Coming amid news reports that Nike is doubling down on its womenswear offering in China, the brand has revealed an ornate basketball court for kids in Yunnan Province designed by Susan Fang.
The project features in this week’s Collabs & Drops newsletter, which analyzes how brands can authentically connect to a culture without a blockbuster campaign or sell-out drop.
In other news, Yvmin and Shushu/Tong continue their exquisite jewelry collection with a Qixi festival special. Plus Baggu and Chinese-American designer Sandy Liang create the most viral collaboration of the month, which left most fans extremely frustrated.
Read on for our verdict on those, and subscribe here to receive these updates straight to your inbox.
Yvmin x Shushu/Tong
Date: August 8
Product: Qixi festival limited gift box and parfait cup glass project
Social context: Yvmin’s dedicated Instagram post has 4,800-plus likes, while Shushu/Tong’s has generated 6,400 likes. Though former has 37,000 fans on Weibo and the latter 70,000, the post for this initiative has attracted just 80 likes. #yvmin has 5.8 million views on TikTok, and #shushutong has 11 million. On Xiahongshu, #ShushuTong has 18.6 million and #Yvmin has 5.6 million.
Verdict: Long-term collaborators Yvmin and Shushu/Tong merge well creatively, partly because of the shared aesthetic tastes of their consumer bases.
Since we analyzed both brands in February, Shushu/Tong’s Xiaohongshu hashtag has gained 7 million views, and Yvmin’s has increased by 3.3 million — their consistent collaborations have generated sustained attention in China and more widely.
Riding on one of China’s festivals that generates the most sales is a clever move.
Baggu x Sandy Liang
Date: August 8 + extended pre-order until August 17
Product: Bag collection
Social context: On TikTok, #bagguxsandyliang has 2.7 million views, #baggu has 183.4 million views and #sandyliang has 36.7million views. The collab has 286,000 followers on Instagram.
Verdict: The combination of two meteoric forces in Gen Z fashion has rocketed this collaboration to immediate internet virality. But, popularity comes with risks, as this drop shows.
Once it launched, consumers expressed more anger and frustration than pleasure because of how quickly the collection sold out. According to reports across social media, the whole stock had seemingly sold out before it even went on sale.
As a result, some pieces are appearing on resale sites like eBay and Depop for double their original retail price.
The collection might have proven the popularity of Upper East Side sample sale queen Sandy Liang and TikTok fav the affordable shopper Baggu, but the collaborators underestimated demand and consequently generated a backlash.
In attempt to redeem themselves, the collaboration has extended sales with consumers able to pre-order on Baggu’s website until August 17.
Susan Fang x Nike
Date: August 14
Product: Eco-friendly basketball court at Gucheng Elementary school in Yunnan Province
Social context: Susan Fang has 105,000 followers on Weibo, and 57,200 on Instagram. On Weibo #susan fang# has 2.743 million reads.
Verdict: This marks the first time that independent designer Susan Fang has collaborated with Nike under her eponymous label.
Designing a court shows the versatility of Fang’s creativity, including her ability to translate her sustainability ethos into something totally different from fashion or accessories. Arriving amid the Women’s World Cup, it is the ultimate time to be supporting young women in China to play football.
Due to the rise of domestic sports brands such as Li-Ning and Anta, Nike has had to amp up its focus on connecting to its crucial Chinese consumer base. Working with one of the mainland’s most well-known designers-of-the-moment is an effective way to do just that.
As this project has not prioritized a blockbuster social media campaign due to being more driven to support the community, it reflects a more localized strategy to authentically reach consumers in China. Oftentimes smaller, more personal activations can contribute best to long-term cultural relationships.