3 Tips from a Tod’s KOL Collaboration That Proved a Huge Hit with China’s ‘Bagfans’

What:

What started out as a request to have Tao Liang, China’s leading influencer in the world of handbags, design one D Bag for Tod’s turned into a 200-piece capsule collection that went on sale on WeChat and Tod’s online shop. Tao, better known as Mr. Bags, has worked with a growing list of luxury brands on launching exclusive bag collections for his 700,000 WeChat and 2.97 million Weibo followers (whom he calls ‘bagfans’), but his Tod’s partnership was the most extensive. Mr. Bags played a major role in designing the entire collection, which included 60 Sella bags, 60 Double Ts, and 80 of the Wave style bag.

For Mr. Bags, this opportunity to work with Tod’s was a personal one. Not only did the collaboration occur on his birthday, but he says that Tod’s Gomminos were the first pair of luxury shoes he bought for himself when he was 17 years old.

Mr. Bags displays photos of his Tod's Wave and Sella bag designs for his fans. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

Mr. Bags displays photos of his Tod’s Wave and Sella bag designs for his fans. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

High Points:

Although Mr. Bags’ more youthful, playful style is much different from Tod’s classic designs, the brand was open to his suggestions for using shades of blue through the entire collection and a lot of leather stitching, which he said is one of his favorite Tod’s elements. He also highly encouraged the brand to include a dice-shaped bag charm referencing the iconic Gomminos dots and representing good luck.

Mr. Bags said he encouraged Tod's to include a dice charm with the collection. Here he displays it on the Sella bag. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

Mr. Bags said he encouraged Tod’s to include a dice charm with the collection. Here he displays it on the Sella bag. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

The styles clearly resonated with his followers—the 80 Wave backpacks, which cost a little more than Tod’s regular bags in mainland China, sold out in five minutes. The entire collection of 200 bags sold out in 24 hours.

How it works:

Tod’s released three short videos to debut the different handbag styles and show followers behind-the-scenes shots on how Mr. Bags worked on the project. The campaign also featured Chinese actress Liu Shishi and musician Ou-Yang Nana as bag models.

The bags were sold online and on WeChat only—customers couldn’t buy the bags in Tod’s brick-and-mortar stores, a factor Mr. Bags says he would consider changing next time because he received so many requests from his followers wanting to buy the bags at at Tod’s boutique.

The Wave backpack features the signature Tod's leather stitching prominently alongside various shades of blue. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

The Wave backpack features the signature Tod’s leather stitching prominently alongside various shades of blue. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

Tips:

1. Find out exactly what your customers want: Mr. Bags did research on Weibo and WeChat and found out that his posts featuring blue bags are the ones that receive the most likes and comments.

Even the lining of the bags are blue. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Bags

2. The right product will sell on its own: “For our exclusive collections, we do not really need to push them too hard,” Mr. Bags says. “The bags we create speak for themselves. I have very high standards when we select the brands to work with, and I have such confidence that these bags do not need any sort of hard push.”

3. A KOL’s followers are about quality, not quantity: Mr. Bags says he believes his online reach is growing because he is very strict about his content. “Unlike most Chinese bloggers whose blogs are filled with celebrity looks and fashion events, my WeChat articles focus tightly on handbags and shoes,” he said.

“It’s also never an option to work with inappropriate brands merely for money. The brands we work with are all internationally known luxury brands because those brands are what our followers love to read about. That’s why we’re accumulating bagfans with very high purchasing power instead of just aiming towards a large number of followers.”

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