Chinese luxury fashion bloggers have taken their hustles to new heights in the past year, bringing a basic social media presence on WeChat and Weibo into the cross-border e-commerce realm and even becoming designers themselves. The Chiara Ferragni model, one in which a fashion line becomes a major source of income for bloggers, is now being tested out by China’s influencer maven Becky Li, who launched a basics collection for her approximately five million followers across social media accounts on Tuesday (December 19).
It sold out in just three hours.
Li has built her massive fan base through selling a lifestyle of luxury on her blog Becky’s Fantasy, working with brands like MINI and Rebecca Minkoff and achieving impressive conversion rates. In one Singles’ Day presale of exclusive Rebecca Minkoff handbags, Li sold out of 1,000 pieces in two days, leaving her team with very few products left to sell during the actual day of the promotion.
But Li quickly recognized that her female followers needed something more than high-end handbags. They wanted to know where she got her basic, classic pieces that she wore in her blog posts.
“No matter what I recommend to my readers, the most frequently asked question I received was, “Where do I buy it?” Li told Jing Daily. “At first, I could hardly understand why they asked this because many of the products I introduced were part of a basics line or classic items, which seemed to be easy to purchase. But then I realized that most of my readers are busy working women, who have little time to go shopping. In contrast, I often go on business trips overseas, so I have much more time and am better positioned to go shopping and compare similar products in different boutiques.”
Her new collection is in line with her own style philosophy—“a wardrobe should be 70 percent basics and 30 percent trendy pieces”—and includes mock-neck cashmere sweaters using Todd & Duncan yarn, striped t-shirts, and wide-legged pants in black and white. Prices for the collection range from RMB 200 (about US$30) to RMB 1,800 to keep items accessible. Li said this is partly possible because she saves money on marketing as she’s launching her fashion line directly to already established followers.
She also has the advantage over a more traditional fashion designer that many online bloggers have when it comes to finding an audience for their brand: tribalism. “We have our own readers,” Li said. “They are a group of people who deeply acknowledge our aesthetic and lifestyle philosophy, so I believe they will also trust in my choices of brand positioning and quality.”
Quality basics brands the likes of Everlane or Hong Kong’s Grana are less common in mainland China, but Li says consumers are now at the stage where timeless wardrobe staples are becoming more of a priority.
“China has experienced progress from a lack of material resources to enrichment,” she said. “Years ago, people pursued fashion trends, but through education from magazines, fashion bloggers, We-media and other KOL channels, their perceptions have changed. People have started to pay attention to quality and personal expression. It poses a great opportunity for me.”
What does an independent fashion line mean for luxury brands still looking to benefit from Li’s sales prowess? Li says she’s confident the new collection will compliment her career as a luxury fashion blogger in that her pieces can easily be paired with high-end accessories. To ensure this, she’s painstakingly worked to create pieces where the quality is in line with what her fashion-forward followers would expect.
“I couldn’t help but be deeply involved in every part of the production process, and keep adjusting details,” Li said. “It led to an abnormally long time for our preparatory work. My friends told me, ‘Wow, you spent a whole year just for 100 items of clothing.’ ”