. Here, asymmetrical trousers, an embroidered leopard coat, and an intriguing fusion of leather bags with nylon totes showcased Balenciaga’s knack for reinventing classic elements with a modern twist.
The narrative then shifted to upscale daywear, where the intersection of informality and glamor was evident. The collection is marked by tailoring and the exaggerated proportions that Gvasalia is known for, with a notable hooded jacket featuring an integrated scarf — a clever design element that seemed to acknowledge the omnipresence of paparazzi in celebrity culture.
As for accessories, there was the Rodeo bag, inspired by the famous Beverly Hills street, an eyewear collection with evolved mask and batwing shapes, and of course who can forget those new gigantic 10XL Sneakers giving new meaning to exaggerated footwear. This was a show meant as a cultural statement, a fusion of LA’s distinctive style, celebrity culture and the brand’s avant-garde European design philosophy.
The eveningwear segment was the elegant apex of the show, paying homage to Cristobal Balenciaga’s legacy. The collection featured highly defined shapes and silhouettes, blending historical references with contemporary design. The grand finale, a monumental white gown with structured face shield, was a dramatic statement that nodded to the theme of privacy and celebrity that runs deep in LA’s cultural fabric.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.
China’s new beauty trend: Body care ‘skinification’
Chinese consumers are no longer focusing just on facial skincare, but grooming themselves from head to toe. They now recognize body care as an essential component of their self-care rituals.
From May 2022 to April 2023, the sales of body care products on Tmall and Taobao exceeded $7.2 billion (52 billion RMB), outperforming the beauty and skincare category. On lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, searches for “body care” (身体护理) increased by 750 percent year on year in March this year. Searches for “facial skincare” (面部护理) increased only by 56 percent YoY.
As the post-1990s generations become the main consumers of shampoo and hair care products, China’s body care market has seen consumers grow increasingly picky about the effects of the products they buy, as well as their texture and fragrance.
Visible skin improvements are the priority. However, homegrown consumers also seek mental and physical wellness from their body care routines. For these young shoppers, self-care rituals reflect their lifestyle. An ordinary bottle of cleansing shower gel, or moisturizing body lotion bought from the supermarket no longer satisfies their needs.
As a result, local C-beauty brands are upgrading their products’ functional and emotional value.
Emerging C-beauty brands going premium, specializing
Although the Chinese market has been crowded with high-end international beauty and niche fragrance players like Chanel, Byredo, and Jo Malone, their brands’ body care lines are not intensely marketed. They are not core business drivers, but rather complement the brands’ makeup and perfume categories. Additionally, their body care offerings are limited in terms of variety and functionality and may have prohibitive price points.
A roller coaster of emerging C-beauty body care brands has emerged in light of the fast-moving consumer trends and rising expectations towards personal care. These homegrown labels position themselves in the premium category (compared to fast-consumption goods on supermarket shelves) and attract local consumers by leveraging the guochao wave by including Chinese aesthetic elements and cultural references.
These brands have quickly engaged young customers by elevating the body care products’ facets, from functionality to unique visual packaging and relatively affordable prices.
For instance, Chillmore (且悠), a homegrown scented body care label based on natural ingredients for sensitive skin, was founded in 2020 and has swiftly become one of China’s popular body care brands. It caters to a diversified audience by offering a wide range of products — shower gel, body lotion, body oil, deodorant, hand creams, hair mask, and lip oil.
Its signature body oil product retails for $33 (239 RMB) for 120ml, and the deodorant costs $16.5 (119 RMB). Its moody, oriental scent instantly immerses consumers in a Chinese poetic vibe. Packaging also plays a vital role in attracting young consumers nowadays. Chillmore’s is minimalist yet luxurious, reflecting its positioning.
Body care ‘skinification’
Besides basic cleaning and moisturizing functions, skincare brands have further developed their body care lines to include facial care ingredients of proven efficacy, and spa-level body treatments, in a trend known as ‘skinification’.
According to the China Household Chemicals Industry Association’s China Body Skin Care White Paper 2023, “The demands for body care are similar to the facial skin care users’ demands for moisturizing, brightening, and anti-aging.”
This summer, China’s hyaluronic acid supplier Bloomage Biotech launched X Lab, a new generation functional body care label, and a hydrating shower gel containing patented hyaluronic acids to achieve a similar hydrating effect as its facial cleanser.
C-beauty brand Huko also created two hand care products that cater to the buzzy Xiaohongshu skincare routine called “morning C, night A” (早C晚A), which refers to applying vitamin C kincare products in the morning and retinol at night.
‘Nourishing skin with oil’ trend expands to body care
In recent years, “nourishing skin with oil” (以油养肤) has become a buzz skincare trend following “morning C, night A”. It has also expanded from facial care to body care.
With the arrival of winter, oil-based shower gel has become a category with great potential because of its dual function of cleansing and nourishing the skin thanks to its oil-soluble formula.
The shower oil gel market is still nascent. The competition is relatively limited, offering a blue ocean of opportunities. The top sellers in this category are still international brands such as L’Occitane and Bioderma.
But local brands are quickly catching up. Kokomi and Bathfeel launched a water and oil dual-phase mist spray, combining plant essential oils with hydrosols and fruit acids to gently clean cuticles and moisturize the skin. Chinese bath brand Rever offers shower oil products for different skin types.
With the upgraded demand for personal care in the post-pandemic era, body skincare has become a new symbol of self-love and self-pleasure for sophisticated young Chinese consumers. The trend is here to stay.
The Updated Personal Care White Paper 2022 released by CBNData and Tmall shows that more than 80 percent of respondents are paying more attention to their hair and body care routines. According to iResearch data, body and hair care is the second largest category in China’s beauty market, with a total market volume of about $11 billion (80 billion RMB).
Juliette Duveau is founder at The Chinese Pulse is a creative marketing agency, dedicated to the Chinese contemporary market and specialized in the fashion, beauty, luxury, and lifestyle industries.
Opinion: How hospitality’s glaring absence from Interbrand’s Top 100 impacts luxury
Every year, the leadership team of practically every major brand eagerly awaits the results of the “100 Most Valuable Brands” by Interbrand.
While every ranking has its shortcomings, Interbrand’s list is important enough to be proudly presented by brands that claim a spot, especially those that gain points and move up the ladder. Over the last few weeks, my inbox was filled with press releases and LinkedIn posts from brands, including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, celebrating significant gains in brand equity and desirability.
When looking at the list, I was not surprised that one category was missing: hospitality. If we exclude Disney — which includes theme parks, hotels, and cruises among a plethora of other businesses — there is no hospitality brand among the top 100. Not one.
Why was I not surprised? A few years back, just before the pandemic, the hospitality publication Skift interviewed me about exactly the same topic: Why is there not even one hospitality brand on the list? My answer: “[Hospitality brands] don’t want to compete with themselves, so they create false divisions [by creating a sheer endless array of brands with little to no differentiation].
“They define user groups and create products around them — a rational process, but people aren’t rational consumers. The internal differentiation makes little difference, because the other major hospitality companies are doing the same thing. That’s why many hotel brands become empty umbrellas. Everything gets hollow because there is no substance to brand definitions.”
I would repeat the same answer today for many brands. When brands are merely trademarks with certain design cues that fundamentally promise what everyone else does, there is no value. Therefore, not having any hospitality brand in the top 100 is not an oversight but rather a stark warning for the entire luxury sector. In an age where brand value is intricately tied to customer perception, emotional response, and human experience, the hospitality industry’s failure to make the list is a clear indication of deeper underlying issues.
In an age where brand value is intricately tied to customer perception, emotional response, and human experience, the hospitality industry’s failure to make the list is a clear indication of deeper underlying issues.
At the core of this omission lies a fundamental disconnect in client-centric brand storytelling and experience delivery. Despite all the promises of creating a home, hotels often fail to place guests at the center of attention. How often have you truly been treated as a human during check-in? How frequently did the check-in staff genuinely inquire about your feelings, ask about your plans and goals for your stay, and then offer to create an experience that makes your stay unforgettable? It’s the exception, even in luxury hospitality. And it is an exception in many luxury realities across categories.
The essence of luxury hospitality is about crafting unique, memorable experiences. Yet, many brands in this sector have shifted their focus inward, centering their operations on efficiency and profitability rather than guest experience. This subtle shift has significant repercussions. It dilutes the brand narrative, making it less about the guest and more about the business, thereby eroding the very foundation of luxury hospitality: making guests feel special and valued.
Another critical factor contributing to this decline is the inconsistency in delivering a consistent brand experience. Luxury is synonymous with precision, consistency, and attention to detail. However, numerous brands in the hospitality sector struggle to maintain these standards across different locations and touchpoints. This inconsistency leads to a fractured brand image, leaving guests with varied experiences that often fail to meet the high standards expected of luxury brands.
It’s imperative for hospitality brands to realize that what they are doing today is simply not enough. Creating a compelling brand story is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires continuous nurturing and evolution. This story must be deeply embedded in every aspect of the guest experience, from the first point of contact to the last, and repeated consistently. Furthermore, rigorous training and development of staff are essential to ensure that this narrative is delivered consistently and authentically at every touchpoint.
Claiming that the client is at the core means nothing if they are not truly at the core. A dramatic shift is needed for hospitality players to claim their rightful place among the world’s most valuable brands. This is a crucial moment for introspection and action for all in the luxury sector.
This is an opinion piece by Daniel Langer, CEO of Équité, recognized as one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch.” He serves as an executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu and as a professor of luxury at NYU, New York. He’s authored best-selling books on luxury management in English and Chinese, and is a respected global keynote speaker. Daniel frequently conducts masterclasses on various luxury topics across all continents. He’s a sought-after luxury expert, appearing on platforms like Bloomberg TV, Forbes, The Economist, and more. Holding an MBA and a Ph.D. in luxury management, Daniel has received education from Harvard Business School. All opinions expressed in the column are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.
Follow him: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drlanger, Instagram: @equitebrands /@drdaniellanger
The Vampire’s Wife, Raheem Sterling, House of Creed, and all the collabs to have on your radar
Featured in the Collabs & Drops newsletter, here are the best brand collaborations in China and the rest of the world to have on your radar for the week ahead.
November 29: House of Creed x Shawn Kolodny
The House of Creed has announced a partnership with artist Shawn Kolodny, combining the worlds of fragrance and art with a major holiday season sculpture. The window installations are located at 30 Creed boutiques around the world, including two in China, as well as a 5×5 installation which is touring Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Macau.
November 29: The Vampire’s Wife x Globe-Trotter
Designing a collection of XL trunks, cases, vanity and jewelry cases, The Vampire’s Wife and British luxury luggage manufacturer Globe-Trotter have come together for Fall 2023, allowing the fashion brand to venture into new product categories.
December 1: Raheem Sterling x Clarks Originals
Clarks Originals continues to be a cultural collab innovator, most recently working with one of the Premier League’s most stylish football players Raheem Sterling on a Wallabee footwear silhouette.
December 1: Ganni x Dr Martens
Celebrating a decade of Dr Martens’ classic Jadon boot, Scandi it-girl brand Ganni has launched an official take, cut from recycled and leather-free fabric.
December 2: Daniel Arsham x Pokémon
Running until May 20, 2024, at Guangzhou K11, the Daniel Arsham x Pokémon exhibition, “Artifacts of Indigo Plateau,” is a continuation of the artist’s series that began in 2020. The exhibition showcases three-dimensional Pokémon sculptures and paintings.
December 2: Canada Goose x BAPE
Merging statement outerwear and collectibles culture, Canada Goose and BAPE are celebrating the latter’s 30th anniversary with a collection that’s accompanied by Be@rbricks.
Nike’s ‘NFTee’ sells out but sparks backlash. Plus, more Web3 drops
One month it’s sneakers; the next it’s T-shirts that are receiving a Web3-connected upgrade. That’s the case for Nike’s digital community platform, Dot Swoosh, which finally dropped its long-awaited “Tinaj” tee collection this week. The second product to arrive from the sportswear label’s Web3 venture was another sell-out success, but critiques are already rolling in about Nike’s virtual strategy.
In other news this week, Web3-native beauty label Kiki World has opened up its polls once again, inviting its community to vote for their favorite nail color. The brand recently launched an innovative NFC-chipped press-on nails series that, when scanned, shares wearers’ LinkedIn, Instagram, and email information. As they say, let your nails do the talking (or, in this case, the networking).
The ‘TINAJ’ tee is sold out. https://t.co/S6izrooRgf
— .SWOOSH (@dotSWOOSH) November 29, 2023
Nike’s “Tinaj” tee sells out, sparks backlash across the Dot Swoosh community
What happened: Following the success of its debut “OF1” IRL sneaker drop in October, Nike was back this month with its “Tinaj” T-shirt collection release on November 29.
Exclusive to Dot Swoosh members, the shirt features the Dot Swoosh logo, as well as the slogan “This Is Not A JPEG” — a satirical response to NFT skeptics who often refer to tokens as nothing more than JPEGs. The collection sold out in 30 minutes via the SNKRS app.
Why it matters: While Nike’s sell-out success reaffirmed the growing demand for Web3-enabled apparel, not everyone was a happy customer.
Dot Swoosh members took to social hub X (formerly Twitter) to decry that Nike had failed to notify its community about the drop’s new launch date after it was originally postponed. Others criticized the lack of supply Nike had produced, as well as bugs on the platform that prevented them from copping the T-shirt in time. “This is a disappointment. Hold back by one week to make it a shock drop and not allow exclusive access to Tinaj holders to buy,” one X user wrote.
Kiki World takes networking to the next level with NFC-connected nails
What happened: Kiki World, the revolutionary new player joining the beauty brand scene, is inviting its community to vote again on its next product release, dubbed “Chipped.” Members will be able to choose their favorite color for the label’s upcoming press-on nail launch until December 31, celebrating its recent drop of NFC-connected press-ons.
Wearers can invite their social circle to scan their nails to access information, such as their LinkedIn account, Instagram, and email, disrupting the way we network and exchange contacts.
Why it matters: A disruptor through and through, Kiki World is transforming the beauty ecosystem one crowdsourced project at a time. Chipped, for example, is turning business cards into business claws, an activation that has caused a buzz across the industry.
The startup’s commitment to identifying its consumers as co-creators ushers in a new playbook for beauty brands — one that competitors will undoubtedly be taking a leaf out of soon.
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Rising label Paolina Russo launches Roblox wearables as avatar dressing booms
What happened: London-based fashion label and LVMH Prize 2023 shortlister Paolina Russo is leaping into Roblox to outfit in-game avatars in its trademark knitwear pieces.
In partnership with digital fashion platform Sknups, three key looks from the upcoming brand’s fall 2023 collection have been digitized into in-game virtual versions. The project coincides with a new installation from the brand at Dover Street Market London, which launched on November 30.
Why it matters: Roblox has emerged as a thriving destination for rising creators to experiment with aesthetics and reach wider audiences. For lesser-known, cult labels like Paolina Russo, the activation marks a milestone in the brand’s rise to prominence across the fashion industry.
Gaming platforms are a hotspot for independent brands to gain cultural recognition. According to Roblox’s “2023 Digital Expression, Fashion & Beauty Trends” report, 51 percent of participants said they are very or extremely likely to consider a brand in the physical world after wearing or trying on a brand’s item virtually.
How to generate blockbuster social engagement? Ask Travis Scott and Timothée Chalamet
Fan culture trumps all when it comes to hyped releases. This week’s global brand collaboration spotlights prove exactly that, with American-French actor Timothée Chalamet breaking through the Fall 2023 noise of the online streetwear sphere with a custom pair of Nike Dunk Lows to promote his upcoming movie, Wonka.
Other drops with booming fan culture behind them this week include Travis Scott’s clothing collection and timepiece with Audemars Piguet, along with Moncler x Rick Owens, which is fronted by some furry boots.
Moncler x Rick Owens
Details: Fall 2023 collection, November 30
Social context: On TikTok, “rick owens x moncler” has 2.4 billion views. The joint Instagram post of Rick Owens and Moncler has over 10,700 likes, and #monclerrickowens has 1,894 posts.
- Rick Owens brings his eponymous brand’s gothic, avant-garde imprint to Moncler, producing shaggy and strappy oversized boots, as well as ready-to-wear with buttons and holes that allow for customizable adjustments.
- Moncler’s 70th anniversary has been the most cinematic collaboration of the year, featuring 70 collaborations by seven different designers reinterpreting the Moncler Maya jacket.
- Moncler x Rick Owens is boasting meteoric social media figures thanks to the blockbuster activations across 10 cities in the months leading up to the drop. There was a Huangzhou media light show, a takeover of the Chengdu Tower, and a star-studded London exhibition event that saw superstars Alicia Keys and Little Simz perform.
Cactus Jack x Audemars Piguet
Details: $201,000 Royal Oak timepiece and clothing capsule, December 1
Social context: Travis Scott posted a photo promoting the collaboration on Instagram, which garnered over 774,500 likes.The first Instagram post by Audemars Piguet received 64,400 likes, whereas the two non-Cactus Jack-related posts before that received under 10,000 likes.
- Following on from Playstation, Jordan, and Dior collaborations, Cactus Jack joins the luxury timepiece world with an official limited-edition Royal Oak watch and apparel collection.
- As the collection will be sold exclusively through the rapper’s Cactus Jack platform, it suggests this collab is aimed at Travis Scott fans rather than the luxury watch’s current clientele, allowing the company to reach a younger demographic.
- The almost one million likes on Travis Scott’s post about this collaboration prove just how important fan bases are in driving engagement. This tie-up brings star-quality marketing exposure to Audemars Piguet, further strengthening its well-established reputation within the industry.
Timothée Chalamet x Nike
Details: Dunk Lows to promote the upcoming Wonka movie, with five pairs to be won in the Pure Imagination contest ending December 3.
Social context: Timothée Chalamet’s post about the limited edition sneakers has over 905,000 likes.
- Elevated movie merchandise is a win for all involved when it is marketed as a collector’s item — only five pairs of the Nike Dunk Lows designed by Wonka protagonist Timothée Chalamet are up for grabs.
- The exceptionally limited stock, along with Chalamet’s involvement, makes these sneakers the secret sauce for marketing the movie, especially as the sneaker world is dominated by young consumers who are likely to watch Wonka.
- For the majority who don’t secure a pair of the sneakers, Converse is also releasing funky collaborative footwear to promote the Wonka movie on December 7 — an interesting strategy for the movie to reach young streetwear fans.
From Loewe to Swarovski, hand-painted murals get a luxury upgrade
The advent of anamorphic advertising hails exciting prospects for brands. But where does it leave age-old crafts like hand-painting murals?
“Hand-painted advertising has experienced a global resurgence, and its momentum, further buoyed by social media, shows no signs of waning. These murals are a testament to human artistry, offering a tangible, authentic touch that resonates deeply with audiences,” Eric Sas, co-founder and CEO of anamorphic 3D technology company BCN Visuals, tells Jing Daily.
Handcrafted murals, for example, have recently experienced virality. Their popularity shows that there’s still an appetite for the human touch, even among the younger generations.
Last year, a clip documenting artists hand-painting a mural in New York’s Soho from TikTok account Soho Suiting circulated in November. Featuring a lifelike image of Bella Hadid for Swarovski, the video racked up over 20 million views.
The account has since continued to follow the ever-changing canvases dotted around the city after recognizing there was demand for such content, from Gucci trunk murals to Longchamp campaigns.
@sohosuiting Replying to @jewelswithjules day 2 of Ms. Bella #bellahadid #swarovski #mural #billboard @swarovski @babybella777 ♬ Paradise – TELL YOUR STORY music by Ikson™
“[Mural art] is doing well because it’s so human,” Lee Bofkin, CEO and co-founder of Global Street Art tells Jing Daily. The London-based advertising agency specializes in hand-painted advertising and public murals, and has created works for the likes of sneaker label On and Wedgwood.
Bofkin outlines how the craft can act as an antidote to today’s digital overload.
“Human-powered skills are still as relevant as ever, if not more relevant in a time when digital creativity is so increasingly disposable,” he says. “It’s incredibly impactful; it’s the easiest type of outdoor advertising to share online. People stop and take photos all the time when we’re painting, and long after.”
Where old meets new
With both traditional craft and emerging innovation at the forefront of advertising, brands are opting to harness both.
“In essence, both mediums cater to different aspects of marketing and, rather than compete, can coexist harmoniously and offer diverse brand expression,” Sas says.
Loewe is exploring both ends of the spectrum. The Spanish fashion house employed both mediums for its widely popular “Howls Moving Castle” campaign earlier this year. In Chengdu, the brand captivated passersby with a 3D billboard inspired by the anime classic’s distinct visual cues. Meanwhile, it went back to basics with hand-painted advertisements for the streets of London.
Bofkin argues that deploying a mix of modes may help a brand avoid getting lost in the noise, but this approach doesn’t guarantee staying power.
“Brands need to be more relevant in culture and isolated messaging only goes so far. The things that work best are integrating outdoor (like mural painting) within wider parts of the campaign,” he says.
Today, brands are looking for ways to combat waning interest, especially as they strive to capture the vacillating attention of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. But with consumer advertising burnout rife, can novel advancements like 3D billboards offer a solution?
“Yes and no,” marketing and brand strategist Leland Grossman says. “In some regards the gimmicky nature only reinforces the fatigue. On the flip side, the technology has the potential to truly wow folks, as I believe the MSG Sphere has done.”
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Sas believes that there’s a place for newness and old-school craft in today’s marketing playbook, but harnessing new technologies is what will keep brands ahead of the curve – and the competition.
“Ultimately, as the marketing landscape shifts towards more interactive and immersive experiences, pivoting to 3D digital displays is not just a progressive step; it’s imperative for brands aiming to maintain a competitive edge and offer an unparalleled brand experience in a Web3 and AI-centric world,” he says.
From Mugler x H&M, to Nike x Tiffany: 2023’s top price premium collabs
Despite predictions that “collab fatigue” was on the horizon, 2023 has seen a consistent stream of co-branded releases wind up on resale sites at record-level price premiums.
A price premium refers to the percentage that the price of a product exceeds its original retail price. In short, these are items where the demand exceeds supply. Due to the novelty of two brands coming together for a unique project that differs from their solo offerings, released in a limited run via carefully curated distribution methods that drive hype, collaborations have seen some of the biggest upsurge in prices at resale in 2023.
According to global resale platform StockX’s latest Big Facts annual report, brands such as luxury watch manufacturer Blancpain, Mugler, Sporty & Rich, and Sandy Liang saw online searches spike due to blockbuster brand collabs. One of the biggest hits of the year, sparking headline-making queues outside stores all over the world, Mugler x H&M saw searches for the French fashion house increase by 4,529%, according to StockX.
Among the collection’s most popular items, the Mugler H&M Corset-Waist Hooded Jacket is currently being sold at a 65% price premium, and the Mugler H&M Mesh-Paneled Bodysuit is listed at a 166% premium.
Unlike Mugler x H&M, Nike and Tiffany’s collaboration in March this year received widespread online criticism for the products’ design. However, StockX searches still increased 920%, with the Nike Air Force 1 Low by Tiffany & Co. being listed at a 191% premium.
Sneaker hype continues
Sneakers continued to lead the global resale market throughout 2023, with the Jordan 1 Retro Low Golf Travis Scott in Neutral Olive taking top spot, selling at a 397% price premium.
Close behind is the Jordan 1 Retro Low OG Sp Travis Scott Olive at a 342% premium, followed by the Nike SB Dunk Low collaboration with Born x Raised on the “One Block at a Time” sneaker, which was listed at a 323% premium.
Though “quiet luxury” has been a trending theme of the year, the sneaker resale culture boom continues, and should be on luxury brands’ radar. From Nike x Martine Rose seeing StockX searches rise by 448%, to New Balance x Ganni generating a 529% search increase, venturing into footwear via major sportswear players is a winning formula for brands. Take for instance Jacquemus’ most popular products on StockX – sat among the brand’s best-selling Le Grand Bambino and Le Chiquito handbags – are the Nike Air Humara LX sneakers, which debuted at the end of 2022.
Despite brands not directly financially benefiting from the resale market, the extended level of marketing exposure that sites such as Dewu, eBay, Depop, and StockX can generate, builds cultural capital and boosts reputations.
Seeing as high fashion sportswear and high-low crossovers produced the top hits of 2023 in the resale market, we can expect to catch more in droves in the year ahead. Watch this space.
Alibaba cancels Double 12 shopping festival
What Happened: On November 24, China’s largest e-commerce platform Alibaba’s Taobao announced that the Taobao ‘Double 12’ event — an end-of-year shopping festival that takes place on December 12 — will not be held this year.
Instead, the platform initiated a new large-scale event dubbed the ‘Taobao Year-End Good Price’ festival, which will be launched on December 9 at 8pm. Merchant recruitment is expected to begin this week.
Double 12 has always been a continuation of Singles’ Day, or also known as Double 11. While the latter has always been Tmall’s battleground for big brands to clear their inventory. Double 12 was originally invented as a festival reserved for small and medium-sized merchants on Taobao.
However, the shopping bonanza had been noticeably quiet. It lacked big names to drive traffic. Perhaps, Alibaba’s reinvented festival might spark some excitement.
The Jing Take: The Double 12 shopping festival has existed for over a decade — its sudden cancellation undermines shopping carnivals’ ability to attract consumers.
According to Alibaba’s 2024 second quarter financial results, Taobao and Tmall’s total online merchandise transaction volume has drastically declined. Their year-on-year revenue growth ranked second to last among Alibaba’s business segments. Since last year, Taobao and Tmall’s parent company stopped releasing data on its Single’s Day (also known as Double 11) gross merchandise value (GMV).
Although Alibaba was the first to introduce Double 11 and Double 12 shopping festivals, the events grew to encompass all e-commerce platforms, from JD.com and Pinduoduo to Douyin and Xiaohongshu, all diverting traffic from Alibaba.
Since 2015, Alibaba has applied for multiple related trademarks. However, Double 11 and Double 12 are commonly used terms. It would be impossible for Alibaba to ring fence these terms as its own and prohibit other platforms from using them. Hence, Alibaba is trying to create a new festival that belongs only to it.
However, for the new Taobao Year-End Good Price festival to succeed, Alibaba must clearly differentiate it from Singles’ Day.
From ‘sexual allure,’ to ‘full-time kids’: 2023’s top Gen Z buzzwords in China
China’s latest buzzwords are emblematic of its youth, offering insights into the nation’s evolving zeitgeist.
Continuing from our previous explainer, we explore six new slang words dominating conversations in 2023, from internet jargon to words that have entered mainstream vernacular. These terms provide a window into the narratives and identities defining China’s post-pandemic era, offering brands an unique insight into what’s top of mind with young Chinese consumers.
Full-time son and daughter (全职儿女): Adult children living at home
The term “full-time son and daughter” describes a growing segment of the young adult population who, facing a challenging job market amid sky-high youth unemployment rates and climbing house costs, or professional burnout caused by long work hours, opt to leave their careers and return home.
Unlike the “boomerang kid” phenomenon (an adult who returns to live with their parents at home), these individuals emphasize how they actively take care of household chores and provide emotional support, in lieu of paying rent. The shift towards full-time sons and daughters is particularly noticeable among recent graduates disillusioned by the grim employment landscape and young professionals seeking respite from the intense urban work-life balance. The majority of full-time sons and daughters see their living arrangement as temporary, as well as a time to relax and reflect, while they look for better jobs.
Sky-high fortune (泼天的富贵): When going viral means financial success
The term “sky-high fortune” encapsulates the massive rise in popularity and attention brands or individuals can experience by going viral. This term gained prominence in the wake of a significant brand crisis faced by Florasis, a Chinese cosmetics company, following controversial remarks by livestream host Li Jiaqi. The incident sparked a surge of fervent support for domestic beauty products, catapulting companies like Fenghua, Bai Xiang, and Erke into the spotlight.
Netizens flocked to the social media accounts and livestreams of these domestic brands, leaving comments like, “Are you ready to achieve sky-high wealth?” implying that a surge in website traffic would reap major profits.
As “ sky-high fortune” becomes a part of everyday vernacular, it has been applied in a wider variety of contexts. For instance, young people may ask, “When will I get a ‘sky-high fortune’?” to ponder their own prospects for sudden overnight success.
Far, far ahead (遥遥领先): China’s technological progress
The phrase “far, far ahead” was originally a catchphrase of Huawei’s consumer business group CEO Yu Chengdong who coined it to highlight what he cited as the technological superiority of Huawei’s smartphones, especially compared with those of rivals like Apple.
Initially received with a hint of skepticism, the term gained momentum and took on a positive connotation this year after the release of the Mate60 Pro, which is widely perceived by netizens as having significantly narrowed the gap between China’s semiconductor technology and that of the Western world. Nowadays, “far, far ahead” is used as a positive rallying cry for technological advancement in China.
E person, I person (E人I人): Examining personality types
The MBTI extrovert and introvert personality categories, colloquially known in China as an “e person” (E人) and an “I person” (I人), have gained significant traction among China’s youth as tools for self-discovery and social navigation this year.
People also often refer to people who fall into these two categories as shekong (社恐), or socially phobic, and sheniu (社牛), or social butterfly. The increasing popularity of personality tests among young people indicates their desire to understand themselves better.
Many young individuals use the labels “e person” and “I person” in social interactions to intuitively express their personalities, making social interactions more focused on communication styles and compatibility.
Main owner (主理人): The solopreneur
The term “main owner” (主理人), originally coined by boutique clothing designers to denote the creative and managerial force behind their brands, has evolved into a broader descriptor among freelancers and solo entrepreneurs.
Initially a mark of independent craftsmanship in the fashion industry, it soon expanded to encompass individuals managing their own TikTok accounts, podcasts, or other personal business ventures. Over time, it evolved into a more sophisticated descriptor for freelance roles, lending an air of gravitas and professionalism to such endeavors
This lexicon reflects a shift towards non-traditional career paths among today’s youth and the growing population of young people living unconventional lifestyles. The term’s proliferation, particularly among those not traditionally employed, has led to a nuanced shift in perception.
Now, declaring oneself as a “main owner” often carries an undercurrent of irony, subtly hinting at unemployment rather than signifying entrepreneurship.
Sexual allure (性张力): Mature magnetism
Meanwhile, the concept of sexual allure (性张力) is reshaping perceptions of sex appeal in the Chinese entertainment industry. The term celebrates the allure and charisma exuded by middle-aged actors, who often radiate a more potent sexual tension on screen than their younger counterparts, known as “little fresh meat.”
This shift represents a maturing of audience tastes, recognizing the depth and experience that comes with maturity, and questioning the disproportionate popularity and earnings of younger actors.
Melodic marketing: Aesop gift kits chime with consumers
Overview: With the holiday season in full swing, Aesop has unveiled gift kits inspired by Chinese traditional music. The kits feature two special packaging designs created by Chinese paper artist Xu Sanhuang, available only through online channels. Xu translates sound into visually striking waveforms, infusing the packaging with a dynamic musical essence.
To complement the gift kit launch, Aesop is transforming its Shanghai stores with the addition of musical window displays, incorporating traditional Chinese instruments such as gongs and shengs made of metal and wood. Throughout next month, Aesop’s Shanghai and Shenzhen stores will host live music performances, creating a special immersive experience for local visitors.
Netizens’ reaction: The Australian cosmetics brand has surged in popularity in China over the past year. The brand’s hashtag has garnered 15 million views on Xiaohongshu, and its official account boasts over 62,000 followers on the platform. Whether it’s collaborations with local artists or campaigns for International Women’s Day, Chinese customers appreciate the label’s authenticity in terms of both product development and marketing.
Verdict: Aesop has sought to infuse art, culture, and literature into the details of its stores and products, creating retail spaces filled with humanism. Since opening its first mainland China store in November 2022, the brand has hosted numerous cultural and art-related events, including the Women’s Library project during International Women’s Day earlier this year.
In addition to creating localized marketing campaigns, supporting homegrown talents has proven to be another of Aesop’s strengths. This is not the first time the label has collaborated with Xu on designs. During last month’s Tmall Brand Day, Aesop hosted a livestream with the artist, discussing art and life.
A graduate of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Xu focuses on researching paper and using the material to make her creations. Her creative philosophy aligns with Aesop’s commitment to sustainability and slow living.
Since 2020, Aesop has annually launched gift kits exclusively for China’s e-commerce channels. With more collaborations with Chinese creatives under its belt, the clean beauty label is poised to further elevate its brand awareness in the country and strengthen its emotional connections with local communities.
* Janice Li and Wenzhuo Wu contributed to the article.
Has Hong Kong still got it? Dior, Louis Vuitton think so
Dior is the latest fashion house slated to present its men’s pre-collection in Hong Kong. While the venue and date have yet to be confirmed, the event will take place in early 2024.
Once hailed as Asia’s fashion and luxury retail shopping capital, Hong Kong has faced a series of major challenges in recent years as the city has struggled to rebuild its economy following years of Covid-19 lockdowns as well as socio-political unrest in 2019 and 2020.
Since the city’s and mainland China’s reopening at the beginning of this year through August, Hong Kong has welcomed 20.5 million tourists — 80 percent of them from the mainland, according to VOA News. These numbers have yet to return to 2018’s levels, which were nearly double this year’s, according to the same report.
And now, with the return of A-list luxury events and major brands to the city’s commercial districts, including Chanel’s two-story Causeway Bay retail space leased for an eye-watering $384,000 (HK$3 million) per month, as well as Dior, De Beers, and Bulgari’s latest store openings, brands and insiders are wondering if the city will see a retail and tourism renaissance after all?
LV and Pharrell’s bet on Hong Kong
With the announcement of its men’s pre-collection show in Hong Kong, Dior is following suit after fellow LVMH brand Louis Vuitton announced in October it would hold its first-ever menswear pre-fall show in Hong Kong. The Louis Vuitton show will take place outside Hong Kong cultural retail space K11 Victoria Dockside’s Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui district tomorrow.
Pietro Beccari, CEO of Louis Vuitton, spoke about the importance of Hong Kong as a regional retail and business hub for the brand: “I think Hong Kong, for everybody, is one of the most brilliant, prolific, successful cities in Asia.”
“This show is about celebrating a city that has been and will always be in the heart of the people as one of the most beautiful and most important in Asia,” Peccari told The South China Morning Post.
Louis Vuitton has partnered with the aforementioned cultural-retail development K11 Musea to host its show. In August, K11’s Tsim Sa Tsui-based shopping malls, K11 Musea and K11 Art Mall, reported sales had surpassed the pre-pandemic level by 20 percent.
Launching a new chapter
Businesses in Hong Kong, spanning fashion retailers, hospitality services, and financial institutions, are optimistic about a new chapter for the special administrative region given China and the local government’s recent encouragement.
On October 25, Hong Kong chief executive John Lee unveiled a set of initiatives designed to stimulate the economy, ranging from property tax cuts to a new scheme that will help build infrastructure for several emerging industries.
Earlier this year, the government of the region adjusted its forecast for the city’s economic growth to 3.2 percent from the initial forecast of 4 percent to 5 percent for 2023. Moreover, the Hong Kong government’s most recent data indicates that GDP in 3Q 2023 rose 4.1 percent year on year.
From retail to experiential city
Ultimately, the city’s identity as a shopping and tourism hub is changing, with an increased emphasis on unique and experiential offerings, as Jing Daily has reported in recent weeks.
“When I visit Hong Kong, I feel like I am on a different planet,” writes Chinese netizen Ison1y on Xiaohongshu. “Hong Kong is a vibrant and multicultural place, and when you are here, you enter a unique world.”
“When I visit Hong Kong, I feel like I am on a different planet. Hong Kong is a vibrant and multicultural place, and when you are here, you enter a unique world.”
However, not all netizens feel this way. Over recent years, Chinese tourists have complained about facing discrimination in the city. From being called “locusts” to feeling pressured to make pricy purchases, mainland Chinese visitors have spoken of unfair treatment during trips to the region.
“Their attitude is really bad,” writes Xiaohongshu user ZhengJenny, of sales and customer service in Hong Kong. The post she is commenting on is titled “Hong Kong is no longer a shopping paradise.”
Other netizens speak about the unaffordability of the city. “It’s no longer a shopping paradise for normal people who can only afford products under $700 (RMB 5,000),” writes user Momo, adding that better deals can be found via duty-free shopping in neighboring tourism hub Hainan or even on Taobao.
Among China’s millionaires, however, Hong Kong remains a top shopping destination, according to a recent survey of 2,000 affluent and high-net-worth individuals conducted by Agility Research and Strategy. The report highlighted that besides travel, luxury experiences including entertainment were also significant factors.
Ultimately, Hong Kong retailers and hospitality outlets will need to focus their efforts on wooing back Chinese tourists to reestablish its status as Asia’s shopping hub.
From offering free flights to the announcement of Louis Vuitton and Dior’s star-studded fashion shows, as well as the retail return of major luxury houses, the city is staging a major comeback. Only time will tell if Hong Kong’s renaissance has indeed arrived.
What luxury brands can learn from Zara’s new China livestream concept
When it comes to live commerce in China, Zara is setting the bar. With 12 cameras, 50 professionals, and a 9,000-square-meter set, the brand’s latest broadcast could easily be mistaken for a movie or music video backdrop at first glance.
On November 17, the Spanish fashion brand debuted a new livestream concept on Douyin, hosted by supermodel You Tianyi. Running for five hours, the livestream included catwalks, walkthroughs of the fitting room and makeup area, and “behind-the-scenes” views of the camera equipment and staff.
Rather than the typical, fast-paced Chinese livestream, Zara’s was far more calm and choreographed. The host took her time modeling products, showcasing the brand as stylish and sophisticated.
“The ‘show-style’ livestreaming reflects our constant efforts to level up our image and seek the best customer experience,” a spokesperson from Zara China’s communications team tells Jing Daily. “And this is the approach we have had with our first Douyin livestreams. With the experience of our first shows and our permanent aim of pushing ourselves to do everything with the highest levels of quality, we have launched our new Douyin livestream style.”
Although Zara did not release figures for the November 17 broadcast, e-commerce data from analysis platform Douchacha shows that the total number of viewers surpassed 1.2 million, a jump from the average 200,000 viewers. How is the Inditex label benefiting from its new livestreaming format, and what can luxury brands learn?
China’s changing livestream preferences
“The livestream itself, more than a showcase of fashion, was a tailored experience designed to resonate with the sophisticated tastes and growing luxury preferences of Chinese consumers,” says Sophie Coulon, managing director of digital consultancy VO2 Asia Pacific.
Indeed, consumer expectations have changed. Some Chinese shoppers have grown accustomed to, even weary of, loud anchors peddling cheap products. For example, the rise of quiet selling — a very slow, storytelling-focused style of livestreaming — and quiet luxury both signal a shift to more subtle forms of consumption.
“After watching Zara’s live broadcast, I feel like the livestreaming industry is about to change,” writes Xiaohongshu user UFOxijingyichuangkongjian (@UFO西境艺创空间), a photography studio in China. “The anchors were talking about products, matching [outfits], and fashion in a relaxed manner … The whole atmosphere was like an online meeting for brand fans, without the noise and discounts of other live broadcast rooms. The brand’s reputation is at its peak.”
Many netizens across Weibo were also impressed with the livestream, describing it as “high-end” and praising the lack of “3, 2, 1, click the link!” (“321, 上链接”), a phrase used to instill an urgency to buy. “In this broadcast room, Zara could sell a 500 RMB item for 1,000 RMB,” posts one Weibo user.
Despite the positive reactions, the gross merchandise value (GMV) for the livestream was reportedly lackluster. Douchacha data shows that sales ranged between 250,000 RMB ($35,054) and 500,000 yuan ($70,100), a lower conversion rate than previous livestreams.
Using livestreams to improve brand image
But Zara’s new format isn’t about immediate sales; it’s an investment in brand positioning. And elevating brand perception is crucial in a fast fashion landscape where domestic brands account for 70 percent of market share, according to Daxue Consulting, and where several global players have been forced to pull out due to profitability concerns.
Beyond fast fashion, Zara’s new concept could be appealing to luxury and premium brands that find the typical KOL-led livestreams not in alignment with their brand image.
“Luxury brands have the opportunity to use this platform to create compelling narratives that showcase their heritage, craftsmanship, and values,” says Coulon. “This approach elevates a livestream from a simple sales channel to an immersive storytelling medium, fostering a deeper connection with the audience.”
Taking this a step further, luxury brands could integrate interactive elements into their broadcasts, like live Q&A sessions with designers or virtual tours of ateliers, for a more holistic brand experience. “Such elements can enrich the viewer’s experience, making the livestream not just informative but also engaging and memorable,” she says.
But is it replicable?
However, not every brand will be able to replicate this behind-the-scenes livestream format given the high operating costs, a point brought up by several netizens.
“The reason why Zara is criticized is the high costs and unknown returns. In the context of a turbulent overall economic environment, where small brands seek development and large brands strive to survive, who dares spend such money on brand image?” writes Xiaohongshu user Lili (@立里).
But GMV isn’t the only metric that defines a successful livestream, notes Coulon. Engagement rate, brand sentiment post-event, the quality of customer interactions, and the long-term impact on brand perception are all things to consider.
“The goal should be to create a memorable brand experience that resonates with the audience, fostering loyalty and elevating the brand’s status in the consumer’s mind,” she says.
While Zara is keeping mum on its exact GMV numbers, the brand is pleased with its progress and intends to move forward in this direction.
“We are very happy to see that our unique and innovative livestream style is very welcomed by our customers,” a Zara China spokesperson tells Jing Daily. “In the near term, we are going to keep this Zara show-style livestreaming on a weekly basis and try to offer the best image and the best fashion offer. Moving forward, we will constantly evolve based on our customer feedback.”
Patrick Getreide on auctioning his $300 million watch collection in Hong Kong
When French businessman Patrick Getreide, chose to auction his carefully compiled one-of-a-kind (OAK) watch collection, valued between $100 million and $300 million, he chose not Geneva, or New York, but Hong Kong for the sale.
Asia has built a rich culture of collectors with its economic dynamism and substantial financial resources. For Getreide, Hong Kong was an obvious choice to connect with these collectors.
“It is the gateway to reach collectors from not just Hong Kong, but also Japan, Singapore and China,” he told Jing Daily ahead of the auction.
Historically, Geneva and New York have reigned as the top destinations for the most popular and record-breaking watch auctions, including Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona, which sold for about $17.8 million, and the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime (6300A) that sold for approx $31 million in New York and Geneva, respectively.
But now, the Asia-Pacific is taking over as the top spot in the watch auction market. With the completion of its recently concluded fall sale of important watches along with the sale of the first trance of the OAK collection on November 26, Christie’s Asia Watches department has achieved its highest ever annual sales volume of $88 million, more than double its pre-pandemic level.
In the first half of 2023, the Asia-Pacific alone contributed close to 50% of Christie’s global watches sales, according to Alexandre Bigler, Senior Vice President and Head of Watches, Christie’s Asia-Pacific.
Sales led by independent brands
Compiled over a period of nearly 40 years, Patrick Getreide’s OAK collection comprises more than 500 timepieces, including museum-quality rare watches from every prestigious watch brand an horology enthusiast can think of.
The first part of the auction saw 139 go under the hammer in Hong Kong, achieving a total of $6,677,662 (HKD 51,810,570).
Interestingly, watches from much younger independent brands stole the show in this auction, unlike most other popular auctions where predictable names such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet resonate the most with collectors.
Evolution of watch collectors
The initial tranche of the collection included some rare timepieces from Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin, but the three best-performing watches in the auction were from Akrivia, an independent brand started by a watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi in 2012, and Voutilainen, another independent brand started by a Finnish watchmaker in 2002.
The highest price realised was by an Akrivia stainless steel wrist watch from 2022, at $679,223 (HK$5.3 million). The third highest hammer price of $452,815 (HK$3.5 million), was achieved by a Voutilainen watch, crossing its high-estimate of $410,717 (HK$3.2 million).
What makes these independent brands desirable to watch collectors?
“Very few Akrivia watches are on the market,” Bigler told Jing Daily, adding that the auction represented the only opportunity for collectors to acquire exceptional pieces signed by the young prodigy, who is only 36 years old, and whose confidential annual production makes it virtually impossible to buy his pieces.
“Even more, these are unique pieces. They are like a Rothko painting in the art world,” he says.
For years, Getreide stored his collection in Singapore in a private mini museum. It was only in 2021 that he decided to unveil 160 carefully selected timepieces from his large collection in a first ever display of a private watch collection by a single owner at the London Design Museum. He was also deemed as “the third most important private collector of watches ever” by Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe.
Earlier this year, Getreide announced a staggered auction of his entire collection as he believed that now was the right time to part with some of his prized possessions seeing that the watch market had normalized after the pandemic induced slowdown.
“For more than three decades, the world of watchmaking was relatively confidential, attracting mainly enthusiasts like myself, forming a small, dedicated community,” he says. “But in the past decade the watch collector’s market has opened up and become more democratized.”
Will Gertirde continue to collect watches after the sale of the entire OAK lot?
“I’m convinced that you don’t decide to stop a passion,” he says. “Even if the watches I buy are not part of the OAK collection, I will continue to acquire them.”