Prada Wows with Local Market Takeover in Shanghai

The Social Edition is our weekly series which deep dives into luxury initiatives in China’s social media landscape. Every week, we highlight brand campaigns distributed on Chinese digital platforms — WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin, and beyond.

Our coverage spotlights global luxury brands, global beauty brands, and local Chinese brands. The latter gives insight into some of China’s most successful campaigns, which often come from local players, and are outside of the beauty and fashion space.

In this week’s roundup, we look at three campaigns, including Prada’s pop-up at a local market in Shanghai, Valentino’s collaboration with Sleep No More, and local fashion powerhouse ERDOS’ runway at a desert.

Prada Wows with Local Market Takeover in Shanghai

MEDIUM Offline Pop-up, Images

Prada launched a series of experimental initiatives in several Italian cities and others worldwide to promote its Fall/Winter 2021 campaign named Feels Like Prada. Rong Zhai, the brand’s social and cultural hub in Shanghai, and a fruit and vegetable market located in the Wulumuqi Road neighborhood of the city were transformed by Prada with its iconic codes and prints from the new collection. At the market, the most simple and essential foods have been wrapped with special Prada packaging. Both locations will be open from September 27 to October 10.

On Xiaohongshu, over 250 users posted about the Prada market in the 12 hours since it opened to the public. Visitors were highly impressed by this creative initiative that employs the identity of this everyday space, and local fashionistas holding vegetables or flowers with Prada packaging have become “Instagrammable” moments on social platforms.

Prada has been leveraging local cultures to escalate its connections with shoppers of various backgrounds for a while now. In China, fruit and vegetable markets are places where many older people shop. However, Prada’s unexpected takeover impressed local young audiences and drew many of them to visit this market and feel the brand vibrantly and emotionally.

Valentino Features New Collection in Shanghai Theatre Production

BRAND Valentino
MEDIUM Offline performance, Image

On September 28, Valentino presented Reborn In Dreams: a special show featuring its Fall/Winter 2021 Act Collection and celebrating the award-winning theatrical experience Sleep No More’s fifth anniversary. Together, the Italian house and Sleep No More Shanghai reinvented the troupe’s original version with an installation combining fashion, arts, and theater at the mysterious McKinnon Hotel playhouse in Shanghai, where the audience, consisting of fashion KOLs and insiders, was invited to engage with the show.

Though the dedicated show was not open to the general public, it generated immediate social buzz thanks to KOL posts on Weibo and Xiaohongshu. The campaign hashtag #ValentinoActCollection has reached over 150 million viewers as of publication, as netizens showed a strong interest in this unexpected crossover between fashion and theater.

Sleep No More Shanghai has been a favorite of young cultural consumers in China over recent years. And for Valentino, spotting a cultural product relevant to local shoppers helps the brand facilitate a greater emotional connection. Additionally, with the dancers dressing up in the latest Act Collection, the brand better contextualized its image for Chinese audiences.

ERDOS Presents Its Fall/Winter 2021 Runway Show in a Desert


PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Tmall
MEDIUM Image, Livestream
FEATURED TALENTS Liu Wen (26M Weibo Followers) | Hua Chenyu (39M) | Yuan Quan (3.7M) | Ma Long (8M) | Xiaoxue (5M) | Shaway Ye (4M)

On September 29, the homegrown fashion conglomerate ERDOS presented its Fall/Winter 2021 Collection at the Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia, where the company originated and where its cashmere is still sourced from. With the theme of “Sound For Celebration,” the show was dedicated to the company’s 40th anniversary, and ended with brand ambassador Liu Wen walking down the runway decked out entirely in red.

By highlighting Chinese cultural symbols — including the color red and local landscapes like the Kubuqi Desert — the show resonated greatly with local audiences. Many commented that they were moved by the event, which stirred up deeper emotional connections with the brand. Moreover, the campaign hashtag #SoundForCelebration received 76.55 million views within one day.

By staging the show in such a dramatic — yet local — destination, ERDOS’ dedication to its roots and culture shined through the presentation, which greatly impressed both invited guests and the vast audience who tuned in via livestream. From a “mother’s brand” to a leading player with five sub-lines, ERDOS has been on the right track to reinvigorate its brand image and win over today’s young shoppers.

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Is China’s Population Decline a Luxury Disaster?

What Happened: According to new research, previously estimated rates of China’s demographic decline might have been severely miscalculated. In fact, the country’s population could halve within the next 45 years, warns a new study from Xian Jiaotong University. This number was based on the official birth rate of 1.3 children per woman last year (well below the figure that would safeguard the population of two per woman). China’s current population is over 1.4 billion, and the 2019 United Nations projection that the country would still have around 1.3 billion people by 2065 now looks to be incorrect.

The Jing Take:  This population tail off was not unexpected, and this latest news has come amid efforts from Beijing to relax strict family planning policies by allowing couples to have more children. It has also introduced a series of campaigns to control property prices, reduce education costs, and increase the number of kindergartens. A recent clampdown on “non-medical” abortions was also announced, which likely dovetails with this issue.

However, there is resistance from China’s women, coming when their roles in Chinese society have been reassessed. There is unprecedented interest in the country’s version of the global #metoo movement and overthrowing outdated labels like “leftover women.”

Plus, according to new census data, China now has more seniors than young people for the first time, with the proportion of over-60s rising to over 18 percent (children make up about 17 percent of the population.) This news, therefore, will demand a radical rethink of everything from labor, health and education, technology, pensions policies, and care for the elderly.

While less pressure on natural resources and the environment means a shrinking population may have its benefits, its full impact on luxury remains to be seen. China accounts for 35 percent of global spending and is on track to become the biggest global luxury market by 2025. The sector is unlikely to feel any hit in the immediate short term, but with fewer people to sell to and a growing army of sophisticated local names on the horizon, many brands’ days are surely numbered.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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Juicy Couture’s New China Strategy Starts with STAFFONLY

Key Takeaways:

  • The range of American diner-inspired womenswear combines Juicy Couture’s glossy, bubblegum aesthetic with STAFFONLY’s off-kilter, artistic designs — a perfect merger for China’s Gen-Z luxury consumers.

  • Because Juicy Couture does not currently have an account on WeChat and has fewer followers than STAFFONLY on Weibo, gaining more relevance among China’s digitally engaged consumers is a clear benefit for the California brand.

  • In this collaboration, Juicy Couture upholds the all-American identity it became famous for while merging with local design talent rather than being inauthentically Chinese.

In the early 2000s, Juicy Couture’s velour and rhinestone-embellished tracksuits uniformed America’s most famous “it-girls,” cementing the now-26-year-old brand’s position within global popular culture. It has since relied on that reputation to thrive within the Asian market, never having collaborated with a Chinese label despite owning 15 stores in China, a partnership with the ImagineX Group (established in 2014), and a Greater China licensing deal with Semna, announced in 2019. But that has changed, with the Californian brand launching a womenswear collection with the Shanghai-based menswear label STAFFONLY on September 24.

Founded by university friends Shimo Zhou and Une Yea in 2015, STAFFONLY is most known for crafting contemporary cuts that contest the generic definition of masculinity via slightly avant-garde, tongue-in-cheek streetwear. The Semir Group’s corporate planning director & Juicy Couture brand director, WenYa Zhou, said the young Chinese brand’s willingness to break boundaries and seek inspiration from unexpected elements of everyday life inspired the collection.

“The collaboration with STAFFONLY is injecting a vibrant and creative energy into Juicy Couture and can support us in strategically reaching wider audiences in China,” said Zhou to Jing Daily on how Juicy Couture trusted STAFFONLY’s ability to produce a “new and playful” collection.

The collaborative range of American diner-inspired womenswear combines Juicy Couture’s glossy, bubblegum aesthetic with STAFFONLY’s off-kilter, artistic designs — a style that perfectly caters to China’s Gen-Z luxury consumers.

Juicy Couture x STAFFONLY

Because Juicy Couture does not currently have an account on WeChat and has fewer followers than STAFFONLY on Weibo, gaining increased relevance among China’s digitally engaged consumers is one of the clear benefits of this project for the Californian brand. And working with a progressive, local label to reach Chinese consumers has proven successful thus far, as 26-year-old fashion blogger Viola’s promotion of the collaboration on Weibo won thousands of likes and comments. Meanwhile, Juicy Couture’s post currently has under five likes and comments on Weibo.

In the process of trying to strengthen its presence in China, Juicy Couture upholds the all-American identity it became famous for while merging with local design talent rather than being inauthentically Chinese. As one-half of STAFFONLY, Shimo said, the collection combines the Juicy L.A. lifestyle and its own inspirations. “We especially thought about a California road trip and the typical retro diners we would encounter on this journey along with fictional narratives and design methodologies.”

The designers crafted witty twists on foods like sundaes, milkshakes, and strawberry tarts, diving into Juicy Couture’s world with a new perspective. “The collection was intended to be full of textures, expressing a youthful energy that could fit right into the new generation consumer’s wardrobe,” Shimo said. “We were really attracted by the imagination behind the word ‘JUICY’ itself and the enormous possibilities and meanings that could be developed from it. It means energetic, full of textures, youth, freshness, femininity, etc. STAFFONLY always aims to create work and stimulate curiosity based on interesting vocabularies.”

Having STAFFONLY reimagine Juicy Couture’s established image not only helps attract a new base of high-fashion consumers to the American brand, it also contributes to how China perceives it. Ultimately, consider it a public refresh of Juicy Couture’s California girl energy, infused with millennial Chinese identity. We can expect to see more of this collaboration method in place as Western brands evolve their connection to their Chinese consumers.

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How Is Luring Luxury Brands Back

Key Takeaways:

  • Even though the Double Eleven shopping festival and 618 shopping day ignite Chinese shopping frenzies, luxury brands have suffered from them due to being stuck in an “either-or” platform dilemma.

  • For brands that want to take advantage of China’s digital selling channels, Tmall or were always their best choices, thanks to built-in infrastructures that offer benefits ranging from internal ad priorities to homepage promotions.

  • hopes to become a more luxury-focused venue, with a new page that redirects consumers to brands’ official WeChat Mini Programs.

At the start of September, China issued rules to prevent monopolistic behavior from internet firms, which many consider a move for fairer e-commerce competition. In fact, companies breaking these market laws will be strictly controlled and supervised.

As such, there will no longer be the problem of “either Tmall or JD” that has hindered luxury brand expansion in China. This change is a significant step for brands that want to choose platforms for future sales and campaigns in China discreetly, and multi-platform strategies are now becoming more popular.

With these new rules, China vowed to strengthen its anti-monopoly measures and regulate the e-commerce market by stating that internet giants cannot break social practices relating to anti-monopoly, Double Eleven, group purchasing, and the platform economy. China’s newly proposed amendment retains an existing maximum penalty of $309,500 (2 million yuan) for less serious infringements.

For a long time, Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and have had a love-hate relationship while competing for the title of China’s most dominant e-tailer. Alibaba’s Tmall platform was built as a virtual outlet for exclusive luxury purchasing experiences. Meanwhile, has grown into a full-fledged retailing website after beginning with digital product sales.

Even though the Double Eleven shopping festival and 618 shopping day ignite Chinese shopping frenzies, luxury brands have suffered from them due to being stuck in an “either-or” platform dilemma. With the competition between Tmall and intensifying, both companies implemented monopolistic policies to suppress each other, such as exclusive cooperation and irregularly low pricing.

For brands that want to take advantage of China’s digital selling channels, Tmall or were their best choices. Luxury brands, which receive built-in infrastructures from both platforms, can get countless benefits ranging from internal ad priorities to homepage promotions.

Following the new policy, has inked a partnership with Louis Vuitton, one of the top international luxury Maisons. Although Tmall is famous for being a good friend to luxury brands, this deal is the brand’s first with a Chinese third-party e-commerce platform. BVLGARI and Berluti also deepened their partnership with this quarter.

On the JD website, consumers can now search for Louis Vuitton products through the tailormade brand page, despite having little experience in exclusive luxury cooperation. The platform hopes to become a more luxury-featured venue. And now, customers can play around with the page and get redirected to Louis Vuitton’s official WeChat Mini Program, which is also full of purchasing links and alluring ads.

“You can see the change in,” said Joe Liu, a senior fashion marketing consultant in Beijing. “It is heading toward a more comprehensive, young, and trendy website. After Farfetch ended its partnership with, the latter kept seeking new partners. And the collaboration with LVMH is a highlight.” He added that Tmall is still a strong competitor in merchandising, international influence, and its unique capacities to navigate the market.

Regarding beauty brands, Guerlain and Givenchy (both owned by LVMH) have launched their official flagship stores on Meanwhile, brands with huge fan bases in China, such as Estée Lauder, CLINIQUE, and Kiehl’s, chose to rejoin

“Tmall and have been engaged in a war of luxury brands for several years,” added Liu. “But both platforms have advantages, and the race against each other pushes them to face more challenges. For, it has to shake off the tag ‘electronics retailer’ among its users. While Tmall needs to retain consumer trust and build relations with luxury houses. Last year, more luxury brands like Prada, Gucci, and Cartier opened their flagship stores on Tmall.”

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Glenfiddich Attracts Young Chinese HNWIs With NFTs

What Happened: According to a press release, Glenfiddich, the world’s most awarded single malt whisky, has partnered with digital designer Stephanie Fung to develop and launch a limited-edition NFT fashion collection. Named The Filigree Aesthetic, the NFTs will be auctioned off via the NFT trading platform and creative hub Foundation, with 100 percent of the 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). These artists redefined the Grande Couronne filigree by using unique mediums and materials.

“Digital wearables will be the next big thing within NFTs, and people will be able to utilize them within AR, VR, or metaverses,” said Fung. “There’s a lot you can do with digital that you can’t achieve via real-life garments, such as animated graphics, making materials glow, or defy gravity.”

The Filigree Aesthetic collection includes three NFTs, each inspired by the reimagined art pieces from three global artists.

The Filigree Aesthetic can be viewed on the youth culture hub, HighSnobiety.

The Jing Take: Digital fashion is taking the world by storm. On Friday, September 10, Yahoo launched an NFT collection in partnership with Rebecca Minkoff. Meanwhile, Karl Lagerfeld has announced the launch of a capsule NFT collection made of digital figurines.

Launching NFT arts and fashion collections have become a successful digital marketing strategy for various high-profile brands. Moreover, it has become a way to display and promote the creativity of up-and-coming digital artists and influence new consumer segments that can’t be reached through traditional marketing campaigns.

Luxury and premium labels understand that aligning with a young and emerging artist creates a positive brand association that might boost engagement and hooks audiences emotionally.

In this case, Glenfiddich partnered with an artist who conveys the modern character of China and the cultivation of Chinese creativity perfectly. Through cultural immersion, the single malt whisky brand expects to provoke a response from one of the most affluent yet loneliest generations in Asia as they use multiple devices to interact with brands. We expect this marketing strategy to increase the brand’s equity, boost consumer loyalty, and elicit a strong emotional response.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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Miu Miu Unveils Its “Mountain Club” Pop Up in China

The Social Edition is our weekly series which deep dives into luxury initiatives in China’s social media landscape. Every week, we highlight brand campaigns distributed on Chinese digital platforms — WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin, and beyond.

Our coverage spotlights global luxury brands, global beauty brands, and local Chinese brands. The latter gives insight into some of China’s most successful campaigns, which often come from local players, and are outside of the beauty and fashion space.

In this week’s roundup, we look at three campaigns, including Miu Miu’s “Mountain Club” event in Shanghai, Louis Vuitton’s China-special social initiatives in celebration of its founder’s 200th birthday, and Diptyque’s retrospective exhibition in Shanghai.

Miu Miu Unveils Its “Mountain Club” Popup in China

PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Little Red Book
MEDIUM Image, Short-video, Offline Pop-up
FEATURED TALENTS Lexie Liu (8.1M Weibo Followers) | Zhang Yuqi (13.3M) | Zhou Yutong (13M) | Qian Xin (12.8M) | Qiu Tian (2.7M) | Xiaowen Ju (3.2M) | Estelle Chen (736K) | Cici Xiang (2.5M)

On September 6, Miu Miu hosted the Miu Miu Mountain Club party at No. 1 Waitanyuan in Shanghai to celebrate the official launch of the Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2021 collection. The house recreated Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites Alps, the setting of its Fall/Winter 2021 show, by meticulously decorating the building from the inside out. Meanwhile, a pop-up store landed at Shenzhen MixC on September 4, and another one is unveiled at Shanghai IFC from September 9 to 19.

The campaign launch has hit China’s social platforms, thanks to extensive endorsements from celebrities and fashion KOLs. In particular, the campaign hashtag #MiuMiuMountainClub has recorded over 27 million views on Weibo. Netizens showed strong interest in the girlish winter looks from the collection, with many saying they “cannot wait to gear up for the upcoming snow season.”

On the heels of its sister brand Prada’s foray into the snow sports arena, Miu Miu kicks off the campaign with offline and online activities that engage sports aficionados and others. More importantly, the house is solidifying its luster by underlining a Miu Miu community. From Chinese models Xiaowen Ju and Cici Xiang to Qiu Tian, these faces allow the brand to consolidate its unique brand DNA in China and retain its loyal customers.

Louis Vuitton Teams With Chinese Stars to Celebrate 200th Year

BRAND Louis Vuitton
PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Little Red Book
MEDIUM Short-video
FEATURED TALENTS Liu Yifei (68M Weibo Followers) | Justin Huang (24.7M) | Ouyang Nana (20M) | AnnyFan (5.8M) | Dilraba (76.5M) | Xu Jiaqi (12.5M) | Gong Jun (18.5M) | Austin Li (20.3M) and more talents will be announced

2021 marks the 200th birthday of Louis Vuitton’s founder. And to celebrate this meaningful year, the house has been launching a special initiative in collaboration with Chinese creative talents on social platforms, including Weibo, Douyin, and WeChat. In the campaign, the featured faces — ranging from brand ambassadors, artists, and media veterans to fashion KOLs — tell the founder’s journey and the house legacy via a series of short videos.

So far, the videos that have received the highest viewership star brand ambassador Gong Jun, Chinese singer Xu Jiaqi, and Justin Huang. Since the launch of the anniversary celebration campaign, the hashtag #Louis200 has garnered 77.7 million views. With the ongoing short-video series, the social traffic of the campaign is expected to reach a new high after the release of the brand’s mobile game “Louis: The Game.”

Storytelling has always been the foundation of luxury brand communications with customers. As one of the most established legacy houses, Louis Vuitton is a veteran of contextualizing the brand heritage into today’s socio-cultural environments. By partnering with talents from various creative industries, the house underlines its relevance to the contemporary cultural scene while engaging broader audiences, so they learn more about the brand’s history across two centuries.

Diptyque Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary Through the Lens of Art

BRAND Diptyque
CATEGORY Luxury Perfume
PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Little Red Book
MEDIUM Pop-up Exhibition

On September 9, the French luxury perfume maison Diptyque opened a pop-up retrospective exhibition “Le Grand Tour” at Fuxing Art Center, Shanghai, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the house. The brand invited five renowned artists, namely Joël Andrianomearisoa, Johan Creten, Zoë Paul, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Rabih Kayrouz, to discuss art and perfume. The exhibition will be open to the public from September 11 to October 7, presenting an interactive journey featuring visual and olfactory experiences. A special collection, including five destination-inspired perfumed creations, was launched on Tmall on August 26.

The campaign hashtag #Diptyque60thAnniversary has racked up nearly 14 million views as of the opening of the exhibition. Thanks to the reviews of the limited-edition “Le Grand Tour” collection posted by fragrance KOLs on Weibo and Little Red Book, many perfume enthusiasts have shown high expectation for the campaign, which also created interest for the offline pop-up exhibition.

China’s fragrance market is undergoing a rapid shift towards niche brands, as explained in Jing Daily’s latest report How Niche Fragrances Are Winning Over Young Chinese Consumers. This surging demand hints at a huge market opportunity for lesser-known players in the sector, which, to date, rely on product reviews on social platforms to play a crucial role in a fragrance consumers’ journey. However, higher-end fragrance brands are not only about how they smell, but more often act as a symbol of one’s lifestyle.

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Luxury Rollercoaster: What Comes Up Must Come Down? Not So Sure

Key Takeaways:

  • Luxury should remain a very local business for the next year but lack of travel hasn’t been the negative trigger that many feared.

  • Nervousness around the outlook for the US and mainland China could end up being misplaced.

  • In the meantime, margins may continue to rebound dramatically as complacency is out and discipline is in.

The back-to-school period is always a good time to reflect on what’s ahead after having benefited from hopefully a thoughtful summer break. As I reflect on the past 18 months, it is quite clear that very few luxury managers could have imagined sales growth would be so strong for the sector. And as headlines hit — a rebound in COVID-19 cases in the US and parts of China, continued travel restrictions, tough bases of comparison, “common prosperity” discussions in mainland China — there seem to be clouds accumulating on the horizon. Here are a few of the recurring questions that are troubling luxury managers these days:

Travel constraints an issue?

Travel seems to have picked up domestically in the US and as well in China and in Europe, there has been a clear acceleration in intra-regional travel. The key traveler for luxury though — the long-haul Chinese mainlander going to Europe or parts of Asia — has evaporated and is unlikely to reappear meaningfully anytime soon given current regulations. Is that an issue? Not really. The notion that luxury demand was very much correlated to long haul Chinese outbound travel has been disproven since the Spring of 2020, and while Chinese and other nationalities stayed at home, sales for most brands rapidly picked up to reach above 2019 levels. Sure, that means European and Hongkongese stores were somewhat quiet, but look at the continued success of Hainan, the domestic duty-free hub of China, and store activity in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities as well as online purchases — that’s been heaving. We’re facing another year of locavore luxury consumers but buying at home doesn’t equate to buying less.

US and mainland China under pressure?

Usually, something that is hard to explain cannot endure. And when luxury execs try to explain why the US market has been so buoyant, they struggle. Many arrive at the conclusion that success in the US could only be ephemeral. Equity markets, “staycationing” impacts, stimulus packages, repatriation of growth, property markets. All of that has contributed. If you want to see the brighter side of the US luxury market, you could look at the capacity that consumers who were newly recruited during the crisis could come back and may influence others to step up. More importantly, you could make the case that, finally, the American consumer psyche is not incompatible with the concept itself of luxury. Societal change could be more long lasting than volatile markets. 

Conversely, in mainland China, the notion of “common prosperity” has spooked many luxury participants as, by essence, luxury demand is generated by bubbles or at least some form of wealth discrepancy. Here, the positive take would be to see that the end game of “common prosperity” is not to limit means of wealthy individuals but more to accelerate access of a greater number to the middle class.

From COVID-19 to courage

After years of complacency, over-spending and lack of discipline, the luxury sector has had great incentives to rethink its business models during the past 18 months. Corporate staff have been reassigned. Sales associates have been retrained. Rents have been renegotiated and some leases terminated. Data has been reexamined and leveraged greatly. Cynicism around sustainability issues has been reined in. As a consequence of the many actions taken, margins have rebounded very strongly in the sector. If it were just down to a COVID-19 knee jerk reaction, those margins might not prove to be sustainable. But if it is down to managers becoming way more professional and efficient, then it might be a different story. As Churchill would have said: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Carry on.

Erwan Rambourg has been a top-ranked analyst covering the luxury and sporting goods sectors. After eight years as a Marketing Manager in the luxury industry, notably for LVMH and Richemont, he is now a Managing Director and Global Head of Consumer & Retail equity research. He is also the author of Future Luxe: What’s Ahead for the Business of Luxury (2020) and The Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Just Begun (2014). 

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Bulgari Says Goodbye, Kris Wu, Hello, Yang Yang

What Happened: Seems like luxury can’t resist a pretty face — or the millions of followers attached to it. After cutting ties with long-time ambassador Kris Wu in July over alleged rape allegations, Bulgari has now appointed Chinese actor Yang Yang as its new spokesperson. The 30-year-old, who already represents Dunhill and Hogan, starred in one of the most popular Chinese dramas of the year, You Are My Glory, which has accumulated over 2.5 billion views since it was released in late July. The LVMH-owned jeweler is riding this high as well, with the announcement post receiving over 20,000 comments on Weibo.

The Jing Take: In light of China’s recent crackdown on celebrities, choosing the right ambassador has become a daunting task. Over the past few months, authorities have taken measures to curb the influence of the rich and famous, from removing popularity rankings and regulating fan merchandise sales to recently banning “effeminate men and other abnormal esthetics” on TV. 

As such, Bulgari should keep a close eye on its newest appointment. Although Yang Yang does not fall under this vague (and derogatory) label of “effeminate” — often depicted as the strong, brooding male lead in action and sports dramas — he commands a passionate fanbase that could stir trouble. In fact, when the final six episodes of You Are My Glory dropped on Tencent Video, netizens ended up crashing the site and caused the glitch to soar to the top of Weibo’s hot searches with almost 20 million mentions.

Yang Yang plays an aerospace engineer in the Chinese drama You Are My Glory. Photo: You Are My Glory’s Weibo

Yet despite these hurdles, not partnering with any local celebrity isn’t really an option. For one, Yang Yang’s reach of 56 million users on Weibo far surpasses Bulgari’s modest following of 2 million. Moreover, it’s not like the brand’s rivals are laying down their arms: Cartier has Jackson Wang driving engagement for its Pasha De Cartier campaign while LVMH stablemate Tiffany & Co. continues to harness Jackson Yee for views. 

Perhaps then, the best way forward is to diversify endorsements, something the jeweler has already been doing since the Kris Wu controversy. In August, Bulgari recruited an array of talents for its Dare to Dream campaign, including “little fresh meat” idol Fan Chengcheng, actress Zhao Lusi, female comedian Lamu Yangzi, and K-pop dancer Lisa from Blackpink. By doing so, the house not only reaches various fan communities but, more importantly, reduces its reliance on a single face. Because if the tide turns and another career ends up on the chopping block, at least Bulgari will have no shortage of KOLs waiting in the wings. 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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How CHOCHENG Transformed Into a Modern Global Brand

Pre-pandemic, fashion marched on as it always had. There were new collections, mainly by legacy brands, shown at inviting venues in New York, London, Paris, and Milan, to a select group of celebrities, editors, buyers, and lately, influencers. Then the world dissolved as COVID-19 raged, and with it, not only the way fashion was produced and purchased, but also how it was shown. Everything went digital — the beginning of a new era, perhaps — as the fashion industry struggled on how to best reach a new world of global consumers trapped, if not indoors, in the confines of their own country.

Today, however, as the world emerges post-lockdown, the fashion industry, now changed in so many ways, is again gearing up for another season of fashion weeks. New York Fashion Week leads the way, bringing back in-person runway shows, as well as a host of digital presentations and other exclusive experiences.

CHOCHENG, a luxury womenswear designer label launched in 2010 by designer Cho Cho Cheng, will be there, showing its Spring-Summer 2022 collection via a digital presentation from China on September 9. CHOCHENG is best known for its rich color palette and exquisite, hand-sewn tailoring, a technique Cheng picked up from his time on Savile Row. He’s also known for being the first Asian designer to open a flagship store on NYC’s famed Fifth Avenue.

Here, Jing Daily asks Cho Cho Cheng five quick questions before his show hits the runway — digitally, of course.

Jing Daily: How has the switch from in-person to digital been for you? 

Cho Cho Cheng: “I have been producing digital fashion films since the very beginning of my career, so I feel as if I am going back to my roots by switching to the digital show format. I like the metamorphosis aspect of fashion, and it works better with digital fashion shows. I truly enjoy the whole movie-making process. I give each collection a scripted story, and I am involved with directing, filming, and editing. The filming becomes part of the creative process, and the models truly enjoy acting their parts as well.”

What was your inspiration?

“For SS22, I was approached by friends about using an old Chinatown theatre that had remained closed since the beginning of the pandemic. It has vintage vanity tables backstage, which reminded me of the great Mei Lanfang [a famous Chinese opera singer] visiting New York in 1930 to perform the Peking Opera on Broadway. That inspired me to create a collection based on his famous opera, “The Drunken Concubine.” The collection is filled with color, inspired by Peking Opera, Pop Art, old Broadway, and cocktails.”

CHOCHENG showcases its Spring/Summer 2022 Digital Runway Show in New York. Photo: Courtesy of CHOCHENG

What are you hoping to impart? 

“I believe providing an accessible and entertaining digital fashion show can cheer people up a bit. Some of the garments will be available online at the same time the show launches, so it will be a great convenience to my loyal customers who have been supporting me from the beginning. Some of them actually called and requested we reopen the 5th Avenue store when the city was still in lockdown. It shows shopping really has some healing properties. Whether they are shopping out of necessity or vanity, I am glad I am contributing to their little moments of happiness.”

Why go digital? 

“I design and manufacture in the UK and Italy, my brand and flagship shop are based in New York, and I have been participating in New York Fashion Week ever since I started. I simply cannot stop traveling at this point in my career. It has been a huge challenge, but it is manageable with the help of new technologies and inventions. My tight schedule has made it impossible to stay in New York for fashion week to meet the press and customers, but it is not a good idea to have big gatherings at this time anyway. I have also decided to suspend my plan to open a store in Paris, which I hope will happen in the near future.”

What is CHOCHENG’s signature?

“I am one of the very few designers who has created a signature tailoring cut. We call it the house style in Savile Row terms. It is rather old-fashioned to care about a house style nowadays. It took me years to create one, and it increases production costs. No manufacturer wants to work with my one-of-a-kind patterns, so I have to do all my tailoring in-house, but I can manage it as a vertically integrated operation. I feel it is important because having a house style has made me more independent and durable as a designer — qualities that may well have contributed to my surviving as a global fashion designer.”

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China’s “Common Prosperity” Drive Sends Luxury Stocks Tumbling

Index Moves is our monthly analysis of the biggest climbs and drops on The Jing Daily KraneShares China Global Luxury Index, which tracks the global market performance of the luxury sector. The Index relies on the Jing Daily Global Luxury Score and Jing Daily Brand Awareness in China Score in addition to fluctuations in market cap and stock closing price. Below, we highlight luxury brand moves for the month ending August 31, 2021.

On August 17, Chinese President  Xi Jinping shook the country’s rich out of their complacency when he told the Communist Party leadership that the government needs to redistribute wealth in the interest of “common prosperity.”

Three days later, the Jing Daily KraneShares China Global Luxury Index hit a new low of 324.43 as investors drove the share prices of the world’s largest luxury companies downwards, wiping nearly 10 percent, or €62 billion ($73 billion), from the cumulative value of LVMH, Hermès, Kering, Richemont, and Burberry. 

Some investors even started betting against luxury firms. On August 20, the same day the Jing Daily KraneShares Index hit its low, short positions in Hermès stood at 0.9 percent, up from 0.7 percent at the beginning of the month, according to IHS Markit data. 

The worry for luxury brands and investors alike is that Xi’s comments, though not yet translated into policy, will trim the wealth of China’s richest, and in turn, curtail their ability to spend on luxury goods. With some brands, such as Burberry, now dependent on China for over half of global revenue, any policy change can have dramatic effects.  

Fresh in many investors’ minds is Xi’s 2013 anti-corruption drive, which targeted bribery and gift-giving among government officials. According to a paper published by the Kellogg School of Management, that campaign contributed to a 55 percent decline in luxury imports worth $194 million. Swiss watches and high-end alcohol were two product categories that were most affected by the policies. 

But back in 2013, luxury brands could at least count on wealthy Chinese travelers to continue spending overseas. That purchasing power has been far less readily available in 2021, as strict travel restrictions have persisted, and an increased appetite for shopping locally is likely to remain even after Chinese citizens are able to resume international travel. “We’ve now reached the peak spending of Chinese people out of China,” says Adam Knight, co-founder of Tong, a market intelligence company specializing in China. 

Brands with a strong presence in China will therefore do better. Take Burberry, which dropped out of the Jing Daily KraneShares Index in May following the Xinjiang cotton boycott. In August, however, Burberry returned to the index, ending the month in fourth place. 

“It would have been easy for Burberry to spook,” says Knight. “Yet they held their nerve and doubled down on the winning formula that has delivered great success over the last couple of years.” 

That “winning formula” includes a large digital presence through online activations, including gamification and NFTs, and culturally-driven campaigns such as partnerships with local Chinese artists to create installation pieces featuring its new Olympia bag. Together with a strong retail presence (97 of Burberry’s 214 stores are in China), Burberry’s weighting on the Jing Daily KraneShares Index has increased.

Many believe luxury spending will be largely unaffected by Xi’s “common prosperity” message. “Spending on luxury brands is now established in the culture of the Chinese middle class, so that won’t be affected by any wealth redistribution policies,” says Rafael Steinmetz Leffa, executive director of wealth management firm GWM. Xi’s message, he believes, is more about encouraging philanthropic spending among the wealthy, noting that luxury spending among his clients remains unchanged.

Furthermore, Xi has in fact encouraged domestic luxury consumption over the years. “The government has expended a lot of time and energy to repatriate luxury spending, whether in the form of cross-border e-commerce incentives or the setting up of duty-free shopping zones,” says Knight. “To clamp down now would simply push luxury spending back overseas as travel begins to open up again in 2022. I am also personally doubtful that the government will take any truly meaningful action to curtail high-end consumption in China itself.”

By the end of the month, the Jing Daily KraneShares Index had almost recuperated its mid-August losses, showing that at least some investor confidence was returning to luxury brands as September commenced. 

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