In the epidemic, trade frictions, and other multiple factors overlapping, China’s national trend of local brands under the power of domestic demand, gradually has a lot of demand, and domestic brands are also rising. The Guochao or “national pride” is driven by Chinese brands proud of being “designed in China” and not only “made in China”. In contrast, luxury brands are also innovating with elements from the Chinese culture and Chinese design in the process of entering the Chinese market, in order to better prepare for the opening of the Chinese market. Today we are looking at Guochao and how this trend is shaping China’s luxury landscape.
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What is ‘Guochao国潮’?
The term ‘Guochao国潮’ “national trend” literally means “national style + trend”, is a trend created by a country with a unique identity and recognized by its people.
So far, there have been 4.7 billion discussions on the DouYin platform, and many bloggers have emerged on the Xiaohongshu platform to explain and make content about national trends. In China, a national trend is being set off.
Along with the Internet era growth, people began to be happy to accept new things, especially in the post-90s and post-00s, they admire personalization and self-style. For Chinese fashion, combining old-school cultural elements with modernity is the self-confidence of national culture and even the self-expression of tradition.
The Continuous Exploration of “Guochao国潮”
Born from the Unicity of Chinese Brands
Contrary to what is commonly said, the Guochao trend is driven by young Chinese showing their affection for local brands. This is neither a cultural appropriation nor an artistic movement. The young generation is giving more credit to domestic brands and local creators, being proud of everything produced in China. The Palace Museum located in Beijing launched a perfume collection named “The Six Elegances” in honor of the six main pavilions of the Forbidden City. Nostalgia and heritage are the key drivers of the Guochao trend.
In the past months, we met the brand Qipology, a Chinese brand that specialized in custom-made modern Qipao. The Qiapao or Cheongsams are old dresses worn in ancient Chinese culture. In order to fill the void in the market, the brand decided to create modern custom-made qipao dresses that celebrate Chinese culture without sacrificing style. Today, these dresses are mainly used during weddings, galas, and special events.
Example of a Successful Campaign
2018 has been called the “Year of Guochao”. Since 2018, Guochao culture has become one of the hottest trends of the moment. Among them, “China Li Ning” appeared in New York Fashion Week, and Li Ning became the only Chinese sports brand to walk in the “Tmall China Day” held by Tmall in cooperation with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In 2021, Li Ning’s Spring/Summer collection broke through and combined oriental philosophies with human energy, giving birth to the concept of “art of sports”. Behind Li Ning’s success is good proof of the integration of Chinese elements in sports brands.
Example of a Misconception on Guochao
It is not difficult to see that there is a market means there is value. In recent years, many western luxury brands have also started to create, continuously, designs with Chinese traditional culture.
Among them, in July 2022, the French luxury brand Dior updated a women’s half-skirt as a new autumn dress, from the shape and detail chart comparison, many Chinese netizens pointed out that its structure design is very similar to the ancient Chinese Mamianqun, but Dior party did not publicly admit that this design is inspired by Chinese elements, so it was branded as “cultural plunder.
However, Dior did not publicly admit that the design was inspired by Chinese elements, so it was labeled as “cultural plunder” and “plagiarism”.
How to use the “Guochao” tastefully and successfully?
1. Focus on the audience of “Guochao”
The majority of the “Guochao” culture is favored by the younger generation. And for the younger generation, people are looking for something unique and meaningful, not fast fashion. Therefore, luxury brands need to cater to the values of young Chinese people, trigger the resonance and cultivate the customer base.
2. Quoting rather than copying
This point lies in the fact that when international brands design products with national trend elements, they must not copy them as they are, but need to combine the Chinese style of national trend elements with Western fashion and need to design new products with innovative craftsmanship. In addition to this, a certain degree of protection of Chinese intellectual property rights, for the source of the quote, can be directly open, and the Chinese market will be very welcome such practices.
3. Launch a new marketing campaign
The Internet is a good channel for young people, for example, some Chinese brands such as Hua Xizi and Baichang will produce retro posters in Chinese style, with strong Chinese costumes, Beijing opera, and other national style elements. Offline marketing is also essential, looking for Chinese quality KOL to do the brand image is also a good way to promote luxury goods with the national trends.
Type of Guochao campaigns:
- Collaboration: Co-branded campaign with a Chinese brand
- Packaging: Create a special packaging celebrating Chinese know-how
- Content: Propose new visuals inspired by Chinese aesthetics
- Festival: Participate to Chinese festivities or launch a special event in mainland China
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