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Clone X Air Force 1: Is RTFKT And Nike’s Latest Murakami Collab Worth The Hype?

Nike and RTFKT are taking their collaborative foray into the metaverse to new heights. The duo is in the midst of elevating its partnership through its latest high-profile global campaign — which sees the launch of its new Air Force 1 drop in collaboration with Japanese contemporary art icon Takashi Murakami. Each limited edition sneaker is inspired by the 10 DNA types found in RTFKT’s Clone X anime-inspired avatar project, including Takashi Murakami’s “Drip” and “DNA” Air Force 1s. Even basketball icon LeBron James is a fan, and was spotted wearing a pair earlier this week.

In December 2021, sportswear behemoth Nike acquired digital fashion business RTFKT for an undisclosed sum, after recognizing the Web3 brand’s potential in the non-fungible token (NFT) market. Over the two years under Nike’s belt, the collective has gone on to dip its toes into the world of football and sneakerheads, amassing over 450,000 followers on Instagram and 396,000 on Twitter, and become one of the most recognized Web3 communities in the world. 

Each Air Force design is based on one of the Clone X avatar’s traits. Photo: @RTFKT Twitter

“It’s really difficult for a big company like Nike to take a risk and travel outside of the existing healthy business models that they have,” Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of RTFKT told Jing Daily earlier this year. “The fact that they acquired us really shows that, regardless of the ups and downs of the NFT market, it’s something that is here to stay. It’s good for the industry to see a big label committing to guiding their business towards these new adaptations.”

The three-part collective unveiled the physical sneaker designs via a Geisai-style art fair in Tokyo on April 30. Since the public reveal, RTFKT’s fans have been wildly sharing and reacting to the models, including the image of the NBA legend James sporting an exclusive pair in LA.

But when we strip away the social buzz behind the tie-up, is RTFKT and Nike’s ambitious metaverse roadmap really worth the hype? 

Recommended ReadingNike x RTFKT Launch Nike Cryptokick NFT SneakersBy Bethanie Ryder

Much-hyped beginnings

RTFKT was on a steady growth trajectory before its acquisition by Nike. But the accretion propelled the digital footwear studio into mainstream consciousness, subsequently receiving worldwide acclaim for being one of the first metaverse-native brands. 

However, the past two years have seen competition intensify, both for Nike and RTFKT. Adidas and Puma, two of Nike’s leading competitors, have jointly bumped up their Web3 community efforts in a bid to take Nike’s crown. 

Adidas recently revamped its Web3 loyalty program “ALTS by Adidas” and adopted Bored Ape #8774 (who goes by the name of Indigo Herz and was bought by the brand for 46ETH) as its Web3 ambassador and mouthpiece in 2021, while Puma continues to deepen its relationship with popular metaverse platform 10KTF. 

This year, the stakes are becoming increasingly high for Nike and RTFKT to maintain their leading position.  

For RTFKT and Nike’s latest tie-up, it was a matter of going big or going home following a controversial first run last year. In October, the partnership came under fire for failing to exceed its community’s expectations and deliver on its promises. 

The world’s first ‘smart sneaker’ a ‘huge mistake’? 

The “Cryptokicks” IRL project was hailed as the first-of-its-kind development and saw the duo bring to life the first “smart sneaker,” which combined “decades of Nike Sneaker innovation with RTFKT’s vision to merge the digital and physical worlds,” according to RTFKT’s website. 

Consisting of four colourways based on the famed Nike Dunk silhouette, the genesis sneaker drop was limited to 19,000 pairs and included novel features such as auto-lacing and chargeable power decks. It also marked the long-awaited entry of Nike and RTFKT in digital footwear. 

The drop, however, was controversial. This was predominantly fueled by the news that the collection would only be distributed across the US, eliminating a vast proportion of the community who had invested money into RTFKT’s ecosystem from having access. 

As a result, the floor price of the drop fell from 7.3 ETH (approximately $13,496 at the time of writing) on December 5 to 5.9 ETH (approximately $11,114) on December 6.

RTFKT was vocal about its blunders, with co-founder Steven Vasilev AKA Zaptio stating, “I think we made a huge mistake, and we take full ownership of that,” during an open Twitter session.  

RTFKT teamed up with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to create his own Clone X avatar, alongside specially designed Air Force models “Drip” and “DNA”. Photo: RTFKT

More drops, greater demand?

Fast forward to this year – has the platform learned from its past mistakes? In March, Nike and RTFKT unveiled the next major development in its roadmap via the latter’s official Twitter account — it was gearing up to launch its physical Clone X Air Force 1 sneakers. The announcement received over 163,000 views on the app and made headlines across major Web3 media outlets, fashion publications, and beyond. 

If the Tweet’s internet wildfire spread wasn’t enough, as part of the new collection, the tie-up also released a series of hyperrealistic, 3D billboards and augmented reality-powered posters across Tokyo late last month. 

The dynamic advertisements broke Nike’s record on Instagram (according to the brand), and was viewed over 1.8 million times on Twitter. 

From April 24 to May 8 (this was later extended to May 10), in a similar process to its initial Cryptokicks campaign, RTFKT gave all enthusiasts a time window in which all NFT holders could exchange their token for the limited made-to-order physical Air Force designs— more commonly referred to as a “forging event.”

What it takes to remain on top

There’s no denying that the collaboration has gone big with its ambitions. But after a disappointing first run, it can longer afford to hide behind the smoke and mirrors of striking billboards and high-profile collaborations. With speculation among its community at an all time high and the pressure on to deliver, consumers will be taking note on whether the partnership learned from its previous mistakes and improved. 

Overall, RTFKT and Nike’s roadmap has the potential to remain the biggest coalition that the digital fashion industry has ever seen. But competition is tight, with Puma and Adidas both forging their own ecosystems and learning and adapting from Nike and RTFKT’s past hurdles. After all, with great exposure comes great pressure to achieve more. 

Whether the new campaign regains the trust of its community is to be seen. But a successful run could kickstart the duo’s redemption arc, and hail a very prosperous future ahead for sneakers and streetwear in Web3.

Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu Offers Cultural Outlook For 8th Anniversary Exhibition

In the past decade, Chengdu has emerged as a luxury capital and one of the most important transportation, economic, and cultural hubs in southwestern China. Not only does the city attract top brands and businesses, but the preservation of its historical and cultural landmarks has made it a must-see destination for domestic and global visitors alike.

In October 2022, Sanlian Life Media released the “Humanistic City Spectrum Scheme” to evaluate 19 cities across the country based on their humanistic characteristics — and Chengdu was rated number one. Additionally, Chengdu ranked fourth after Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou in Barclays’ city store presence analysis for luxury companies, signaling its business potential.

The rapid development of Chengdu in recent years is inseparable from the evolution and renewal of urban public space. Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu is one of the most outstanding projects shaping the city’s landscape, connecting consumers, local culture, brands and retailers. 

In 2022, Louis Vuitton officially opened in Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu its third Louis Vuitton Maison in mainland China, along with the house’s first restaurant in China – The Hall. Balenciaga’s global flagship store, Cartier Maison, and The World of Ralph Lauren (including China’s first Double RL boutique and the first Ralph’s Bar in Asia) were also unveiled there. This year, Alexander McQueen, Baccarat, Burberry, and Moynat launched their flagship boutiques in the shopping mall, while others including ARC’TERYX and STONE ISLAND are set to make their debut soon.

April 2023 marked the eighth anniversary of Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu. To celebrate this milestone, the property unveiled a lifestyle and art exhibition named “All Around” at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu’s Temple Plaza from April 28 to May 17. Below is a closer look at the exhibition and how the shopping complex is putting Chengdu on the map.

Injecting brand value into architectural designs

Mounting public art at commercial properties is nothing new in China. However, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu does not simply display large-scale sculptures; it also invites architects, artists and brands to co-curate exhibitions. The renowned architectural design firm “Roarc Renew” has designed an exclusive hall for this celebration. 

Drawing inspiration from the Chinese character “八,” “入” and “人” (meaning eight, entrance, and mankind, respectively, in English), which are all composed of a left-falling stroke and a right-falling stroke, the pop-up hall showcases Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li’s dedication to traditional Chinese culture. 

The exclusive hall designed by architectural design firm Roarc Renew draws inspiration from the Chinese characters. Photo: Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu

Consisting of eight conceptual spaces, the hall presents the city of Chengdu from  various perspectives. The interactive curatorial approach also encourages guests to spontaneously discover the objects and to be part of the public art program. 

Following the exhibition, the carbonized bamboo used for the hall can be disassembled and turned into bamboo stools, a characteristic of Chengdu. A batch of bamboo stools will then be placed in public spaces at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu for visitors to rest, while others will be donated to Swire Properties’ Sichuan Community Centre for local villagers. Repurposing the architecture in this way aligns with the sustainability commitments of this luxury shopping complex.

Partnering with artists and brands to create immersive visits

The eight spaces present different concepts inspired by Chengdu’s local culture, such as its nightlife and laidback lifestyle

As Molly Wu, general manager of Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu, shared, “Through our collaborations with architects, artists and brands, we present the unique rhythm, culture, art and creativity of urban life in Chengdu, and celebrate the inclusivity and diversity of the city.”

For instance, the “Night of Chengdu” space draws inspiration from the glowing windows of households at night and presents contemporary poet Ma Lingli’s work named “Poetry Written by Time.” Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu also partnered with Byredo to present a special edition “Scent of Night” space, narrating the collective memory of the city through its night atmosphere. 

Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu partnered with Byredo to present a special edition “Scent of Night.” Photo: Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu

Artist Zhang Honglei presents his installation “Between Sunrise and Sunset” in the “Basking in the Sun” area to demonstrate local residents’ obsession with the sun and leisure. For this space, ARC’TERYX created a ReBIRD™️ Green Folding Chair, which is part of the brand’s ReBIRD™️ project to recycle and reuse leftover fabric, to represent sustainable outdoor lifestyles.

ARC’TERYX created a ReBIRD™️ Green Folding Chair, which is presented in the “Basking in the Sun” area. Photo: Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu

Evolving with Chengdu’s dynamic city cultures

Since its opening in 2014, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu has created a number of forward-looking, experimental and artistic boutiques and programs with international brands, constantly breaking the boundaries of retail. 

Wu owes these results to the company’s localization strategy, explaining that “In the past eight years, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu has taken root in Chengdu and has developed together with Chengdu. The lifestyles and scenes provided by Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu as urban public space is to restore the essence and tradition of Chengdu urban life from the emotional and cultural level and to connect residents with others, the world, and the future.”

That said, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu is more than a luxury shopping destination; it is a public arena that accommodates various lifestyles and offers dynamic cultural experiences to residents.

Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu’s VIP parking area called “Hāmon (Ripple)” is designed by Tokyo’s renowned architecture firm Puddle. Photo: Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu

In 2022, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu unveiled a large-scale public art installation called “Land of Eternity” in Temple Plaza and launched an autumn-themed campaign named “Collective Greatness.” That year, the Asian touring exhibition “Bags: Inside Out,” —– presented by Swire Properties and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) —– also staged the final leg of its tour at the mall.

Recommended ReadingTraversing Chengdu, China’s New Luxury CapitalBy Wenzhuo Wu

With strong Chinese cultural roots and a global vision, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu has set the standard for global high-end real estate developers. Its cultural vision has not only lured local shoppers from across China but also contributed to Chengdu’s global fame, helping it establish itself as a world-renowned cultural tourism destination.

Lululemon China Canada

Lululemon Celebrates 10 Years, 100 Stores In China As Consumers Turn Towards Wellness

What Happened: Lululemon is celebrating its 10th year in Mainland China, as well as opening a staggering 100 stores in the country. Its journey has been lucrative. On May 9, the Canadian athleisure brand launched its “Worn By Us” campaign to commemorate its community of ambassadors in China and around the world. Featuring athletes like British boxer Michele Aboro, Shanghai-based triathlete Peter Wolkowicz and F1 driver Zhou Guanyu — as well as celebrities such as American singer Amber Liu, Hong Kong actress Celina Jade, and mainland actress Wang Zixuan — the campaign highlights a diverse host of faces and their respective stories. 

F1 driver Zhou Guanyu stars in Lululemon’s “Worn By Us” campaign. Photo: Lululemon

The Jing Take: Lululemon has been one of the rare brands to see success in spite of China’s pandemic lockdowns over recent years. The yoga brand posted record numbers for the fiscal year 2022, with net revenue at $8.1 billion — an increase of more than 30 percent from 2021. Its revenue in mainland China alone soared nearly 70 percent year on year

This was largely thanks to China’s collective turn towards wellness and the brand’s keen localization strategy and strong community building. For instance, the company held a month-long World Mental Health Day campaign, which included in-person activities, and introduced a digital well-being space on WeChat.

The campaign was hailed as a success among the brand’s largely millennial and Gen Z clientele in China, as it spoke to the generations’ sense of exhaustion — something that many younger consumers have discussed on social media against the backdrop of China’s “996” work culture. This burnout has given way to new movements such as “lying flat,” and “let it rot,” as well as slowed-down lifestyles such as greater self-care and the “simplified life.”

“We have a solid foundation in the region across our brick-and-mortar and digital channels and are supported by exceptional talent on which we continue to build,” Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said on the Q4 2022 earnings call earlier this year. “It’s clear our growth strategies are on track, and we remain early in our journey across our international markets.”

American singer Amber Liu in Lululemon’s “Worn By Us” campaign. Photo: Lululemon

While Lululemon’s growth in China appears robust, analysts are also warning of potential boycotts of Canadian brands in China given the recent diplomatic row between the two nations. On May 8, Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei over allegations of being involved in an attempt to intimidate a Canadian politician, which China reciprocated by declaring Canadian diplomat Jennifer Lynn Lalonde “persona non grata” the following day. 

Deteriorating relations between the two countries could spell trouble ahead for Canadian brands such as Lululemon, Canada Goose and others that have expanded rapidly into the Chinese market over recent years. 

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.

clot fragment nike

Clot x Fragment Design x Nike, Shang Xia Beauty, And Strawberry Music Festival: China Collabs Of The Week

The biggest drop on China’s sneaker scene this week has to be Edison Chen’s Clot teaming up with Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment and Nike on a new Dunk Low. It was first teased to fans in late February, so the anticipation has simmered for a while, and has all the ingredients for high resale market price premiums.

We also delve into Shang Xia’s crossover into beauty with leading C-beauty brand Florasis, and the brand collaboration opportunities presented by Shanghai’s Strawberry Music Festival.

For our verdict, check out the below and subscribe here to our Collabs & Drops newsletter to receive these updates straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

Clot x Fragment Design x Nike 

Edison Chen and Hiroshi Fujiwara have joined forces once more, launching a Nike Dunk Low. Photo: Clot

Edison Chen and Hiroshi Fujiwara have joined forces once more, launching a Nike Dunk Low. Photo: Clot

Date: May 19

Verdict: The collaboration between Edison Chen, Hiroshi Fujiwara and the Swoosh is another addition to Clot’s 20th anniversary celebrations. Made available to raffle winners, the white/black colorway made available on May 1 is on StockX with a 261 percent price premium – expect similar things from this next drop. Set with an all-white silk upper patterned with Clot’s Silk Royale, the Nike Dunk Low was inspired by Fujiwara’s love of pandas. 

Even though the hashtag #ClotxFragmentDesignxNike has under 100 posts on Instagram, it has 357,000 reads on Weibo to date. Although, like with any sneaker drop, the opinions online are varied, many love the design and are excited for the release.

Florasis x Shang Xia

florasis shang xia

Cult beauty brand Florasis has collaborated with Paris-based brand Shang Xia. Photo: Florasis Weibo

Date: May 5

Verdict: Using collaboration to venture into new product categories, Chinese Paris-based label Shang Xia has worked with Florasis on a jade gift box and accompanying products. For those who cannot afford the brand, it’s an opportunity to still enjoy it at a more accessible price. Though, this joint series also emphasizes the beauty brand’s commitment to representing Chinese culture, as Shang Xia is a brand that does just that. 

Seeing as, on Weibo, Florasis has 342,000 followers, and Shang Xia has 150,000, so the beauty brand will still be lending Shang Xia reach with hope of expanding the consumer base with this product launch. So far, there’s been no dedicated hashtag, so online conversation is at a minimum.

Shanghai Strawberry Music Festival x Biotherm

shanghai strawberry music festival

Shanghai’s Strawberry Music Festival is often used as a collaboration platform for brands. Photo: Biotherm

Date: April 30 to May 2

Verdict: Organized by China’s biggest independent record label Modern Sky, Strawberry Music Festival in Shanghai is a great opportunity for brands to connect with the public in person — for example, Loewe hosted a castle installation. The festival saw over 50 different music artists and bands perform. Capitalizing on the occasion, Biotherm produced merchandise moisturizers for the event. 

Biotherm L’Oreal’s owner has had its sights on the Chinese market for a while. But sales dipped in China in the beginning of this year, and the company says it’s yet to benefit from China’s reopening after years of Covid 19-induced restrictions. Strawberry Music Festival is an efficient way to connect with consumers in a new and exciting way, while demonstrating support of the Chinese music industry.

Ordre Group metaverse luxury

From Louis Vuitton to Bottega Veneta, Ordre Group Is Powering Luxury Latest Tech Moves

The Ordre Group has been quietly powering the fashion metaverse since before the word even appeared in the dictionary. Despite remaining under the average consumer’s radar, the leading technology firm has guided a number of luxury brands and retailers (including Louis Vuitton, Loewe, The Row, and Bottega Veneta) towards innovation. 

Last month, the group teamed up with LVMH-owned fashion house Patou to launch a new digital verification technology for its products. 

The solution, “Authentique Verify,” allows Patou to connect each of its high-end products to a unique digital fingerprint, which verifies the asset as an authentic piece. Owners are also able to access a unique digital ID when they purchase a product, which includes information on its warranty and provenance, as well as Patou’s sustainability pledge.

Authentique Verify creates unique digital fingerprints of physical luxury products using a smartphone. Photo: Patou

The partnership is part of The Ordre Group’s strategy to extend its offerings and deepen its investment in Web3. 

“While the initial vision was to develop simple technology whereby you could point a phone at a product and authenticate it, it has accelerated due to the development of Web3, as well using digital identities in the form of NFTs to validate and verify products,” the startup’s founder Simon Lock tells Jing Daily. “This is where we’re finding the greatest amount of interest from luxury brands.”

Founded in 2014, the company was built on the ambition to redefine the relationship between retailers and consumers. Since its establishment, The Ordre Group has developed and rolled out programs including its Orb360 — an interactive imagery feature implemented by the likes of Marc Jacobs and Thom Browne — and Ordre Meta, a white-label B2B digital metaverse designed to be utilized by luxury fashion houses.

Ordre Meta is a custom, standalone B2B virtual metaverse for luxury design houses, launched in 2020. Photo: The Ordre Group

But recent speculation surrounding Web3 tech, and its native jargon, has proved a challenge to luxury fashion’s entry into the metaverse. While Lock explains that brands are on a mission to create digital identities that provide information on transparency, sustainability, and product details, the technology powering them has developed a dicey reputation. 

“We don’t actually talk about the digital identities that we create for our Authentique verification NFTs, because there’s quite a bit of paranoia around NFTs at the moment, driven by speculation around fashion collectibles and digital wearables, which haven’t really taken off,” Lock says. “While it is a blockchain application, we don’t talk about it as such, and consumers don’t want to know about it. No one cares what the technology is built on. All they want to know is that they have the digital ID on their phones.”

Paranoia surrounding NFT applications has forced many companies to rethink their strategies. But this doesn’t mean many aren’t investing in their use-cases — despite opting to play down the technical terminology.

Luxury blockchain solution Aura Blockchain Consortium has adopted a similar approach. Though the platform has been vocal about its backing of Web3, a quick scroll through its website shows a calculated avoidance of terms such as “metaverse” and “NFTs.”

The advantages of the tech, however, can’t be ignored. “The benefits of a digital ID that arrives as a Web3 NFT, rather than just a link to a Web2 mini-site, is that it provides unique individual ownership through a wallet, and it can be used by a brand to maintain an ongoing relationship with the owner,” Lock says.

It’s also an improvement on Web2’s existing technological solutions. “These old-school Web2 technologies can be a bit clunky. For example, a number of luxury brands’ products have RFID chips embedded in them but, when you scan them in the UK, they don’t work,” Lock adds. “They only work in Europe. One of the reasons is because there are different consumer data protection laws. One of the beauties of Web3 is that it is global, and the technology is seamless.”

As for Authentique, the new service will also help tackle the decades-long implications of counterfeiting in luxury. Once a brand establishes a digital ID for its physical products, they’re ultimately verified for the rest of their life, delivering assurance to their owner. Lock believes that this will encourage more brands to launch their own secondary sales models. 

“What brands want to do now is not only create digitized entities, but also create the resale platforms themselves,” he says. “Consumers can take their physical products and digital IDs, put them into their dedicated app, and push the ‘resell’ button. Completing the process entirely through the certified platform means it’s guaranteed that they’re buying a real product.”

Despite its low-key presence, The Ordre Group is a key contributor to the luxury fashion industry’s adoption of the metaverse and accelerating innovation. But out of the 200 luxury brands the company fosters, how many are looking to deploy the new Authentique feature following Patou’s adoption?

“We’re in talks with a number of brands,” Lock outlines, “but we have a big Authentique project with a major luxury label that will be announced around September.”

Europe China tourism numbers recovery

Chinese Tourists’ Spending In Europe Rises, But Visitor Numbers Remain Weak

What Happened: A few months after China fully opened international borders in January, it’s clear that the rebound of Chinese tourism to Europe will be different from pre-pandemic patterns.

Visitor numbers have not bounced back. According to travel data company ForwardKeys, ticket prices for China-to-Europe trips are 80 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, while the number of passengers during the May Day holiday period decreased by 64 percent from 2019. 

Traveling to Europe has become far more expensive for Chinese consumers, and demand is still below pre-pandemic levels. However, those who do make these long distance trips are spending more than before; data from value-added tax refund provider Planet, cited by Credit Suisse, also shows that the average transaction value for each Chinese tourist in Europe in March was 28 percent higher than in 2019. 

The average transaction value for each Chinese tourist in Europe in March 2023 was 28 percent higher than the same period in 2019. Photo: Shutterstock

The Jing Take: Data from several Chinese travel companies show that the return of Chinese overseas tourism occurred closer to home first, with Asian destinations like Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Singapore emerging as early favorites. Indications are that wealthier Chinese travelers are among the first to venture back to Europe.   

It seems that Chinese shoppers are also looking to buy luxury closer to home rather than fly out to London, Paris or Milan to shop for their favorite European brands as they did before the pandemic. Singapore, for example, saw the total transaction value of Chinese tourist spending on the Alipay app almost double in Q1 2023 versus Q3 2022, with the average visitor spending 40 percent more than the previous quarter.

With the number of flights between China and Europe still limited, and many European hotspots still lacking the staff or infrastructure for the return of mass Chinese tourism to 2019 levels, there are still several hurdles to cross before we see a full recovery. Europe will likely have to wait until the end of 2023 or 2024 to see the return of large-scale Chinese tourism.

Credit Suisse notes that luxury goods businesses such as Cartier’s parent company Richemont, Hermès, and LVMH are most likely to benefit from wealthy Chinese shoppers, despite weak travel demand. Recent stock market valuations support this view. 

However, the shift in focus towards ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) is significant. And luxury brands were some of the first to catch up. With the likes of Chanel, LV and Dior opening appointment-only VIP private boutiques in key Chinese cities last year and earlier, and LVMH underlining its commitment to enhancing its service and relationship with VIPs, it seems like HNWIs and UHNWI are emerging as the saviors of the industry, especially if the number of entry-level luxury consumers dwindle.

In light of America’s reported waning appetite for luxury, high-end brands will have to be even more adaptive to China’s growing HNW and UHNW consumers if they want to expand.   

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.

Balenciaga 520

Balenciaga’s 520 Campaign Pulls At Gen Z’s Heartstrings With A Mix Of Style, Self-Expression And Sustainability

Fresh from a period of introspection, Balenciaga is ready to woo Chinese consumers with a compassionate campaign for 520 Day on May 20. The Kering-owned luxury brand is proving to be an innovative player in the Chinese festival, also known as Cyber Valentine’s Day, which has been gaining momentum in recent years. 

During the pandemic lockdowns of 2022, the house delighted couch-bound fans with its 5:20 Video Game Hall, branded memes and profile photos. 

It’s continuing its commitment to 520 Day this year with a “I Love” pattern, a nature-inspired ad campaign shot by Andrea Artemisio, and a new mini-game on its official WeChat account.

“520” originated from an internet slang term of endearment, as the pronunciation of the numbers sounds like “I love you” in Mandarin. In China’s unique cyber-culture, the term morphed into an online shop-fest — one of four love-themed marketing bonanzas that occur throughout the year, alongside Valentine’s Day, White Valentine’s Day and the Qixi Festival.

The event has become an emotion-charged opportunity for luxury brands to target digitally native Gen Z. Plus, it’s a useful warm-up event and testing ground for’s mega 618 shopping festival in June. Its, albeit tenuous, link to Chinese culture is also touted as a guochao-approved localization tactic, differentiating the festival from Western Valentine’s Day on February 14.

Introducing the ‘I Love’ Balenciaga 520 Series

Balenciaga’s 520 campaign launched on April 25, almost a month ahead of the May celebration. Splashed across a range of 520-exclusive T-shirts, hoodies, pierced caps and socks, Balenciaga has created a graphic consisting of the letter ‘I’ and a red heart shape, blurred as if swinging in vertical motion.

The house makes the sentiment of love deliberately vague and invites buyers to personalize their garment with the included garment marker. Photo: Balenciaga

Denoting “I Love,” the design is deliberately vague to enable consumers to participate in the design process. A garment marker is included with each purchase so consumers can personalize their garment with the object/s of their affection. The concept plays to Gen Z’s penchant for self-expression and Balenciaga’s edgy, playful style. Cue a storm of user-generated social media content as fans share their personally meaningful luxury creations.   

The 520 series also introduces new styles of accessories, including Triple S Mule sneakers in limited-edition colorways; extra-small Le Cagole and Bistro bags with black or fluorescent-pink bows; and silver and gold padlock necklaces.

A new take on the iconic chunky sneaker for Spring/Summer, Triple S Mules come in limited-edition colorways for 520, with hints of pink and red. Photo: Balenciaga

A change of scenery and a new direction

Balenciaga’s 520 products exude the effortlessly cool street vibe for which the luxury brand is loved in China, while also reflecting the house’s current shift to a more authentic aesthetic — apparent in the campaign shot by Italian photographer Andrea Artemisio.

Known for his melding of minimalism and the hyperreal, Artemisio’s images feature models relaxing in a natural environment, wearing products from the series along with new outerwear concepts. Grassy knolls and tree branches create a simple scene. Birdsong trills in the video background.

It’s a bucolic departure from buzzy marketing tactics of the past. Balenciaga is reaching out with a broader meaning of love that embraces inclusivity and upholds the house’s vision and commitment to the future of our world.

Andrea Artemisio’s images feature models chilling in a bucolic setting, wearing products from the 520 series along with new outerwear concepts. Photo: Balenciaga

Fashion-forward virtual farmers in the 520 mini-game

Gaming is increasingly being used by fashion brands to add a fun and immersive element to the experience of online shopping. Balenciaga flirted with this space for 520 Day last year, creating arcade-style mini-games that resonated with Chinese millennials who grew up playing Super Mario, helping expand the brand’s online communities. 

This year’s game, playable on Balenciaga’s official WeChat account, allows users to choose a farmer avatar — dressed in products from the 520 series, of course — who is tasked with growing virtual crops using regenerative agricultural techniques. Each step’s importance to the ecosystem is explained along the way and users are incentivized with unique stickers and cards to collect. 

Balenciaga-clothed “farmers” are tasked with growing crops using regenerative agricultural techniques to earn virtual stickers and cards on the 520 mini-game. Photo: Balenciaga

The choice of a farming game goes beyond appealing to Chinese youth’s concerns about protecting the planet. Balenciaga itself has committed to becoming environmentally sustainable in line with parent company Kering’s Standards for Raw Materials and Manufacturing Processes by 2025. The game helps draw awareness to projects supported by the Regenerative Fund for Nature, set up by Kering and Conservation International in 2021, with the aim of transforming one million hectares of crop fields and rangelands into regenerative agricultural spaces.

What does it take to win over young Chinese consumers — in love, or otherwise?

The annual 520 Day can be a lucrative marketing opportunity for luxury brands, but they must approach their campaigns with creativity and authenticity to win over young Chinese consumers — in love, or otherwise — and combat shopping festival fatigue. The concept of love for many extends beyond traditional relationships to embrace personal development, self-care and societal change.

By keeping ‘I Love ___’ open-ended, Balenciaga appeals to consumers’ desire for free expression and younger generations’ preference for advocacy. Linking the campaign to love for the planet aligns the brand’s values with those of its target market and, hopefully, will drive meaningful change.

At Paris Fashion Week in March this year, Balenciaga’s Creative Director Demna announced that he is toning down the showmanship of fashion and returning to the art of creating clothes. This approach is apparent in the maison’s Winter 23 collection, and indeed the current China-exclusive 520 series. Let’s see if China falls in love with this new direction.

Who Are The 8 Fastest Rising Beauty KOLs On Xiaohongshu?

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Before purchasing a new beauty brand or product, 28-year-old Susan Chen, manager at a preschool in Hangzhou, researches the potential purchase on the lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu to check users’ reviews. “It has become a habit. When many people share positive experiences, I feel reassured,” she says. “I love scrolling through the Xiaohongshu Explore page. I can discover many new items and brands. I also follow a few KOLs that genuinely share beauty tips and product recommendations.”

Founded in 2013, the community-review-based lifestyle platform has become a search engine for its 200 million monthly active users. This is particularly true when it comes to beauty. According to the site, 87 percent of Xiaohongshu’s beauty users use it as their primary channel to learn about new beauty brands and products.

Xiaohongshu users share their beauty product recommendations under the “noble lady skincare” tag. Photo: Xiaohongshu

The Instagram-like sharing platform boasts over 43 million content creators. Netizens often use the app as a source of inspiration. While mega-influencers are renowned for their large base of followers, its micro and nano-influencers who specialize in specific categories who are the most favored by Xiaohongshu users wishing to learn more about a particular subject. 

In light of this, Jing Daily presents the eight fastest-rising beauty influencers who can provide a gateway for beauty brands to reach their desired target consumers. The influencers were determined by follower growth according to data provided by Launchmetrics covering the period from October 14, 2022 to April 14, 2023.

Cheng Shian @程十安an

Followers: 8.4 Million

Average MIV: $35,433 (244,824 RMB) 


Born in 1995, Cheng Shian began her beauty blogger career in 2018, tackling women’s makeup application issues. Image: Cheng Shian

Born in 1995, Cheng Shian began her beauty blogger career in 2018, tackling women’s makeup application issues. Her videos, which range from five to eight minutes long, give detailed explanations of how to apply cosmetics efficiently. Additionally, in the comment section, she patiently replies to the questions raised by users. Her step-by-step tutorials quickly grabbed the attention of beauty users. In February 2020, Cheng attracted 300 million followers in one month.

On the occasion of 2021’s Singles’ Day Shopping Festival, Cheng officially joined Taobao Double 11’s livestream. In the first hour, the beauty KOL’s sales reached over $507,000 (3.5 million RMB), and her viewership reached 1 million. Niche brands like Carfornian-based Kimtrue, Fabloox, and London-based Zelens have leveraged the influencer to gain awareness in China.

Ma Baoer @马宝儿

Followers: 2.7 Million

Average MIV: $30,931 (213,720 RMB) 

Ma Baoer is renowned and beloved for her immersive-style 沉浸式 videos, which stands for ASMR. Image: Ma Baoer

Beauty influencer Ma Baoer is mostly silent in her videos. The sounds that are present are her tapping on skincare bottles with her nails or knocking, squeezing, rubbing, smearing, scratching, or running water throughout the entire process. In fact, Ma is renowned and beloved for her immersive autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos, whose sounds elicit tingling sensations in listeners. The trend took over the Chinese web in 2020.

Under the hashtag #immersiveskincareroutine#, Ma Baoer is the content maker with the highest likes. Netizens find her videos not only helpful but also relaxing. International luxury brands like La Mer, Estée Lauder, and domestic brand Perfect Diary often make appearances in her videos.

Zhouzhou KOI @粥粥KOI

Followers: 2 Million

Average MIV: $22,816 (157,647 RMB)

Zhouzhou KOI is an aficionado with a background in science that shares his professional knowledge of cosmetics ingredients and how they affect different skin types. Image: Zhouzhou KOI

Lipstick king Austin Li is not a singular case in China. Many male beauty KOLs are emerging on Xiaohongshu, some surpassing established female bloggers’ influence. Their rise coincides with Chinese beauty shoppers’ desire to know more about the ingredients in skincare products. 

Zhouzhou KOI is a cheng fen dang 成分党 influencer: He doesn’t apply makeup to his face, but is an aficionado with a background in science who shares his professional knowledge of cosmetics ingredients and how they affect different skin types. The objective approach has made the account a trusted source of advice for local beauty consumers. Zhouzhou KOI is popular among college students thanks to his recommendations for affordable substitute products for luxury skincare.

Yi Mengling @易梦玲

Followers: 4.5 Million

Average MIV: $28,130 (194,367 RMB)

Fashion and beauty influencer Yi Mengling is coined by netizens as ‘ambiance beauty 氛围感美女.’ Image: Yi Mengling

Fashion and beauty influencer Yi Mengling has been dubbed by netizens as an ‘ambiance beauty’ 氛围感美女. The term refers to the concept that beauty is not a characteristic that differentiates people, but is an element of harmony. Yi captures the essence of this approach. Her outfit, makeup, and environment create a harmonious vibe. Her looks, makeup, and poses are often imitated by young girls. 

International brands such as Burberry, Estée Lauder, and Tiffany have also noticed the influencer. She is now a frequent guest at maisons’ events and co-creates content with them. Overall, the KOL’s style and following align well with the luxury segment. 

Shen Zichen @沈子丞

Followers: 789,970 

Average MIV: $17,849 (123,332 RMB)

Shen Zichen weekly shares massage and training exercises and herbal teas for his followers to improve their appearance. Image: Shen Zichen

Shen Zichen is another male beauty influencer who is gaining momentum in Xiaohongshu. 

Unlike Zhouzhou KOI, the ingredient expert, Shen shares weekly massage and training exercises and herbal teas tips for his followers to improve their skin’s appearance.

The approach is nothing new to Chinese consumers, who have used the traditional facial guasha (scraping) method for centuries in the belief that it improves blood circulation and firms the skin. Hence, Shen’s massage routines and natural remedies are seen as a healthy solution to aging issues.

Tong Shuangshuang @爱化妆的二双

Followers: 2.2 Million

Average MIV: $24,787 (171,268 RMB)

For any occasion and style, beauty blogger Tong Shuangshuang has the perfect makeup to propose to her followers. Image: Weibo

For any occasion or style, from Eastern to Western aesthetics and fictional character imitation, beauty blogger Tong Shuangshuang has the perfect makeup for her followers. In her videos, she teaches viewers how to recreate her look step by step. 

Her foreign boyfriend (nationality not revealed) frequently appears in her videos, in which Tong dresses him like a girl or matches his look with hers. The videos where the two appear together have a high engagement rate: fans actively comment under the posts. 

Elvis @Elvis增增

Followers: 1.7 Million

Average MIV: $29,806 (205,945 RMB)

Elvis is an affirmed makeup artist who has collaborated with Chinese stars like Cai Xukun and Zhang Yuqi and created looks for brands’ catwalk show. Image: Xiaohongshu screenshot

Elvis is a makeup artist who has collaborated with Chinese stars like Cai Xukun and Zhang Yuqi and created looks for brands’ catwalk shows. Thanks to his identity as an expert, his followers are eager to watch his videos to discover the skincare products used by celebrities and learn the correct makeup application method to create the perfect look. 

Since March this year, Elvis has started inviting his young fans to broadcast online – he analyzes their makeup and tells them how to apply it correctly. In the comments section, users frequently ask the makeup artist to release more videos like these. Users find it easier to learn how to apply products by looking at how beginners do it under Elvis’ instruction. Also, his anxious and dramatic attitude amuses netizens.

Winnie Wen @Winnie文

Followers: 5.6 Million

Average MIV: N/A

Beauty KOL Winnie Wen is the answer for beauty shoppers looking for pocket-friendly beauty product suggestions. Image: Winnie Wen

Last but not least, Winnie Wen is the answer for beauty shoppers looking for pocket-friendly beauty product suggestions. Nearly every day, the beauty blogger shares a basket of products she has tested and selected for her fans, ranging from skincare to cosmetics, hair care, and fragrances. Each product is presented with the price and her own review, and she also shares the most convenient channels where people can purchase the item being reviewed.

The influencer’s main targets are the young demographics that have limited budgets. Indeed, Wen mainly suggests affordable brands. Niche domestic brands like People, Holdlive, and Jejo, frequently appear in her videos thanks to their Asian sensitive-skin friendly formulas and cost-friendly price points.

Jing Daily’s monthly Chinese KOL tracking column looks at the most influential and active figures on China’s popular social media platforms that reshape consumer behaviors. From luxury to beauty, travel to lifestyle, and fashion, it offers a curated selection of the fastest-rising influencers and the trends behind them. Data are provided by the online performance measurement platform Launchmetrics.

LVMH Unveils Asia’s Largest R&D Center In Shanghai As China Skincare Enters New Stage

What Happened: Following French conglomerate LVMH’s overhaul of its beauty division and the appointment of the former L’Oréal China CEO Stéphane Rinderknech as chairman and CEO of its perfumes and cosmetics department in March, the group has unveiled its first big move in China: its Perfumes and Cosmetics Asia R&D Center in Shanghai, which opened last month. 

Covering an area of more than 22,000㎡, it’s the group’s largest R&D center in Asia. Located on the outskirts of Shanghai, the site will be equipped with skincare, makeup, and color development laboratories, as well as product testing rooms, and workshop space. 

LVMH officially unveiled its Perfumes and Cosmetics Asia R&D Center in Shanghai, equipped with skincare, makeup, color development laboratories, product testing rooms, and workshop space. Image: LVMH

With the mission to “take root in Asia and China and create the beauty of the world,” the hub will enable the group to gain insights into local beauty shoppers. 

Chen Jing, R&D Director at LVMH Beauty Asia Pacific, revealed to local beauty outlet CBO Focus that the center will study Chinese consumers’ skin characteristics using the latest cutting-edge technology such as AI, and integrate multidisciplinary knowledge to develop skincare and beauty products that meet local shoppers’ needs. Additionally, it will work closely with the business’ French R&D center to localize new concepts.  

 The Jing Take: In 2019, China’s skincare market reached $35 billion (244 billion RMB), which was 4.43 times larger than the makeup market. According to Mintel, the skincare industry in China is expected to exceed $60 billion (415 billion RMB) by 2050. That said, skincare is a critical component for brands to take a share of China’s lucrative beauty market.

Although LVMH has over 70 brands in its portfolio, the behemoth’s beauty division has plenty of room for growth. Late last year, the group’s Cha Ling brand closed its last store in China, meaning that LVMH currently only operates two major high-end skincare brands in the country — Fresh and Guerlain — while LVMH-owned Fenty’s market share is relatively limited in the country.

Fresh skincare LVMH Cyndi Wang

Skincare brand Fresh has tapped Sister Who Makes Waves star Cyndi Wang to endorse its newest skin serum. Image: Fresh

With Chinese consumers becoming increasingly knowledgeable about skincare products and their ingredients — many describing themselves as ‘skintellectuals’ 成份党 — beauty giants are feeling the urge to double down on their commitment to R&D to ensure they stay relevant with this consumer segment.  

In 2021, Japanese conglomerate Shiseido launched its China Innovation Center in Shanghai’s Fengxian District to research and develop cutting-edge skincare technologies. Meanwhile, consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble has pledged to invest $100 million (700 million RMB) over the next three years in its China Digital Innovation Centre in Guangzhou, inaugurated in 2021. In 2022, Estée Lauder unveiled its new China Innovation Labs to develop skincare and beauty products.

In 2022, Estée Lauder also unveiled its new China Innovation Labs. Image: Estée Lauder

Locating large R&D centers in China has emerged as a common practice for beauty groups. These hubs enable brands to better meet the differentiated needs of China’s shoppers. They also help embed businesses in China’s mature supply chain system and provide access to the country’s R&D talent pool. 

This wave of R&D centers is propelling China’s skincare development to a new stage of development. The battle for talent, resources, and market share is about to heat up.

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.

Luxury definition

What Is Luxury, Really?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve held several strategy workshops with luxury brand teams and one question kept recurring: What is luxury? Even among luxury brands the term is not used in a consistent fashion. Some brands prefer to call themselves “premium,” in part because they feel uncomfortable with the term “luxury.” Some use their prices as an indicator and group the competitive set from entry level to premium to luxury. Fundamentally, the definition seems fluid and changes from brand to brand.

Using price points may seem like a practical shortcut to define the term, but the difficulty is that high prices are just one of the many attributes of luxury. While a brand like Hermès is able to sell handbags for $50,000 or more, most other brands would not be able to sell a single piece at that price. So, while the price is observable, it does not explain what makes something luxurious. Moreover, it does not provide any direction for managers on what to do next.

In one discussion, the suggestion was that brands and products with many flashy logos are not luxury. This is also arbitrary and nothing more than a judgement about specific visual expressions that may or may not be a preference of some clients.

A better way to approach luxury with high managerial relevance is to think of luxury as the ability to create extreme value for clients. Hence, a brand has to flip the script and take the perspective of a client. If an individual client feels extreme desirability towards a brand in a way that is exponentially stronger than other brands in the category, then extreme value was created which then translates in a non-linear willingness to pay.

Hence, if there is no extreme value perception, there is no luxury. This is backed by years of academic research at my luxury strategy center Pepperdine University, which indicates that desirability, from a psychological viewpoint, is created through the anticipation of an individual perception shift across dimensions like attractiveness, perceived expertise, and the feeling of being protected within a social setting.

So rather than thinking of status, which is not directly manageable by brands, it’s much more useful to think of a set of psychological facets buyers anticipate will be enhanced through their purchase, as well as the trigger for the anticipation. Hence, desirability is created through the brand story, an area that too many brands still neglect.

Without a unique and authentic story, which, when done right, describes with precision the one thing the brand should be remembered for, there is no chance to create extreme value for clients in a highly competitive environment. Yet, more than 90 percent of brands today lack such a story. The misconception is that the story is optional. In luxury, it is what creates extreme value. Without it there is nothing, no matter if brands call themselves premium or luxury.

This is an opinion piece where all views expressed belong to the author.

Named one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch,” Daniel Langer is the CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults many of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several best-selling luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses on the future of luxury, disruption, and the luxury metaverse in Europe, the USA, and Asia.

Follow him: LinkedIn:, Instagram: @equitebrands /@thedaniellanger

Adidas’ Golden Ticket NFTs, Jay Chou’s Tmall Meta-Space & More: Web3 Drops Of The Week

On the first Monday of May, the Met Gala went meta. Alexis Ohanian, American internet entrepreneur and husband of tennis legend Serena Williams, sported a custom made Gucci brooch and cufflink set based on the Yuga Labs “Otherside” character “Blue.” New York-founded cult label Vaquera also shared its take on the annual fashion extravaganza, exploring what the event’s red carpet would have looked like through the lens of artificial intelligence (AI).

As for this week’s round-up, Mandopop star Jay Chou is back to boosting his metaverse presence via Tmall’s newly augmented digital space. Jing Meta also looks at how Adidas is taking its Web3 community to the next level and committing to its pledge to bridge the worlds of Web2 and Web3 through fresh activations. Alo Yoga is making moves in the metaverse too, after launching a new NFC-powered “Tap For Mindfulness” campaign across its stores — demonstrating once again how brands are pushing to connect their virtual presence with their offline one.

For more Web3 drops like these straight to your inbox, sign up to our twice-weeklyJing Meta newsletter here.


Alo Yoga Launches “Tap For Wellness” Tokens For Mental Health Awareness Month

What Happened: Alo Yoga is keeping up its wellness endeavor in Web3, and has launched a new project centered around the wellbeing practice of affirmations. To commemorate mental health awareness month in May, the athleisure label partnered with MoonPay to create its “tap for mindfulness” project. 

Customers visiting the brand’s brick-and-mortar store can tap an NFC-activated display to claim their free daily affirmation collectible, which provides access to a range of mental health resources and affirmation NFTs via email.

The Verdict: The mission-driven lifestyle brand has become one of the fastest growing retail labels globally thanks to its community-centric approach. Its presence in Web3 is no different. Tapping into its core values of better health and lifestyles, Alo has been utilizing technology like near field communication to advocate for holistic health practices and intentional self care in the metaverse.

As for its community, the scan-to-unlock process which the brand implemented in its IRL shop floors is a seamless method of introducing its cohort to the prospect of NFTs and digital collectibles, with minimal risk in the process. 

Jay Chou’s new Tmall metaverse space allows fans to explore his music videos and the storyline behind them. Photo: Tmall

Jay Chou Unveils “Special Demo” Metaverse Space In Tmall For Fans

What Happened: The musician and co-founder of fashion label PHANTACi has upped his status in China’s metaverse once again, this time by launching a new immersive space in collaboration with digital collection platform Mint App. Leveraging fan engagement and participation, visitors can discover “Easter eggs” hidden inside scenes, which unlock secret soundtracks and unique postcards. 

China’s leading e-commerce platform Tmall upgraded its metaverse before launching the new 3D music area. In the space, users can access Chou’s popular music works and explore the storyline of music videos in an interactive way.

The Verdict: This is the second virtual space established by Chou. Last year, the musician transformed five of his songs into 10,000 digital collectibles that unlocked access to an exclusive virtual fan experience. The project gained a lot of traction across China, but the “keys” ultimately failed to sell out. While Chou’s metaverse ambitions may not have always taken off, his commitment to cracking the Chinaverse has been anything but momentary, with the artist continuing to dive deeper into the ecosystem through explorative adventures. As for this latest drop, it’s yet to receive as much exposure across China’s socials as Chou’s previous digital project; however, its official Weibo hashtag has already garnered 128,000 reads (at the time of publishing) since it was first posted. 


Adidas rolls out “Golden Ticket” NFT raffle for its growing Web3 community

What Happened: This week, the sportswear label offered its community the chance to win an “Adidas Confirmed Golden Ticket” NFT, which grants its winner (chosen on May 5) guaranteed access to one drop of their choice over the next year via its dedicated app, Adidas Confirmed. Participants in the draw needed both the brand’s Confirmed app and an ETH wallet to enter. In an official Tweet for the raffle, the brand wrote, “This is not an #ALTSbyadidas exclusive activation, but our pledge to use our brand and technology to further bridge the gap between Web3 and Web2.”

The Verdict: This past year has seen the brand roll out a new Web3 loyalty program and adopt a new-and-improved direction in its roadmap. What has surfaced as a result is ventures like its new ALTS by Adidas, which is overseen by the label’s Bored Ape mouthpiece — also recognized as Indigo Herz. 

This next phase in its ALTS journey celebrates community rewards. The official Tweet for the raffle received over 110,000 views, with enthusiasts saying that the competition was a “fantastic” use of blockchain technology. Overall, Adidas’ Web3 strategy is based on utilizing the power of tech and the steadfast loyalty of sneaker communities to cultivate a new generation of fans — a tactic that has secured its position as a role model in the industry.

diesel dolores art toys

Diesel Taps Collectible Toy Frenzy For China’s 520 Valentine’s Day


Diesel has collaborated with the collectible toy brand Dolores to create limited-edition figurines in celebration of this year’s 520 Valentine’s Day in China. The art toys feature Diesel’s Spring 2023 collection and its bestselling 1DR handbags, and come in three colorways: neon pink, neon green, and neon yellow. However, these figurines are not for sale — rather, they are exclusively available for consumers who spend over $752 (5,200 RMB) at the brand’s Tmall flagship store and selected offline shops.

Netizens’ Reaction

This is the second time that Diesel has partnered with Dolores, which was created by Pony on Wheel Studio. Their first collaboration, introduced in July 2022 to celebrate Qixi Festival (a traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day), received overwhelmingly positive feedback from local shoppers. Likewise, netizens are impressed with the new collection’s cute appearance and miniature 1DR handbags, with some complaining that they wish to purchase the art toys.


By dressing a playful art toy IP with a hero product, the OTB-owned fashion label keeps its finger on the pulse of what is popular with young Chinese consumers. More importantly, by making the toys limited edition and not for sale, Diesel drives up the desirability of the collaboration. As Jing Daily’s report Winning China’s High-Spending Cultural Consumer: The Future Of Luxury points out, exclusivity, status, and cultural significance are all important factors that influence the purchasing decision.

From mounting giant inflatable sculptures in Shanghai, to releasing a capsule collection with League of Legends esports club WBG, Diesel has launched exciting local campaigns since its turnaround in 2022. When Renzo Rosso visited China in April, he credited OTB’s growth to “retail expansion and collaborations initiated with local talent that helped amplify brands’ presence in the market.” He also noted that “as the founder of Diesel, I’m happy to see how Glenn Martens transformed the brand with modernity. It’s becoming a couture-denim brand.”

Diesel China inflatable model

From August 26-28, Diesel presented a gigantic inflatable sculpture next to its pop-up store at TX Huaihai, Shanghai. Photo: Courtesy of Diesel

The denim brand’s transformation has been a success so far. Still, consumer appetite and preferences are constantly evolving. Although reusing old marketing tactics and sticking to well-received collaborations are safe options, creating newness and staying ahead of the curve will ensure a brand’s leading position in the highly competitive Chinese market.   

For more on brand collaboration, check out Jing Daily’s weekly Collabs and Drops newsletter — a weekly analytical lowdown on the latest news. Sign up here.

China luxury spending

Global Luxury Rebounds: LVMH, Hermès Sales Soar Due To Chinese Spending

What Happened: The luxury industry is seeing its first major boost in sales since China’s reopening after years of lockdown and economic uncertainty. Luxury spending in China is outpacing the country’s overall retail sales and economic growth, according to The New York Times. In March, sales of gold, silver and fine jewelry increased by 37.4 percent year on year — the strongest March performance for jewelry sales on record, according to figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. 

The Jing Take: While it has only been a few months since China reopened its borders, all eyes are on the nation as Chinese consumers begin to resume “normal” spending patterns. China’s GDP rose by 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2023, up from 2.9 percent the year before — its largest jump in recent years, thanks to a boost in retail and property sales, according to reports

Luxury brands are taking note, as many scramble to enhance their presence, campaigns and consumer-facing experiences in the nation.

In April, it was announced that French luxury conglomerate LVMH, which owns Dior, Tiffany, Sephora and other brands, plans to open its first Louis Vuitton flagship store in Hainan — one of China’s rising domestic tourism and duty-free shopping hubs. The two-story store is opening amid talk of Louis Vuitton raising its prices by 20 percent this year.

The brand more recently unveiled its first furniture and homewares store in Shanghai in November 2022. Despite the nation’s continued lockdowns at the time, Louis Vuitton’s bet on launching its first appointment-only furniture showroom in China appears to have paid off.

Louis Vuitton opened a dedicated furniture and homewares store in Shanghai in 2022. Photo: Louis Vuitton

Parent company LVMH recently surpassed $500 billion in market value after reporting a 17 percent rise in total sales in the first quarter compared with the year before. Its fashion and leather goods division also experienced an 18 percent jump in sales due to spending by Chinese consumers. 

Meanwhile, other brands including Brunello Cucinelli and Hermès saw sales rise by 56 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the first quarter as retail consumption in China bounces back. 

Globally, China was responsible for 41 percent of new luxury store openings in 2022, according to Savill’s latest Global Luxury Retail Outlook. In comparison, Europe drove 23 percent of global luxury store openings, while the Middle East doubled its growth to account for 6 percent. 

It’s evident Chinese consumption remains a crucial driver for the global luxury market’s rebound in 2023. 

“We expect China to be the luxury industry’s key growth engine this year, especially given a slight deceleration in other core markets like the U.S. and Korea… Much of the initial spend driving the rebound is, for now, less to do with the middle class of China and more to do with rich people spending more,” a Morgan Stanley analyst stated in the aforementioned Times report.

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.

Karl Lagerfeld Macau luxury hotel

Why Versace And Karl Lagerfeld Are Launching Hotels In China’s Gambling Mecca

Following a Karl Lagerfeld-themed Met Gala — where the world’s biggest stars dazzled in black and white, and even paid tribute to Lagerfeld’s beloved pet cat — fans of the late designer can now experience his legacy in a new way.

In June this year, the Karl Lagerfeld brand will officially open the doors of its first luxury hotel in Macau. Originally scheduled to launch in 2018 but delayed due to the pandemic, the hotel was the last design project undertaken by the former creative director of Chanel and Fendi before his death in 2019.

The five-star hotel will be part of the Grand Lisboa Palace, a sprawling luxury complex owned by the family of Macau’s late casino magnate Stanley Ho, which launched in 2021 on the Cotai Strip. The Karl Lagerfeld hotel tower features 271 rooms, a restaurant run by renowned Portuguese chef José Avillez, a spa and wellness center, an indoor swimming pool, and a Baroque-style outdoor garden that embodies the opulence of Macau.

The Book Lounge at the Karl Lagerfeld Macau hotel is designed after the late designer’s study in his Paris mansion. Photo: Grand Lisboa Palace Resort Macau

The Karl Lagerfeld Macau mixes and matches Chinese elements with contemporary Western touches. Cherry blossoms decorate the walls in the Klassik room, complementing the red and gold furniture, while custom headboards take inspiration from auspicious Chinese coins. In the Createur suite, circular room dividers pay homage to traditional Chinese moon gates and contrast with the Grisaille wall coverings and carpet.

The Klassik room blends Chinese and Western aesthetics. Photo: Karl Lagerfeld Macau

“You know, Gabrielle Chanel always said, ‘I only make dresses I would wear.’ And I make only rooms where I would like to sleep. It’s as simple as that,” Lagerfeld stated in an interview in 2014.

It’s not that surprising that the fashion house chose Macau as its first stop. The special administrative region is one of the world’s biggest gambling and high-end shopping destinations; the shopping mall at the Grand Lisboa Palace alone offers more than 100 fashion and lifestyle brands, including Cartier, Dior, and Valentino. Conveniently located near other Asian hubs and offering a unique blend of Portuguese and Chinese culture, Macau is steadily recovering from the pandemic; in the first quarter of this year, it welcomed almost 5 million arrivals, about 45 percent of 2019’s level.

“Compared to a hotel launch in [mainland] China, both Hong Kong or Macau are comparably easier destinations to ‘test’ something of this magnitude,” says Humphrey Ho, managing partner of Hylink Group, Americas, an integrated marketing agency that works with travel and luxury brands. “Karl Lagerfeld’s approach is probably more about the growth in leisure tourism industries in Macau, and coupled with their late entry in 2013 into the Chinese market, [the hotel] likely appeals to a nouveau-riche segment that frequents Macau and local destinations in Asia.”

Karl Lagerfeld follows in the footsteps of other fashion brands that have ventured into the hospitality sector via hotels, spas, and restaurants. Bulgari, for example, opened a hotel in Beijing in 2017, and one in Shanghai the following year. More recently, the Palazzo Versace Macau opened for bookings in April, bringing its signature prints and splashy colors to the Grand Lisboa Palace.

As Gian Giacomo Ferraris, the former CEO of Versace, said in a statement in 2013: “Palazzo Versace will enrich Macau with a unique property aiming to provide an exclusive experience and become a destination within a destination.”

Palazzo Versace Macau features furnishings from the Versace Home Collection. Photo: Grand Lisboa Palace Resort Macau

Essentially, the hotel trend is about taking branded experiences to the next level — offering consumers more than what a simple retail or pop-up store can.

“If we look at the Bulgari hotel, or other successful properties, what we see is not only a presentation of products and services at the hotel, but it brings the lifestyle and brand identity to life through all the senses,” Ho tells Jing Daily. “Not to mention the price premium that the room night brings in the area, which (using Bulgari Hotel London as an example) can be twice the room night of a similar five-star hotel in the same area.” 

From stunning architecture, to hand-picked interiors and haute cuisine, brands have an opportunity to communicate their values on all fronts through hotels and deepen their relationship with local consumers. 

That said, Macau is known for being over the top — it’s not nicknamed the “Vegas of Asia” for nothing. With glitz and glamor being the standard, Karl Lagerfeld and Versace will still have to compete for attention.

LVMH Hermes stock prices

China Continues To Fuel Spring Luxury Rebound

European luxury goods makers are experiencing a renaissance due to robust demand in China, primarily fueled by the resumption of normal activities following the country’s removal of COVID-19 restrictions, in turn driving the stock prices of some luxury fashion houses to all-time highs. 

“China should become the industry’s growth engine from this year on, and we expect brands at the top of the luxury-goods pyramid to benefit the most,” Edouard Aubin, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, stated in a recent report.

As the country’s middle-to-high income consumer base continues to expand — and these individuals typically express their financial success and status through luxury goods consumption — experts believe that the Chinese market will be crucial for global luxury sector growth well into the future.

“There is further growth of middle class households who account for a bulk of the luxury consumption, even in a climate where China’s growth has been moderate,” says Felicia Schwartz, founder of brand consultancy China Insight.  

China’s population of middle-and high-income consumers is expected to double by 2030 to reach around 500 million people, according to Bain & Company.

Upward trajectory

The stock prices of luxury brands such as Hermès, Kering and LVMH have risen significantly from the beginning of Q4 2022. 

Hermès and LVMH’s share prices hit record highs in April, increasing by 65 percent and 48 percent, respectively, while Kering’s shares have climbed 27 percent.

In Q1 2023, LVMH reported 17 percent year-on-year global sales growth, and a 14 percent increase in Asia, driven by China’s reopening. Similarly, Hermès reported a 23 percent YoY increase in revenue from Asia in the first three months of 2023. It went on to top market capitalization of $200 billion for the first time in April. One caveat to note is that stellar sales growth comes off a low base. 

“With Chinese tourists now able to freely travel overseas, they are actively stimulating the luxury sector by purchasing high-end products in their destination countries,” says Ashley Dudarenok, China digital marketing expert and founder of China digital marketing agency Alarice. 

Post-pandemic turning points 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, around 66 percent of Chinese consumer spending on luxury goods occurred outside China, contributing to approximately 60 percent of the industry’s growth between 2000 and 2019, according to a Morgan Stanley report published in March. 

Chinese consumers’ luxury goods spending declined 10-15 percent in 2022, following a 20 percent annual increase in 2021, the report found.

The tide has turned this year, and many top executives are doubling down on China. 

During Q1 2023, prominent luxury conglomerate executives like François-Henri Pinault, CEO and chairman of Kering Group, ventured to prominent Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Nanjing. 

Kering Group CEO François-Henri Pinault gave a speech at Tsinghua University in March. Photo: Kering

Dudarenok says executives also paid attention to emerging second-tier cities and smaller markets, reflecting these locations’ immense potential for luxury consumption. 

“In addition, the comparatively lower prices of luxury goods in Europe versus China may incentivize Chinese consumers to increase their purchases of established brands in Europe [now that they are allowed to travel abroad], further contributing to the sector’s success,” she adds.

Luxury with Chinese characteristics

McKinsey & Company projects that the combined spending of 7.6 million Chinese households on luxury goods will hit RMB 1 trillion ($145 billion) by 2025, twice the amount spent in 2016. 

This figure is equivalent to combined luxury goods spending in France, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US in 2016.

Wang Qing, a professor of marketing and co-founder of the Luxury and Innovation Hub at the UK’s University of Warwick, explains that the rise of luxury consumption in China is the result of the country’s stage of economic development and cultural characteristics.

“As China’s economy has rapidly grown, a large population of new wealthy individuals who use luxury goods to symbolize status and financial success has emerged. Culturally, China is a (socially) interdependent society where people are susceptible to peer pressure and influences,” she says.

Schwartz concurs, saying China is a hierarchical and status-focused society in which people like to show off the accessories as a way of gaining prestige.

“The other reason is that they can afford it,” she says. “China’s middle classes are now becoming sophisticated consumers who have travelled and experienced different brands and appreciate beauty, craftsmanship and quality.”

Which brands are winning?

LVMH and Hermès stand out among the luxury brands that are in high demand among Chinese buyers. 

“From a marketing perspective, this is due to the strong country of origin effect of the French luxury sector in Chinese consumers’ minds and the French luxury companies’ effective brand communication strategies and storytelling,” Wang says. 

Unveiled in April, the Dior Gardening capsule collection combines luxury and sportswear. Photo: Dior

“In contrast, Italian brands are somewhat slow at adapting to the different cultural context of the Chinese luxury market, and their brand image suffered due to poor communication strategies, as illustrated in the D&G controversy,” she says.

Jonathan Siboni, founder and CEO of Paris-based data intelligence firm Luxurynsight, says the success of Hermès with Chinese consumers is because it’s a family-owned luxury brand that values creating attachment with its customers and producing uncompromised quality.

“Hermès avoids flooding the market with its products and focuses on long-term growth and sustainability, rather than short-term gains. The company’s slow and precise decision-making and commitment to perfectionism contribute to its reputation as a luxury brand that is also akin to art,” he says.

Other brands would be well advised to learn lessons from LVMH and Hermès’ success in China, Siboni adds.


premiumization luxury skincare

SK-II, La Mer’s Sluggish Sales In China Cast Shadow On Premium Skincare Trend Boom

What Happened: Japanese high-end skincare label SK-II reported sluggish sales in the first three months of the year, dragging down the performance of its parent company, Procter & Gamble. In its fiscal third quarter of 2023, the group’s beauty segment rose 3 percent year on year in net sales to $3.5 billion (24.2 billion RMB). Compare this to the same period in 2021, when P&G’s beauty segment recorded a 9 percent surge in sales.

Similarly, L’Oréal’s premium beauty division, which has propelled the company’s growth over the past few years, has shown signs of slowing. In Q1 2023, L’Oréal Luxe posted a 7.7-percent YoY increase in global sales, but YoY sales growth in North Asia, including China, came in at an anemic 1.1 percent.


Japanese high-end skincare label SK-II reported sluggish sales in the three months ended March 31, 2023. Image: SK-II

Another indicator of this luxury skincare slowdown in China is the sales performance of high-end beauty products on International Women’s Day. The first shopping carnival after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted in China, the March 8 holiday served as a key opportunity for brands to boost revenue by launching new products and marketing initiatives.

​​However, luxury skincare brands’ sales on Tmall collectively declined, according to local media Jumeili. Among them, La Mer and Shiseido’s sales dropped 47 percent and 57 percent, respectively, compared to the same period in 2022. Estée Lauder, Lancôme, and Helena Rubenstein also performed poorly. Does this mean the premium beauty boom is plateauing?

The Jing Take: While premiumization was once seen as the strategic formula for growth, beauty conglomerates’ recent earnings reports and sales data call into question luxury skincare lines’ ability to boost sales at the same rate. 

In 2021, Japanese group Shiseido sold affordable brands Senka and Aquair to focus on developing high-end lines. Meanwhile, Yatsen Holdings, Perfect Diary’s parent company, attempted to diversify its revenue sources by acquiring overseas luxury brands, such as Eve Lom and Galénic.


Yatsen Holdings attempted to diversify its revenue sources by acquiring overseas luxury brands like Eve Lom. Image: Eve Lom

However, the market’s high-end segment is getting crowded. Not only are international brands trying to expand their market share, but cosmetics brands are also seeking new opportunities in this area. 

For instance, Mac recently launched its skincare line, and homegrown names such as Proya, Yatsen Holdings, and Bloomage Biotech are moving up the scale by releasing anti-aging products and increasing their prices.

Today’s beauty consumer in China is spoiled with a myriad of skincare choices. The challenge for established brands is securing consumer loyalty in the face of rising competition from new players entering the arena. 

Many renowned high-end brands, like SK-II, continue to rely on a few star products. Failing to release new products that meet local consumers’ changing needs would put brands at a disadvantage — those that don’t innovate will likely lose market share to homegrown upstarts, which have the advantage of being able to create skincare products specifically for Asian skin and rapidly adapt to market trends. 


Homegrown name Proya is moving up the scale by releasing anti-aging products and increasing its prices. Image: Proya

Though competition is increasing, and sales aren’t growing as quickly as they were, the skincare sector as a whole is resilient and is still expanding, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Premium skincare will continue to propel the beauty segment’s growth in the short term, but simply being luxurious is no longer enough to secure sales. Brands must reinvent themselves to remain relevant in China.

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.

Tommy Hilfiger has made collaboration an intrinsic element of its growth strategy, having also released a collection with streetwear-favorite Aries recently. Photo: Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger x Andy Warhol, Sacai x Ghetto Gastro, And Ganni’s Jewelry Move: Global Collabs Of The Week

So, the “In honor of Karl” Met Gala happened on Monday May 1st. Bronx rapper Ice Spice made her event debut in partnership with eBay and Vogue, Jared Leto showed up in a costume modeled after Lagerfeld’s pet cat Choupette, Chen Peng dressed Cardi B, and Chinese music artist Cai Xukun attended holding a fan designed by Chinese artist Xu Bing. Also over the past week, Feng Chen Wang starred in Nike’s new campaign alongside Grammy-award winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion and others. 

For Pharrell’s Something In The Water music festival in Virginia Beach, Louis Vuitton (LV) created exclusive merchandise to celebrate its new men’s creative director. The release proves just how much the luxury house plans on leveraging Pharrell’s existing fanbase, showing a distinct affinity to his artistry. Luxury fashion is now centered entirely on popular culture, with brands like LV tapping into the rise of community-led purchasing through merchandise.

This week, though, the Collabs & Drops newsletter focused on another merch-move of Sacai and Ghetto Gastro. We also look at Tommy Hilfiger’s latest ready-to-wear collection featuring the work of Andy Warhol, and Ganni’s first jewelry collaboration. For our verdict on those, check out the below, and subscribe here to receive these updates straight to your inbox.

Tommy Hilfiger x Andy Warhol

tommy x andy warhol

For Spring 2023, Tommy Hilfiger has worked with the late Andy Warhol’s estate. Photo: Tommy Hilfiger

Date: April 25

Verdict: A collection dedicated to the late artist Andy Warhol’s love for Montauk, New York. The 28-piece line incorporates colors, prints, and textures inspired by the seaside. Instead of taking the artist’s IP and slapping it on T-shirts and hoodies, this collection feels more artistically done.

One of Tommy Hilfiger’s dedicated Instagram posts has just 429 likes currently, but the comments are all positive, expressing love for the color palette in particular. When artist collaborations feel overdone, utilizing their works for creative inspiration rather than just for graphics makes for more appealing apparel collections. Brands should take note. 

Ganni x Veneda Carter

Ganni and Veneda Carter have designed jewelry incorporating the Danish brand's new logo. Photo: Ganni

Ganni and Veneda Carter have designed jewelry incorporating the Danish brand’s new logo. Photo: Ganni

Date: April 28

Verdict: Ganni has decided to bring its new butterfly logo to its first jewelry collaboration. Made in partnership with LA-based creative Veneda Carter, the collection features the revamped logo on earrings, a bracelet, and necklaces in silver and gold. Seeing as the celebrity stylist’s eponymous brand only launched in 2022, Ganni evidently has confidence in its growth and reach.

After all, the Copenhagen-born talent has 290,000 Instagram followers, and has previously worked as head stylist for Yeezy and as a day-to-day stylist for Kim Kardashian. Fans of Ganni are likely to overlap with fans of Veneda Carter, so both names will benefit from the relevant exposure.

Sacai x Ghetto Gastro


Sacai and Ghetto Gastro have brought out a capsule featuring a pullover, pants and an apron. Photo: Sacai

Date: April 28

Verdict: It all started with the “Sacai Gastro” pop-up in Tokyo back in December, which presented a menu inspired by Nike and Sacai’s Waffle collabs. Sacai and the culinary collective have now come together on a clothing capsule. Seeing as the bandana print is an ode to the Bronx gangs of the ’70s and blue-collar workers, the clothing collection is steeped in meaning that resonates with Ghetto Gastro’s core identity.

This collab is proof that fashion and food can mix well when they find common ground. Not only does the capsule allow Ghetto Gastro to extend its reach in Asia, but it also invites Sacai’s streetwear-oriented consumers into its world, thus marking an amazing milestone for the two increasingly established talents.

D-Cave, Razer, And Retrosuperfuture Charts New Territory For Gaming In Web3

Stefano Rosso’s latest collaboration, as part of his lifestyle gaming platform D-Cave, is a match made in gamer heaven. Rosso — whose family firm OTB group which owns brands including Marni, Diesel, and Maison Margiela — is working in partnership with leading gaming brand Razer and eyewear label Retrosuperfuture to launch an exclusive model of sunglasses, dubbed “Razersuperfuture”.

Retrosuperfuture’s foray into the gaming scene is a natural extension of its brand positioning at the forefront of the contemporary streetwear market, the press release for the launch reads.

Featuring a mask-like silhouette, wide lenses, and a chunky acetate rim, Retrosuperfuture developed the eyewear design to complement gamers’ lifestyles, while remaining stylish to the non-digital-native eye. 

Built to withstand “rigorous” gaming sessions and both indoor and outdoor lighting situations, the glasses were crafted using a photochromic lens, as well as blue light protection to survive long hours in front of the screen. 

With a tagline reading “For Gamers, By Gamers” — which is also inscribed on the lens of the model —  the collaboration aims to attract both Razer’s and D-Cave’s steadfast community of enthusiasts. 

The collaborative eyewear design features a photochromic lens crafted exclusively for rigorous gaming sessions. Photo: D-Cave

Pushing frontiers

While D-Cave describes itself as a Web3 lifestyle space, this latest collaboration is a far cry from what we’ve seen in the virtual market over the past year. This drop takes neither the form of an non-fungible token (NFT) or a phygital product, and arrives as a fully physical asset. 

It does, however, affirm the convergence of gaming culture and contemporary fashion. The gaming industry has struggled to find its place within the market, but with major labels like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton now dabbling in the space, high fashion’s presence may provide fertile ground. 

In this collection’s case, both Razer and Retrosuperfuture endeavored to demonstrate how the gaming attire aesthetic no longer has to be compromised for functionality. 

Razer represents a new wave of gaming brands exploring urban style elements, and keeping their finger on the pulse of trends, in a bid to cater to the rising cohort of fashion-conscious gamers. 

“Razer is no stranger to the fashion scene, having collaborated with renowned fashion and lifestyle brands as well as launched our own line of apparels,” Addie Tan, Associate Director of Business Development at Razer says. 

The label has previously joined forces with the likes of Hello Kitty on a series of gaming chairs, keyboards, and headsets tapping female gamers — who now comprise up to 45% of the world’s gaming population — as well as the booming gamer girl aesthetic, which has inundated social media platforms like TikTok (the hashtag #gamergirlaesthetic has been viewed over 8 million times on the app)

One step at a time

As for D-Cave’s Stefano Rosso, a self-proclaimed gamer, it makes sense for the platform’s CEO to focus on catering to a community base he considers himself to be a part of. 

Ever since its launch in 2020, D-Cave has been doing things differently. While traditional brands have attempted to tackle the entire Web3 landscape at once, D-Cave has favored solidifying its niche and serving a select market of gamers in the space.

Of course, this means that cracking widespread mainstream appeal is off the cards for now, but the label remains quietly confident in its abilities to withstand an increasingly saturated metaverse market.

This mentality has also provided the platform with a unique position in this new iteration of the web. And it’s an area Rosso is keen to explore further through D-Cave.

“Gaming and fashion have always been our passion, and we are thrilled to curate this partnership between two top brands like Razer and Retrosuperfuture,” Rosso wrote in the collection’s press release. “We believe gaming and Web3 will change the world for the upcoming generations and our role is to be there to facilitate and enhance the best lifestyle projects for this new group of digital culture communities.”

Balmain Barbie Web3 youth

Kidulthood In Web3: The Metaverse Becomes An Inner Child Playground

Joyous sensorial playgrounds, virtual treasure hunts and surprise blind boxes: is Web3 bringing back the thrill of youth and helping users and consumers reconnect with their inner child?

The inner-child age of the Internet may have officially found its niche. From gamification campaigns to immersive adventure contests, the metaverse heralds a new wave of creatives bringing “kidulthood” back into fashion. 

“The greatest utility to me is fun. It’s such a beautiful thing to be able to fully allow your inner child to come out and be like, okay, let me just have fun,” artist Amber Park tells Jing Daily.

When the creative first began dabbling in the virtual world, she looked back to her early days to reawaken her imagination. What came to fruition as a result was the playful lifestyle ecosystem and fashion label Play!Pop!Go!. 

“What’s really at the root of Play!Pop!Go! is tapping into your inner child and bringing your imagination to life. It’s really grounded in ideas of positive intention and gratitude,” Park says. “I just started working on a bunch of different ideas that were things I used to draw a lot as a kid. It’s crazy as an adult how that naturally just starts coming back out again.” 

Amber Park’s Play!Pop!Go! ecosystem aims to reconnect the next generation of internet users with their youth. Photo: Play!Pop!Go!

According to Google trends, searches for the term “inner child” have risen steadily since 2018, with more consumers keen to know what the metaphorical buzzword entails. “Inner child work” is also doing the rounds on social media; the hashtag #innerchild has been viewed over 2.3 billion times on video-sharing app TikTok.

Its potential to optimize wellness, and capture consumers’ attention, hasn’t gone unrecognized. Thanks to rewards systems, incentivization and immersive environments, brands are unlocking a new level of community participation — and they have the burgeoning digital ecosystem of Web3 to thank for it.

The rise of gamification

Coined as the first iteration of Web3, gaming has been at the heart of the metaverse since its genesis. Charli Cohen, founder of crypto-native platform RSTLSS, believes that gaming is encouraging us to be more creative, free-spirited and curious, beyond what we’ve seen with Web2. 

“We aren’t bound by social or geographic restrictions, or physics, or really any of the trappings of the physical world, so we can take self-exploration to a whole new level,” she says.

Launched in the summer of 2016, the augmented reality-powered application Pokémon Go drew in over 250 million players per month at its peak, and totalled around 500 million global downloads in the three months following its release. 

Although its popularity has waned, the game still generates around 78 million monthly users on average, and has cultivated a community of die-hard fans. 

The platform’s rocketing success inspired a rush of brands to explore augmented reality in their own gamified campaigns. Consequently, the art of incentivization through play has become the marketing hack of the decade. 

For its AW22 campaign, Kate Spade invited customers to enter its interactive virtual townhouse, in which they could play to unlock access to the brand’s new line of handbags. Co-creation was also encouraged, with participants able to design their own wallpaper out of Kate Spade prints.

Balenciaga, too, has jumped on the trend. The brand recently launched its very own WeChat-based mini game. Players navigate through the space  in the form of a farmer avatar learning about the house’s agricultural efforts. 

“The anonymity of an avatar or username removes inhibitions and allows us to explore parts of ourselves without fear of judgment. It gives us permission to play, as an adult,” Cohen says.

Kate Spade’s virtual townhouse encouraged players to take part in a series of gamified activities. Photo: Kate Spade

Fun via online ‘playgrounds’

Feeding into gamification, multidisciplinary “playgrounds” dedicated to fostering creativity and socialization have also taken off. 

“I always visited this dream world in my daydreams when growing up, and I thought to myself, when I got older, how could I make this something real,” Danny Cole told Jing Daily ahead of his New York Fashion Week debut in November last year.

Based on his prolific “Creature World” NFT project, the creative disruptor constructed a gleeful, multisensory playground for visitors to immerse themselves in. From paper maché sculptures to inflatable bouncy castles, the pop-up served as an ode to the whimsical childhood utopia he had built in his imagination during his early years. 

While Parks’ Play!Pop!Go! vision is a less sensorial milieu, the play platform is still just as rooted in escapism, and aims to provide a space for audiences to reawaken their inner child through unique storylines and quests. 

Following its sold-out “Dreambox” launch in March (which unlocked access to the platform’s Play3 “Parktopia”), the label is set to debut its first digital fashion collaborations alongside eyewear label Bonnie Clyde and Gucci Vault artist Pet Liger in June. The brand also dropped its inaugural line of streetwear-inspired garments last month.

“As humans, we’re naturally innately creative beings. We have this essence of wanting to feel free and to unlock our imagination, and I think things like cartoons and toys represent that kind of spirit that’s within us,” Park says. 

Danny Cole’s Creature World brings to life the imaginary dreamworld from his childhood. Photo: Creature World

Tapping into nostalgia

Consumers’ recent pivot away from newness to nostalgia-driven products has also contributed to the “kidult” boom. A 2022 Toy Association Survey found that 58% of adult respondents had purchased a toy for themselves, while ‘kidults’ reportedly contribute $9 billion a year to the industry and made up 25% of toy sales in 2022.

As for luxury, this return to childhood products and memories has inspired campaigns such as Loewe x Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle, which went viral across social media, and Jimmy Choo x Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. The latter received over 258,000 views on Weibo in a week, demonstrating the extent of demand for products that evoke nostalgia and incorporate elements from childhood.

Brands in the Chinaverse have also taken note. Tapping into the mainland’s penchant for nostalgia and cuteness, digital collectibles are now taking the form of toys and popular IPs in a bid to drive sales and attract widespread attention. 


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To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, RobbiART last year collaborated with Nudake (founded by Gentle Monster) on a series of digital collectibles. Meanwhile, in honor of the Year of the Rabbit, Creed Fragrances tapped the toy IP to launch “the world’s first scented art toy,” which was fitted with an NFC chip enabling consumers to scan its left foot and reveal an NFT. 

Unsurprisingly, both domestic toy enthusiasts and tapped-in consumers took to the collaborations.

Despite a slew of notable developments and rapid growth, the metaverse’s future is still being approached with fear and uncertainty. But with a new wave of the populace celebrating fun, play, and childlike freedom like never before, it looks more like a worthwhile adventure than ever.

Karl Lagerfeld Met Gala

The 2023 Met Gala Reckons With Karl Lagerfeld’s Complicated Legacy

What Happened: This week’s Met Gala marked the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s spring 2023 exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” The exhibition showcases the legacy of the late designer, who was one of fashion’s most influential figures as creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his namesake brand up until his death in 2019. Chinese celebrities, including Cai Xukun, Wang Jiaer, Gu Ailing, Liu Wen, He Cong, and Margaret Zhang, attended the prestigious Met Gala. The event’s hashtag on Weibo generated around 2 billion views today. Cai Xukun’s related outfit post received nearly 1.5 million likes and over 1 million reposts.

But the decision to spotlight Lagerfeld’s contributions to fashion also raised questions about less savory aspects of his legacy. Throughout his lifetime, the designer frequently made fatphobic remarks, derided the #MeToo movement and criticized his native Germany for accepting refugees from Muslim-majority countries, leading some to criticize the choice to honor his work. 

Recommended ReadingChanel and Fendi After Karl LagerfeldBy Daniel Langer

Lagerfeld was knowingly provocative in his comments, calling himself a “caricature of myself” in his 2013 book The World According to Karl and staging a faux feminist protest at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2015 ready-to-wear show. But dedicating a Met Gala to his legacy in 2023 represents a larger challenge in the fashion industry: how to meld luxury’s traditionally exclusionary model with contemporary values built on diversity and inclusion. 

The Jing Take: As fashion’s most high-profile event, the Met Gala offers a rare opportunity for celebrities and designers to showcase not only their names, but their values. And attendees have occasionally used the high-profile event to make political statements, most notably US Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who wore a dress emblazoned with “Tax the Rich” by New York designer Brother Vellies at the 2021 event. 


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Guests at this week’s event made more subtle statements that melded Lagerfeld’s legacy with contemporary norms. The event featured many archival gowns, in keeping with a growing red carpet trend of rewearing used gowns in a nod to sustainability. Co-host Dua Lipa wore the wedding dress look modeled by Claudia Schiffer for Chanel’s Fall/Winter 1992 couture show, while Nicole Kidman donned the feathered gown she wore in the 2004 Chanel No. 5 ad directed by Baz Luhrmann.  

Model and indigenous activist Quannah Chasinghorse used the event to showcase her heritage with handmade Dakota jewelry, but also wore a Prabal Gurung gown in pink, a color Lagerfeld notably dismissed. Actor Harvey Guillén and singer Lizzo garnered praise for attending the gala despite Lagerfeld’s vitriolic remarks about fat people. Actor and writer Michaela Coel wore custom Schiaparelli to the event, perhaps as a slight jab to Lagerfeld’s former house, considering Elsa Schiaparelli was a bitter rival to Coco Chanel.     

But those are subtle digs at Lagerfeld rather than open rejections, a sign that his contributions to fashion still outrank his discriminatory views. And he’s not alone in that assessment; while designers face increasing scrutiny for derogatory remarks, they don’t necessarily face long-term consequences. After being widely derided for their China scandal, Dolce & Gabbana recently found its way back onto high-profile red carpets via celebrity culture, and partnered with Kourtney Kardashian to outfit her and her family at her wedding to Travis Barker in 2022. 

The Met’s Karl Lagerfeld retrospective cements the designer’s legacy alongside previous honorees like Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo. But even as the event concluded, Lagerfeld’s larger-than-life persona is unlikely to fade anytime soon, nor will conversations about his cultural contributions — both positive and negative. 

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.

Middle East North Africa luxury

Why the Middle East Could Be Luxury’s ‘Next China’

Get your copy of “Is the Middle East the ‘Next China’ For Luxury Brands?” on our Reports page.

Luxury brands are no strangers to the Middle East market or clientele, with the region’s largely — but not entirely — oil-based wealth long attracting high-end automakers, fashion houses, jewelers, and hoteliers. The sprawling Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping centers, already counts tenants like Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Gucci, among dozens of other international luxury brands, while Riyadh’s Kingdom Centre Mall boasts the likes of Burberry, Chopard, and Valentino as well as a five-star Four Seasons hotel.

Yet the Middle East has remained largely overshadowed by the world’s largest luxury markets, such as China — which carved out a crucial position in luxury retail over the past 15 years and will account for 25 percent of global luxury market share by 2025. In LVMH’s full-year 2022 report, the Middle East is lumped together with South America and Africa in the “Other Markets” category, which collectively contributed to 12 percent of the luxury giant’s global revenue.

According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2023 report, the Middle East is forecast to be a significant driving force behind the global luxury fashion industry’s expected 5 to 10 percent growth this year. The report suggests that the Middle East could emerge as a new luxury hotspot, necessitating brands to increasingly tailor their designs, marketing, and merchandising to appeal to new customers.

Today, it could be a mistake for luxury brands and groups to maintain an almost all-encompassing interest in boosting their retail presence in mainland China to the detriment of other emerging markets — many of which also benefit from Chinese luxury demand by way of outbound tourists or internationally based immigrants and expatriates. 

Jing Daily’s latest flash report, “Is the Middle East the ‘Next China’ For Luxury Brands?” explores the potential growth opportunities for luxury brands in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market, which in the years ahead could take its place as the “Next China” for luxury brands in need of renewed growth in the post-COVID era. 

Boasting young, affluent populations and rising demand for global luxury brands, the Middle East is also attracting a growing number of Chinese tourists, expatriates and businesses amid strengthening ties between regional governments and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This makes the Middle East an even more attractive market for luxury brands and groups in search of new sources of growth.

This means a key question facing luxury brands will be whether and how to transplant — or adapt — China strategies honed over the past 15 years to the Middle East. They will also need to track how ties between MENA and China develop and evolve.

For example, should luxury brands take a global approach to expansion in the Middle East market, treating it like any other affluent region like Western Europe or North America? Or should they take a page from their China playbook and tailor designs, marketing, and merchandising to appeal to local tastes and preferences in the Middle East?

Get your copy of “Is the Middle East the ‘Next China’ For Luxury Brands?” on our Reports page.

Gucci Miu Miu brand events China

Brands Roll Out Big Events To Make Up For Lost Time In China

Following the easing of the pandemic and travel restrictions, brand activities in China have been gaining momentum, returning at a pace and scale unseen since 2019. 

As global leadership teams flocked to China throughout March and April, a series of events held by the likes of Chanel, L’Oréal, Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Bulgari culminated in successive large-scale activations by Miu Miu and Gucci, the latter of which saw the return of many international guests for the first time since the pandemic’s outbreak. We zoom in on some standouts of the past month.

Cultural odyssey with Miu Miu

Miu Miu whisked guests away to the scenic water town of Wuzhen, located 90 minutes outside of Shanghai, for a two-day affair held in celebration of Lila Avilés’ Eye Two Times Mouth, the 25th film in the Miu Miu Women’s Tales series. 

The event focused on communicating the culture of the brand by rooting it in the history of this unique town (chosen to mirror the waterways of Venice), where the region’s traditions have been painstakingly preserved. 

The Water Theater — where the film-screening and dinner party took place — is the central venue for Wuzhen’s annual Theater Festival, a suitable stage for the brand to reinforce its ties with the performing arts. With time to explore the 1,300-year-old town during the day, over 100 guests from the worlds of fashion and cinema came together at night for the screening, which was followed by a special live performance by singer Zhu Jingxi. 

“The experience was rather different because Miu Miu chose Wuzhen over large cities like Beijing, Guangzhou or Hangzhou; the key is that you understand what the brand is trying to say and can also experience local cultural traditions,” says Shanghai-based stylist Jeff Lee. “It’s great to see events gradually returning to China. Since the pandemic, we haven’t really been going to the cinema, and watching the film at night sitting outside in the spring weather was a very meaningful experience for many.”

The following day, Miu Miu further showcased its dedication to celebrating female perspectives by hosting a panel discussion entitled “A Woman’s Whole Universe” that was live-streamed. Panelists comprised independent film director Han Shuai, award-winning actress Ma Sichun and artist Peng Wei. 

“Everyone is happy and grateful to be back and doing the things they love,” says French-Chinese model Estelle Chen. “My favorite part was the discussion between the women and hearing them talk about their careers in a relatable and sincere way.”

Miu Miu hosted a panel discussion with actress Ma Sichun and Peng Wei. Photo: Miu Miu

Throughout the day, all the films in the Miu Miu Women’s Tales series were shown on loop in a neighboring theater, with students from neighbouring universities invited to attend. 

“The entire two days left me with an impression of powerful simplicity,” says 85-year-old actress and industry veteran Wu Yanshu. “The event wasn’t fussy, and it communicated the power of female stories with directness and authenticity.”

Gucci Archives

As the Miu Miu event drew to a close, guests made their way back to Shanghai the same evening for the opening of Gucci Cosmos, the first stop of a worldwide exhibition designed to highlight the house’s archival collections. 

Gucci Cosmos explores memorable designs from the house’s century-old archive. Photo: Gucci

“When we opened the Gucci archive in Florence in 2021 to celebrate our centennial, we immediately decided China would be the first global destination to bring this historic exhibit about the House and its heritage to life,” Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci, said in a statement. 

Bizzarri was present at the exhibition’s opening, along with other international attendees such as Thai actor/singer Billkin, Japanese supermodel Ai Tominaga, and guests including Bryanboy, Yoyo Cao and Susie Bubble (Susannna Lau) who all flew in for the event. They joined a long list of Chinese celebrities, including Gucci’s global brand ambassadors Chris Lee, Xiao Zhan, Lu Han and Ni Ni. 

Gucci ambassadors Luhan and Xiao Zhan visited the Gucci Cosmos exhibition. Photo: Gucci

Located in Shanghai’s West Bund Art Museum, Gucci Cosmos conceptualizes the history of the house through eight thematic worlds. The immersive experience was curated by Italian fashion critic Maria Luisa Frisa and designed by British contemporary artist Es Devlin. At a time when the brand is in-between creative directors, it was an important move for Gucci to reinforce its heritage in a market where its growth has slowed. 

With over 100 works on display, the exhibition traces back the brand’s 102-year-old history, bringing to life the experience of founder Guccio Gucci working as a porter at The Savoy Hotel in the late 19th century, an archive display of Gucci’s most iconic bags, and the ready-to-wear collections by Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele.

“I was thinking it was going to feel a little bit pared down, but the scope of the exhibition was so big, and the scenography was so ambitious and immersive, it was fitting that the party also had so many people in a big space,” says Susanna Lau. 

The opening was celebrated with a party in the venue featuring live performances from members of boy band Into1 and singer Lu Han. 

“It was good to get a feel of how brands are doing events in China right now,” Lau says. “Shanghai remains a super vibrant place to do activations in Asia and to get a temperature of what the market is like. I look forward to coming back soon.” 

More to come

The calendar for upcoming months shows no signs of slowing down as Fendi prepares to mount an exhibition in June and Bottega Veneta is set to stage a repeat show in July. Yet, as activations return to China in full force, it is more important than ever for brands to consider how to tailor-make and differentiate their event for this market. 

“The communication between brands and local culture is necessary,” Lee says. “Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales merged local cultural customs with the brand’s own identity in a seamless way. I would like to see more of these types of events happening in China.” 


May Day China Macau zibo

China’s May Day Holiday Reveals New Favorite Tourist Destinations

What Happened: China’s domestic tourists are back in full force, journeys undertaken over the May Day holiday show. A record high of 19 million domestic railway trips were made on the first day of the five-day Labor Day holiday, which ends on May 3, and the China State Railway Group expects 120 million domestic railway trips to be made between April 27 and May 4.

Beijing welcomed over 22 million visitors to its 60 key commercial areas, who drove spending on goods up 41.7 percent in the capital. Elsewhere, Hong Kong saw 760,000 visitors over the weekend, while Macau received more than 353,000 visitors from Saturday to Monday.

The Jing Take: The second long holiday since the country reopened its borders, this year’s May Day holiday saw Chinese consumer demand for travel and consumption surge. According to Alibaba Group’s online travel platform Fliggy, bookings for flights, accommodations, group travel items, and tickets to scenic spots surged 1,000 percent compared to the same period last year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. 

Local tourist spots continue to be popular. Macau, for example, ranked as the top destination for Chinese travelers within Asia from April 17 to May 7, with bookings up 11 percent from 2019 versus a 32 percent fall for trips to Hong Kong, according to travel firm ForwardKeys. The rush of visitors is a boon to the Portuguese city keen to diversify its economy beyond gambling.

Besides these traditional tourist hubs, lesser-known locations gained traction this holiday. In particular, Zibo, an industrial city in Shandong province, has blown up on social media for its affordable barbecue food and value-for-money experiences — big pull factors as the country’s youth battles historically high unemployment rates. Local authorities reported that May Day hotel bookings soared 800 percent from 2019.

Chinese tourists flock to Zibo, Shandong over the May Day holiday. Photo: Xiaohongshu

This isn’t to say that Chinese tourists aren’t interested in going abroad; in fact, bookings for international excursions on Fliggy hit an all-time high for Labor Day and more than tripled the previous record set during this year’s Spring Festival. However, international flight capacity continues to limit outbound travel — this also means that there is still much spending potential to be unlocked in China in the near future.

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.

line friends

Looney Tunes, Line Friends, And Clot x Aplasticplant: China Collabs Of The Week

While there aren’t any viral moves in China’s brand collaboration realm to report this week, the diversity of crossovers is newsworthy. 

In the homeware segment, incense favorite Yeenjoy joins Line Friends on playful burners made for Gen Z. Also tapping the younger demographic is 13DeMarzo’s Looney Tunes clothing collection.

For our verdict on these releases, along with Aplasticplant’s first major fashion collection with a Chinese label, check out the below. Subscribe here to receive Collabs & Drops newsletter updates straight to your inbox. 

Clot x Aplasticplant

clot x aplasticplant

Chinese streetwear leader Clot has become globally recognized as a king collaborator, so Aplasticplant’s choice is unsurprising. Photo: Clot

Date: April 28

Verdict: Known primarily as an anonymous Instagram account, curating cultural archives and boasting 448,000 followers, Aplasticplant is surrounded by a niche, loyal community. Therefore, it’s a great platform for Clot to connect with pop culture fanatics.

It’s the first big collaboration for Aplasticplant, which suggests it has plans to enter the streetwear end of fashion with clothing drops. In merchandise fashion, the ready-to-wear collection is made up of logo-stamped tees, hoodies, windbreakers, shorts, and pants.  

So far, the post on Aplasticplant‘s Instagram has attracted 19,328 likes, which is impressive engagement, and sentiment is 100 percent positive. On the other hand, Clot’s post has clocked up 1,631 likes, which implies that the brand’s consumerbase is not entirely familiar with Aplasticplant — though, this level of engagement could also show just how loyal and engaged Aplasticplant’s followers are.

Line Friends x Yeenjoy

line friends yeenjoy

One of the most popular IPs in Asia, Line Friends has collaborated with Yeenjoy on a collection of limited edition incense holders. Photo: Yeenjoy

Date: April 28

Verdict: South Korean Line Friends is the latest in a long list of brands like Adidas, Porsche, Staple, Clot, Stayreal, and Li-Ning to collaborate on Yeenjoy’s signature incense burners.

The combination of Asian influences, both traditional and contemporary, is an effective way to engage young local consumers who express growing national pride. It’s a solid bet for Yeenjoy, too, with Line Friends boasting a global fan base. 

Yet, above all, China’s fanbase is the leading component of the South Korean brand’s target consumer segment, making this collaboration a gateway for it into trendy Chinese homes. The fact that the brands’ have decided to make just 140 pieces makes this an immediate collector’s item, boosting the cultural capital created on both sides of the partnership.

13DeMarzo x Looney Tunes

Date: May 12

Verdict: Shanghai-based, Spanish-Chinese label 13DeMarzo is leveraging the popularity of nostalgic IP for a capsule collection. Three-dimensional teddy bear detailing is one of the brand’s biggest trademark designs, and this Looney Tunes collab extends the playful brand identity that consumers are familiar with.

Those 3D signatures are present in the collection, too. T-shirts feature Bugs Bunny plush toys hanging off them — a wonderful example of how to combine personal codes in a fashion collaboration. 

Seeing as 13DeMarzo has just 13,000 fans on Weibo, it’s still considered an emerging name in the local market. In contrast, Looney Tunes is one of the most world-famous IPs in the cartoon-sphere. 

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Scotch & Soda, Moschino and MCM, 13DeMarzo is not the first, nor will likely be the last, to team up with this valuable franchise.

Gucci China brands first quarter

April Earnings: Kering Lags LVMH As BYD Boasts Fivefold Profit Growth

Brands have yet to fully reap the benefits of China’s borders reopening in the first quarter of 2023. As such, those who fared well during the pandemic are continuing to do so, while those that struggled are now modestly recovering — very modestly in the case of Gucci — as the country eases back into normalcy.

Meanwhile, L’Oréal and Chinese electric car maker BYD are consolidating their position as leaders of their respective fields. Both are expanding rapidly in China and around the world through acquisitions and launching sub-brands, building out their consumer base and diversifying their geographic footprint.

Kering lags luxury peers

Unlike luxury rivals LVMH and Hermès, which posted stellar Q1 2023 YoY sales growth of 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively, Kering had a flat first quarter. In the period ended March 31, sales at the French luxury group rose just 1 percent to $5.6 billion (5.08 billion euros) due to a decline in North America and a gradual recovery in China.

Organic sales at Gucci climbed 1 percent, an improvement on the 14 percent decline in 4Q 2022. On a call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Duplaix said Gucci will focus on reinforcing its structure in China, elevating its brand perception and enhancing the retail experience.

Gucci’s Year of the Rabbit capsule collection features ready-to-wear, bags, shoes, and accessories. Photo: Gucci

“We know that the brand had been quite weak compared to some peers,” Duplaix said. “It’s a work in progress, but we start to see some encouraging signs across the different stores.”

Although performance so far has been mixed, the company has made some major moves that could put it on an upward trajectory. In January, Kering appointed Sabato de Sarno as Gucci’s new creative director, a designer who is tasked with ushering in exciting changes following the exit of his predecessor, Alessandro Michele. The following month, the group announced the creation of a new beauty division, which could help it narrow the gap (if ever so slightly) with LVMH, an established player in the beauty segment. 

L’Oréal benefits from balanced footprint

Another giant in the beauty segment, L’Oréal outperformed, posting sales of $11.5 billion (10.38 billion euros), up 13 percent YoY. Not only did the owner of Maybelline New York and CeraVe report growth across all its divisions, it also posted double-digit growth across all the regions it operates in, except for North Asia due to a reduction of stock-in-trade in mainland China at the very beginning of the year.

According to L’Oréal, Chinese consumer demand for beauty recovered in February, as did footfall in its brick-and-mortar stores. Moreover, the group benefited from the gradual resumption of travel to Hong Kong, Macau, and Hainan, with consumers flocking to the latter for the annual China International Consumer Products Expo earlier this month. Prior to this, the L’Oréal Paris brand presented an art exhibition in Shanghai as part of its brand elevation strategy.

L’Oréal CEO Nicolas Hieronimus said in a statement: “This performance, which has yet to benefit from China’s reopening, demonstrates the strength of L’Oréal’s balanced multipolar model.” 

This recovery, plus L’Oréal’s recent acquisition of Australian luxury beauty brand Aesop, which has a nascent footprint in China, leaves plenty in the tank for sales and profit growth this year.

BYD profit surges

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) company BYD posted a fivefold increase in profit in Q1, amounting to $596.5 million (4.13 billion RMB) — an impressive increase of 410.9 percent. Revenue climbed 80 percent to $17.3 billion (120.17 billion RMB). The Shenzhen-based company delivered 552,076 vehicles and reportedly outsold rival Vokswagen, consolidating its leadership in its home market.

These stellar metrics follow profit and revenue declines in Q4 2022, triggered by a price war with Tesla. Still, the Chinese car manufacturer managed to overtake Tesla as the world’s top seller of EVs in 2022 and has since ramped up its competitiveness by debuting a new high-end sub-brand in January to expand into the premium car segment.

In January, BYD unveiled a luxury SUV and supercar to push further into the high-end segment. Photo: BYD

By unveiling a new model in April that’s about half the price of the cheapest EVs on the market, BYD should be able to defend its title as the world’s largest EV maker. Moreover, its plans to expand beyond China into Europe and Latin America could help the Chinese brand become a global name and steer the world towards an electric future.

Sandy Liang Salomon sneaker collabs

How Modern Sneakers Are Getting A Feminine Revamp

When New York City-based designer Sandy Liang entered the footwear arena last fall, she chose a style that mixed function and fantasy with a collection of square-toed ballet flats modeled on actual pointe shoes. 

“She’s a New York princess,” Liang told Harper’s Bazaar of her imagined clientele when the flats debuted at her Spring/Summer 2023 show. Fitting perfectly into the balletcore craze, Liang’s shoes sold out in just two days. 

But the Sandy Liang girl doesn’t just wear pink satin ballet flats, she also wears hiking shoes. Specifically, the Salomon XT-6, which have become a mainstay among the urban gorp core set thanks to their coveted colorways and rugged silhouette. 

At her Fall/Winter 2023 collection, Liang showcased a pastel pink and green pair of Salomons, which launched at Liang’s boutique and on her ecommerce site last week and will hit global retailers on May 5. Promotional images for the collab, which also includes a white take on the slip-on RX Moc 3.0, show models not in mountain-ready Patagonia or Arc’Teryx jackets, but wearing Liang’s preferred styles of pleated skirts, sheer ruffled tops and floral-printed socks.  

The Sandy Liang x Salomon sneakers come in a playful colorway of pink and green. Photo: Sandy Liang x Salomon

Feminine, preppy styles making waves 

The Sandy Liang x Salomon collaboration isn’t just a savvy mashup of one of the hottest fashion labels with a leading footwear brand of the moment, however. It’s also the latest in an emerging trend of collabs that blend the typically male-dominated sneaker market with traditionally feminine and preppy styles. 

For the Spring/Summer 2022 season — yes the same collection that showcased that skirt — Miu Miu debuted a New Balance collaboration, which was revisited earlier this year. Last summer, Jacquemus took a break from micro purses and draped gowns to team up with Nike on strappy bodysuits and shocking pink Humaras, with a potential Jacquemus Air Force 1 teased on Instagram earlier this year. In May, Emily Oberg’s Sporty & Rich will release an Adidas Sambas collab featuring co-branding and a dangling pearl charm.


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A post shared by Nike (@nike)

“Today, more than 35 percent of StockX users are women, and we’re keen to see more sneaker brands collaborating and designing with women,” says Cynthia Lee, VP of merchandising at resale platform StockX. 

The rise of more feminine styles is a notable shift for a sneaker market that has frequently relegated women-centric releases to playing second fiddle. It’s also recognition that the sneaker market needs to evolve to keep pace with the dressier styles like quiet luxury and loafers that are taking over fashion. 

“I think the ‘preppy’ and ‘trail’ trends play very well together. We predicted both of these styles would be big in 2023, and [the Sandy Liang x Salomon] collaboration has elements of both,” added Lee. In 2022, StockX expanded its shoe section to non-sneaker styles, and she noted that Prada loafers have been trending in recent months.     

Salomon also had a particularly strong year on the resale platform, Lee added. The shoe company was the fastest-growing sneaker brand on StockX in 2022. But preppier silhouettes like Adidas’ Sambas and Gazelles have lately emerged as some of the hottest styles going into 2023, overtaking the chunky dad sneakers and technical styles that dominated the market over the past few years. This has made them attractive targets for high-profile collabs, like the expanding crop of Gucci’s colorful Gazelles, the upcoming rainbow-drenched Sambas from Pharrell’s Humanrace line, or Grace Wales Bonner’s latest Adidas partnership featuring silver Sambas.   

The Adidas x Gucci collection presents the Gazelle and ZX 8000 sneakers in a vibrant palette. Photo: Gucci

The Sandy Liang collab offers Salomon an attractive middle ground to remain true to its hiking roots while also speaking to a ballet flat-loving audience. But the collaboration isn’t just useful for Salomon to keep its hiking shoes up to date with the latest trends, it’s also an opportunity for Sandy Liang to raise its global profile. 

The brand, which runs a boutique on the Lower East Side’s Orchard Street, has been a fixture of the downtown New York fashion scene for years. It’s stocked at global retailers like End and Net-a-Porter. But Liang, who was raised in Queens in a Chinese-American family, has a relatively quiet presence in China. 

Though stocked at curated boutiques like Sanlipop in Beijing and Assemble by Réel in Shanghai, the brand is absent from major e-commerce or social media platforms in China, such as Taobao, Tmall, WeChat, or Weibo. The hashtag #SANDYLIANG# however has 1.61 million views on the social media network Xiaohongshu, with the most popular posts referencing the Salomon collab and asking if it will be available in China. 

Shifting sneaker markets

The sneaker world has traditionally been one of the few corners of fashion dominated by straight men, to the point that it has been frequently criticized for excluding women and fostering misogyny. It will take more than a handful of collaborations with women designers to alter that culture, but if recent collaborations are anything to go by, sneakers featuring pastels, pinks, and pearls can garner just as much hype as more traditionally masculine styles. And sneakers will need to cross over into new styles should they wish to appeal to a Gen Z audience that is increasingly less concerned with strict gender binaries in fashion.  

That isn’t to say sneakers are going away anytime soon.

“Sneakers will always carry value beyond their functional use,” says Lee. “They are cultural conduits that make people feel connected to their favorite brands, movies, and celebrities.” 

Nonstop collaborations have resulted in a saturated market place, but there are still avenues for brands to pursue via unexpected partnerships to showcase a fresh perspective. How else could you showcase a New York princess who enjoys a good hike but with a Sandy Liang x Salomon collab?  



Squid Games, Seoul, And Stars: Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2023 In South Korea

On April 29, traffic over Seoul’s Jamsugyo Bridge on the Hangang river was halted for 24 hours. Guests from all over the world huddled along the thoroughfare in the blustery wind, setting a dramatic backdrop for the cinematic masterpiece that was Louis Vuitton’s Pre-Fall 2023 collection.

While it was the second time Louis Vuitton had held a show in Seoul — it presented womenswear there in 2019 — it was the maison’s first runway to be uniquely created for South Korea. 

The event represented the luxury house’s signing of a strategic partnership agreement (MOU) with Seoul Metropolitan City and the Korea Tourism Organization. As part of this, Louis Vuitton plans to support the Hangang River, aiding its biodiversity, as well as including it in its City Guide, installing a book kiosk at the Jamsugyo Bridge Walking Festival. Consumers can expect to see several projects coming up in Seoul, as a result of the partnership.

These localization efforts are hardly surprising — in 2022, the French label achieved record sales in the country. LVMH announced earlier this month that the brand’s sales in South Korea expanded 15 percent year on year in 2022 to 1.69 trillion won ($1.2 billion).

Furthermore, they also reflect the importance the brand attaches to its wider Asian consumer base. 

Squid Games actress Hoyeon opened the Seoul show. Photo: Louis Vuitton

Squid Games star and supermodel Hoyeon opened the Seoul show. Photo: Louis Vuitton

With scenography by the luxury house’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, created in collaboration with Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk, the event was live-streamed globally, and shown around Seoul on big LED screens. The show’s eerily powerful soundtrack felt like it had come straight out of Hwang’s hit Netflix show. 

The finale unfolded against the backdrop of the bridge’s trademark fountain display, which produces a waterfall-like cascade of water along the bridge’s length, with models returning down the 795m-long runway. As for the collection, a sturdy urban aesthetic prevailed. Hemlines are short, colors are vibrant, belts are oversized, and silhouettes are unapologetically accentuated.

jaden smith

Jaden Smith sits front row prior to his performance at the after party, alongside celebrity guests. Photo: Louis Vuitton

“This collection features sharp and precise tailoring, making it both stylish and extremely practical,” influencer attendee Yi Mengling told Jing Daily. “The models on the runway exuded a sense of power and confidence, so it feels that the collection was designed for strong, independent women.”

Casting included mega-key opinion leader (KOL), Squid Games actress and model Jung Hoyeon, who boasts 22 million followers on Instagram, as well as rising French music artist Lou and the Yazuka, the stage name of Marie-Pierra Kakoma. It was Jung’s opening look of an electric blue bomber, clunky black boots, and a belted skirt that was lauded the most by Chinese KOLs during post-show interviews with Jing Daily

The designs felt like they were made for “modern and powerful women,” said influencer Anny Fan, who especially liked the jacket.

China’s Gong Linxuan said: “The collection was created for people who like pioneering culture, and who have a youthful heart.” 

Local KOL Thomas Ye, aka Gogoboi attends the Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2023 show. Photo: Louis Vuitton

The show appeared tailor-made for Gen Z, with statement pieces conveying that nonchalant confidence of youth. Louis Vuitton’s pre-fall 2023 collection is “for girls [and boys] who want to be strong, chic warriors,” said fashion blogger Gogoboi.

A post-show consensus emerged interpreting the theme as empowerment, which was presented with an element of accessibility. Louis Vuitton wants everyone to feel ready to conquer everything life throws at them — judging by the strong wind, whatever the weather.

smaller brands

How Smaller Luxury Brands Can Win In Today’s Reality

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group, was the first European company to surpass a $500 billion market capitalization recently. Some of its leading brands have reported growth rates between 10 percent and 20 percent, despite their size.

Similarly, Hermès hit a 200 billion euro market value earlier this month, making it the eighth-most valuable company on the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index. In fact, many of the other top 10 luxury brands are breaking one record after another.

While the best brands are incredibly successful and create enormous desirability, others are seeing different results. This is especially the case for larger brands that are somewhat “in the middle” — hence “premium” rather than “luxury” — as well as many smaller brands. Their revenues are stagnating or declining, putting enormous pressure on their profitability. 

The gap between the top 10 and the others is accelerating at a rapid rate, giving many managers significant headaches on what to do. This raises the question of if, in today’s fiercely competitive luxury market, there is a space for smaller brands to grow profitably and create significant desirability.

In my opinion, these “David” (versus “Goliath”) brands have the unique opportunity to rewrite the luxury narrative by adopting innovative strategies that cater to the ever-evolving consumer landscape. To successfully navigate this world, smaller luxury brands must adopt a growth mindset and leverage their agility to create distinctive value propositions. A clear, emotional, and distinct brand story is the core foundation for them to be successful. 

In my observation, creating a brand’s core value creation model is where too many companies cut corners. They save at the wrong end and then are surprised when their results are underwhelming, to say the least. 

When I audit brands, the lack of brand storytelling is the number one reason for so many brand failures. Most brands are too generic, state the obvious, or just focus on “quality,” “craftsmanship,” “materials,” and excellence. What they forget is that all of the above is what today’s luxury clients expect. A different approach is needed.

Here are some key strategies brands should employ to keep up with the leaders:

Hone your focus on solving problems and creating memories

Smaller luxury brands can build a strong, loyal customer base by zeroing in on a very specific narrative that addresses real consumer insights. Identifying a target market with specific preferences and addressing their unmet needs will set them apart from the Goliaths of luxury. Catering to these discerning consumers with exclusive, tailored offerings and, importantly, solving real problems for them while creating a significant emotional response will not only build brand loyalty but also establish them as experts in their respective domains. 

The name of the game is maximum client-centricity, where every interaction should create a memory. Most underperforming brands that we analyze lack focus and try to appeal to everyone. As a result, they appeal to no one and become indistinguishable and self-centered. A lack of profile, distinctiveness, and client-focus often seals the fate of brands.

Drive digital innovation to create extreme value

Digital mastery offers smaller brands the opportunity to level the playing field by implementing cutting-edge technologies and building digital communities. They must invest in building a seamless digital experience that aligns with their brand values and supports the customer journey. From AI-driven personalization to real-time social sentiment analysis, smaller brands must explore innovative ways to engage consumers and create a luxurious experience that seamlessly integrates online and in-store experiences. 

Amorepacific’s Authentic Color Master by Tonework uses AI algorithms to analyze 3,448 areas of the face to recommend an optimal makeup color. Photo: Amorepacific

Foster authentic storytelling

To resonate with today’s consumers, smaller luxury brands must craft authentic and emotionally compelling brand narratives. Harnessing the power of storytelling allows them to create meaningful connections with their audience and differentiate themselves from the competition. Instead of reiterating heritage, craftsmanship, and quality, emotional client-centric storytelling is the precondition to inspire consumers. According to Équité Research, more than 90 percent of brands today lack a value-creating, authentic, and distinct story that creates desirability. 

Implement bold creativity and experiential marketing

Experiences and culturally relevant moments are the new currency of luxury. Smaller brands should leverage experiential marketing to create memorable moments that engage and delight their customers. By offering personalized, immersive experiences in the form of pop-up stores or exclusive events, they can foster emotional connections and cultivate long-term loyalty. The key is not to do what everyone else is doing, but to create experiences that express the brand story and inspire clients through bold creativity. 

Valentino theater sleep no more

Valentino partnered with Sleep No More on an immersive theater production in Shanghai, allowing guests to experience its Spring 2023 collection in a new light. Photo: Valentino

Embrace sustainability and social responsibility

To create cultural capital, sustainability and social responsibility are critical. Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency and ethical practices from luxury brands. However, just practicing lip service is not enough. The question brands should ask themselves is, how can we create a lasting competitive advantage?

In conclusion, smaller luxury brands can catch up with the leaders by being authentic and distinct in their brand storytelling, implementing experiential marketing, and making sustainability a competitive advantage. By leveraging their agility and embracing a growth mindset, these brands can disrupt the status quo and establish themselves as formidable contenders in the luxury market. 

As the CEO of a successful niche luxury brand recently told me, “Our biggest advantage is that our competitors are much bigger. It makes them slow and complacent. It distracts them from being client centric. We take advantage of that.”

This is an opinion piece where all views expressed belong to the author.

Named one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch,” Daniel Langer is the CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults many of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several best-selling luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses on the future of luxury, disruption, and the luxury metaverse in Europe, the USA, and Asia.

Follow him: LinkedIn:, Instagram: @equitebrands /@thedaniellanger

Sotheby’s Wine Head Joins NFT Marketplace: Will Other Luxury Veterans Follow Suit?

This article originally appeared on our sister site Jing Culture & Crypto.

As the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continues to expand, with more and more industries embracing the technology, it’s no surprise that the art and auction worlds are also getting in on the action. Sotheby’s, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious auction houses, has seen its head of wine and spirits team, Jamie Ritchie, jump ship to join BlockBar, the first direct-to-consumer NFT marketplace for wines and spirits.

This move is not just an interesting career change for Ritchie but also highlights the growing importance of Web3 and blockchain technology to the secondary market of luxury bottles. 

BlockBar‘s unique business model, which simplifies the purchase process and guarantees the authenticity of each bottle, has already attracted exclusive partnerships with luxury brand owners such as Moët Hennessy, Diageo, Rémy Cointreau, and Bacardi.

Ritchie, who spent 32 years at Sotheby’s, has built a reputation as an authority on wines and spirits and a leading auctioneer. During his time at the auction house, he launched Sotheby’s wine auctions in New York, Hong Kong, and France, and established the spirits category. He also holds the records for selling the most expensive bottles of both wine and spirits, and Sotheby’s wine and spirits auction revenue rose to $132 million under his leadership.

BlockBar’s co-founder and CEO, Dov Falic, expressed his excitement at Ritchie joining the company, calling it a “testament to the company’s business model.” He noted that “more people than ever are purchasing liquid assets, both for consuming with friends and for investment,” and that BlockBar’s platform simplifies the purchase process.

While Jamie Ritchie’s move to BlockBar highlights growing interest in NFTs and blockchain technology in the luxury market, it remains to be seen whether other industry veterans will follow suit. The frenzied excitement in the tech community and consumers about NFTs has cooled since the heady days of 2021, and with the zeitgeist shifting towards generative artificial intelligence (AI), it’s uncertain whether enthusiasm in NFTs will remain on the wane.

However, with more companies like BlockBar offering simplified purchase processes and authenticity guarantees, it’s clear that the Web3 revolution is still a force to be reckoned with in the luxury market.

Pharrell’s NFT Pop-Up, Balenciaga’s AR WeChat Game & More: Web3 Drops Of The Week

It may have taken a few months, but brands in Web3 have finally found their groove ahead of 2023’s second quarter. 

This week, Web3 fashion label Mntge dropped its widely anticipated physical collection, which received rave reviews after selling out in 24 hours. Pharrell Williams also brought his creative and collaborative visions to life through an offline pop-up experience, which saw the NFT collective Doodles team up with the artist’s streetwear label BBC Icecream.

In China, Balenciaga is exploring new avenues across the mainland’s online ecosystem by launching a WeChat mini-game as part of its 520 campaign. The augmented reality-powered experience is one of many taking over the country right now, as its new technological phase continues on a steady growth trajectory.

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Mntge’s “Fruits & Veggies” collection sold out in 24 hours. Photo: Mntge

Mntge Brings Its Vintage Fashion Vision To Web3 With NFC-Connected “Fruits & Veggies” Drop

What Happened: Web3 vintage apparel label Mntge dropped its first physical product collection on April 26, featuring a limited-edition series of custom, tech-enabled vintage denim and graphic tees. The “Fruits & Veggies” collection includes a number of specially sourced pieces, including one-of-one Levi’s 505s that were embroidered in Los Angeles in a pattern designed by Mntge’s co-founder Sean Wotherspoon. Each product is NFC-chipped and connected to a one-of-a-kind numbered, collectible denim art token, which can be accessed via a digital wallet.

Celebrating the history and heritage of true vintage garments, the collection included a number of branded graphic T-shirts ranging from the 1960s to 2000s, which were made available following the initial denim drop. Buyers could purchase the items via Mntge’s dedicated marketplace, priced at $200 for Mntge Passholders and $250 for non-passholders.

The Verdict: With the vintage and archive fashion market booming offline, Mntge is unlocking a new purview for the virtual sector. Thanks to its unique perspective on approaching luxury in Web3, the brand has garnered attention from tech enthusiasts and others.

Response to the first physical collection has been largely positive, selling out in less than 24 hours. The only criticism has been that the variety of sizes available wasn’t enough to cater to every interested investor. Yet even those who didn’t manage to cop a piece were impressed by the platform’s seamlessness.

As far as debut launches go, Web3 startups have often had to contend with clunky checkout processes and rookie communication errors, but Mntge’s has set the standard high for itself and future competitors. 

Balenciaga released an AR-powered WeChat game ahead of China’s 520 Valentine’s Day. Photo: WeChat

Balenciaga Taps Augmented Reality In 520-Themed WeChat Mini-Game

What Happened: Balenciaga has unveiled a creative campaign for its 520 limited edition collection, featuring both video and print works by photographer Andrea Artemisio. In addition, the brand has launched an augmented reality-powered mini-game on its official WeChat account. Players enter a virtual world as farmers wearing items from the 520 collection and learn about regenerative agriculture to complete tasks, which can earn them limited edition stickers, wallpapers, and wish cards.

Balenciaga is on a mission to bolster its reputation. While the Parisian label looked to the past for its Fall 2023 physical collection, it’s harnessing next-generation tech trends like AR to build its virtual identity and propel it into the mainland’s spotlight.

The Verdict: Capitalizing on China’s holiday seasons to unlock the spending power of local consumers is nothing new. Brands and retailers want in on the benefits. To differentiate themselves from the competition, some labels are opting to launch their campaigns via the Chinaverse and other digital avenues. Li-Ning is generating buzz by developing a metaverse love story for the upcoming event, while Prada raffled off 20 limited-edition digital collectibles to select Tmall Luxury Pavilion shoppers in February for the Lunar New Year.

Balenciaga’s latest move also taps the gamification trend, which continues to captivate netizens countrywide. In addition to providing instant gratification to users who complete activities and receive rewards, the mini game serves as a way to educate consumers on the brand’s agricultural strategies.

Pharrell Williams merged his work at Doodles and streetwear label BBC Icecream during Something In The Water festival this week. Photo: Doodles

Pharrell Williams Merges Doodles NFT Project With Streetwear Heavyweight BBC Icecream In New Offline Pop-Up Experience 

What Happened: For Pharrell’s first IRL moment as the Chief Brand Officer of Doodles, the NFT label partnered with the multi-hyphenate’s streetwear brand BBC Icecream on a curated pop-up experience, which took place during the Something in the Water festival at Virginia Beach in the US this week.

The pop-up, dubbed “Doodle Beach,” featured an exclusive joint collection from Doodles and BBC Icecream, comprising a variety of T-shirts, hats, shorts, skateboards and towels.

Visitors were able to enjoy free ice cream, receive a sneak peak of new digital wearables in the Doodles universe, and shop the exclusive BBC Icecream x Doodles collection at the on-site ShopDoodles kiosk. A portion of the sales went to Williams’ non-profit organization Yellow, which provides resources and toolkits to help close the educational divide.

The Verdict: With Web3 hype sobering, this year has seen a resounding push to bring online communities together through offline experiences. For NFT.NYC, a number of brands including Adidas and Gmoney pivoted their focus to curating physical meet-ups, in hopes of making as much of an impact in the physical world as they have in the digital. 

In Pharrell’s case, bringing Doodles and BBC Icecream together feels like an organic coalescence, with the creative exploring new possibilities of pushing his artistic and commercial boundaries. Moreover, hosting the experience at the Something In The Water festival, which generated 50,000 attendees last year, is likely to encourage more non-Web3 natives to engage with Doodles and contribute to the project’s mainstream growth.