There might not have been any meteoric blockbuster moves on China’s brand collaboration scene this week, but there was a great range of smaller product categories, from sunglasses and plant brands combining forces, to independent jewelry disruptor Yvmin continuing its partnership with Shanghai clothing brand Shushu/Tong.
These collaborations might not have broken through online noise among viral moments — such as Daniel Lee’s Burberry debut at London Fashion Week — but, they do provide some lessons in how smaller, low-engagement collaborations can sow the seed for longevity and connection to niche subcultures in China.
Exemplifying those lessons, painter and illustrator Lucas Beaufort continues to engage with the China market, feeding his fanbase by working with Wow!Dragon on its first ever artist collaboration.
For our take on the aforementioned releases of the week, check out our verdict below. Subscribe here to receive the weekly Collabs & Drops newsletter straight to your inbox.
Yvmin x Shushu/Tong
Date: Spring 2023
Verdict: Artistic local jewelry brand Yvmin helped accessorize the Pretty Woman Spring 2023 collection that was showcased at Shanghai Fashion Week. The two names are becoming familiar collaborators having previously launched a collection, sold internationally via luxury multi-brand retailer Ssense, together.
Out of the growing list of independent Chinese designers who have a presence in London, Shushu/Tong is one that has managed to attain a fan base across the mainland, too. It’s regularly featured in outfit posts across Xiaohongshu, with some gaining thousands of likes, helped by the fact that in January it was shown worn in a post by Blackpink’s Jisoo.
Currently, Shushu/Tong’s official hashtag on Xiaohongshu has 4 million views, and Yvmin has 2.5 million views. The independent jewelry brand is similarly benefitting from a particularly localized strategy – it has worked with Beijing’s Marrknull, the brand of Tim Shi and Mark Wang. As a conceptual jewelry brand, Yvmin’s designs translate well into fashion collections.
A.Society x Plants Of Gods
Date: December 10 / Pop Up February 20
Verdict: Established in 2018, eyewear brand A.Society has managed to discover an interesting consumer-crossover with Hong Kong’s first root plant brand, Plants of Gods (POG). The two have launched a collection of handmade titanium plant pots.
As a stylish garden store selling root plants, cacti, and succulents imported from Madagascar, POG is made for the social media generation. In the same way, Gen-Z is one of A.Society’s core consumer bases.
The eyewear brand appears to have a stronger presence beyond China, though. The brand’s hashtag on Xiaohongshu has just 1,096 views, while on Instagram it boasts 13,400 followers, which is above average for a new sunglasses brand.
POG benefits from A.Society’s fashion positioning, as well as its retail space via the pop-up, located at Hong Kong Harbor City, that is currently in place and promoting this collaboration. On the other side of the collab, A.Society is able to extend its product categories in a way that consistently portrays its identity.
Wow!Dragon x Lucas Beaufort
Date: February 16
Verdict: This is artist Lucas Beaufort’s first ever art toy collaboration. It’s a clever foray into the realm of collectibles.
Sold exclusively via Lepop’s official platforms, the dragon figurines illustrate how artists can connect to the local market via toy collaborations. Seeing as this project lasts one month, the pieces are covetable, and collectors are showing interest in them.
Both parties benefit from the cultural capital created; this is the first artist series for Wow!Dragon, too, foreshadowing more to come.
In comparison to the Marsper art toy, which was released the same month, there hasn’t been any noise surrounding this collaboration. The Official LePop Weibo account attracted a miniscule 28 likes for its official post, compared to 8,940 on the previous Marsper project.
As Beaufort’s reach, 84,000 followers on Instagram and 4,220 on Xiaohongshu, is that of a micro influencer, it’s unsurprising that this has not gone viral. Small influencers have posted about the collaboration across Xiaohongshu, though likes average around 100, with minor engagement.
The collab is sure to contribute to Beaufort’s exposure in the mainland, but it’s unlikely to truly lift him off. It’ll be interesting to see whether this is a stepping stone for Wow!Dragon to release a blockbuster artist collaboration. Watch this space.