This month’s Chinese Designer Collabs column looks at the best China-related partnerships and drops transforming the retail landscape. From local fashion to C-beauty brands, virtual idols to NFTs, and KOLS to lifestyle and games, Jing Daily offers a curated selection of what is hot in the world of drops. The column will also feature in Jing Daily’s bi-weekly Collabs and Drops newsletter — a 360-degree lowdown on the world of collaborations. Here’s the roundup of China’s best collaborations in 2021.
For more of our 2021 end-of-year reviews, read here.
The Beauty/Fashion Trend: Estée Lauder and SHUSHU/TONG
The Estée Lauder x SHUSHU/TONG collaboration was a huge surprise to Chinese beauty and fashion enthusiasts, marking the first time a leading global beauty player has partnered with a homegrown fashion designer brand. The outcome: a limited-edition beauty gift box, celebrating the Qixi Festival and featuring Estée Lauder’s signature Double Wear BB cushion, an eyeshadow plate, and lipstick, along with the Shanghainese brand’s signature flower pattern. With over 6 million views on Weibo so far, the campaign hashtag #EstéeLauderQixiExclusive has actively engaged users, thanks to endorsements from beauty KOLs like @橙也Chen and @Janicekidd. The collaboration was a step up for the Shanghainese duo, and it elevated the beauty conglomerate among young Gen Z.
The Digital Trend: Stephy Fung and Glenfiddich
Digital fashion is clearly taking the world by storm. Glenfiddich — the world’s most awarded single malt whisky — partnered with the digital designer Stephanie Fung and launched a limited-edition NFT fashion collection. Named The Filigree Aesthetic, the NFTs were auctioned off at the NFT trading platform and creative hub Foundation, with proceeds going to an organization that helps and promotes young digital artists.
The groundbreaking collection was inspired by the art of The Grande Composition artist group (Mzukisi Mbane from South Africa, Malwina Konopacka from Poland, and David Aiu Servan-Schreiber from the UK). Glenfiddich’s partnership with an artist to convey the modern character of China was an unexpected highlight of 2021.
The Lifestyle Trend: NEIWAI and fashion KOL @SavisLook
In April, the homegrown lifestyle brand NEIWAI announced its partnership with the niche Chinese fashion KOL @SavisLook, who has four million Weibo fans. The capsule collection of dresses, lingerie, and accessories launched with a 15-second campaign teaser video (released by NEIWAI), along with a longer edition on @SavisLook’s Weibo. They received 14,700 and 61,000 views, respectively, within one day.
The lingerie disruptor is no stranger to collaborating with domestic brands and retailers. Through these crossovers, the brand not only expands consumer reach but also consolidates its relevance within local communities that have similar values. Similarly, @SavisLook also has a history of partnering with fashion names like Re/Done and C/MEO Collective. Today’s KOLs understand their followers well as they are these brands’ target customers. As user @YourKa said, “It’s such an exciting crossover between my beloved lingerie brand and fashion KOL.”
The Blind Box trend: Shang Xia and Pop Mart
September saw Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia release a series of limited-edition gift boxes in collaboration with the toymaker Pop Mart. This drop featured three sets, including a teaware set, a tea pet (a small figurine with auspicious metaphors), and portable Pu-erh tea. The three sets, ranging from 680 to 8999 yuan, were exclusively launched on Tmall.
Featuring one of Pop Mart’s most popular characters, Dimoo, the collaboration attracted substantial attention from netizens, especially fans of the toymaker. With its Chinese origins, luxury label Shang Xia exhibited a sound understanding of how to balance high and low culture. And although Pop Mart has been embroiled in past partner disputes, this unusual collaboration was an effective exploration of China’s blind box craze.
The Esports Trend: Perfect Dairy and Arena Of Valor
A Singles’ Day pairing with Arena Of Valor, a popular online game, continued the brand’s “beauty without limits” manifesto and saw it cleverly tap the mythology of the mobile game (whose popularity has now far transcended and surpassed the game itself). The lineup, inspired by the Chinese legend of Four Beauties, hit the jackpot by infusing local heritage with gaming, two driving forces for today’s younger audiences.
The announcement generated a combined 130,000 views across two platforms. Ye Chen, a research analyst at REACH24H Consulting Group and beauty expert, explained: “This cooperation was by far the most successful,” he said. “The crossover eye shadow palette achieved over 200,000 units monthly sales, and it was the most popular eye shadow palette on Tmall during the Double 11.”
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