Has China become the new fashion capital of the world? There is no question that the country has made great strides in terms of both original design and production capacity over the past decade. But is Chinese fashion really having a moment? Or are we only seeing a select few labels gaining traction in global markets? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Chinese fashion and explore what’s driving its current success. So, stay tuned – it’s going to be a wild ride!
Shanghai is the New fashion capital of the world
After years of primacy for the role of “counterfeiting capital”, China has finally evolved into a positive new state, becoming the second-largest apparel market in the world and rapidly reaching the title of “New capital of fashion”.
In 2020, Shanghai hosted two major fashion events. The “March 2020 fashion week” has been one of the most interesting events of the year. It clearly told us that the future is China.
The event was broadcast live streaming on Tmall, which is one of the most important e-commerce platforms in China.
The show generated 11 million views and $2,82 million in merchandise.
Another special event took place in Shanghai this October, a new fashion week. And China surprised us once again.
Despite the expectations, the event has not been a live stream event. The fashion week of October 2020, in fact, was a hybrid between the digital world and the real one. In Fact, Shanghai’s show was held in person, however, many digital tools were involved, including Tmall.
Live streaming is definitely the protagonist of the new fashion, as Julie Gilhart, chief development officer of Tomorrow Consulting, said:
“Physical shows are great for localized businesses, but the fashion world at large is still needing innovative digital ‘to travel’ to the different markets”
International luxury brands looking at Shanghai as the new fashion capital
During an exclusive event in Shanghai this December 2020, guests could watch the live streaming of the new men’s autumn 2021 collection of Dior. The luxury brand chose to be in line with the Chinese digital trend of the last year (live streaming) and the show has a futuristic taste thanks to its space scenography full of neon colors.
Louis Vuitton also performed a physical fashion show for its men’s spring/summer 2021 collection in the new capital of fashion. And for the occasion, the models weaved on the banks of the Huangpu River.
And finally, even Harrods decided to invest in Shanghai. After attending the Shanghai fashion week in October (hosting events and pop-ups), the British Giant decided to open its stores in a building near the Modern Art Museum Shanghai, providing a long-term private shopping service. It’s the first time Harrods offers this kind of service outside of London.
Why is China the new Fashion capital of the world?
Besides the obviously interested glance of international brands towards China, there are economic statistics confirming that the future of fashion is in China. According to analysts, China’s luxury spending will make up 40% of global spending by 2025.
In addition, there are some important factors accelerating such a trend and are the growth of the middle class together with the new rich young Chinese’ increasing interest in fashion.
Fashion brands are aware that China is the New capital of fashion
Before COVID-19 numerous famous brands already looked at China with interest. However, their attention to the Chinese market has grown during the last year, principally due to China’s effective reaction to the global crisis.
Then, more and more fashion companies started to invest not only in distributors or other ways of selling their products in China, but they also put more money into promotion and marketing. In addition, they are now aware of the main role digitalization has in China, so are opening Chinese social media accounts and choosing innovative ways for being competitive (Louis Vuitton opened the online retailer 24S).
The key to success for luxury brands: Digitalization & Localization.
Those who want to enter the Chinese market should keep in mind this other key factor because Chinese customers are overwhelmed by advertisements. They are used to be sought by sellers. In the new era, it is not enough to be popular in western countries to be found by anyone on the earth. Global brands already understood this rule and are adapting their strategies to Chinese tastes and habits to reach their oriental target.
Dolce & Gabbana, for instance, chose a national Chinese event, the Qixi Festival, to debut. And again, the fashion brand Chloe sold out all its handbags for the first time during the Chinese Single day event, also known as Double 11.
How can a fashion brand reach the New Capital of fashion (China)?
Even if China is a very competitive market, the consumption level is very high, and digitalization helps all kinds of companies to be present in this lucrative market.
Innovation, creativity, and the right marketing strategy can be sufficient to attract Chinese attention.
So, if you think to have unique know-how you should try to enter at least.
There are not only Tmall but many other e-commerce platforms that can host your online store.
Xiaohongshu, for example, is very popular among Gen-Z, at the beginning Chinese young girls were almost the unique target, but now even males love to do shopping with this app. Xiaohongshu, aka Little Red Book or Red, is more than an e-commerce platform, a User Generated Content app. We can compare it to Instagram, people used it just for chilling, but now are starting to buy products on it.
Before selling, a fashion brand needs to do branding
If the Chinese never heard about your brand, how can you pretend they suddenly find your online store?
Of course, they don’t. Then, in order to let them be informed about your products, you need to build your online presence. Like in Europe, SEO and SEA are the first tools where to start together with the creation of a Chinese website.
A fashion brand needs an aesthetically attractive Chinese website
The website must be hosted in China otherwise will be too slow, and the Chinese get bored immediately. Another aspect that cannot be undermined is the cure of the aesthetic. Chinese users only like websites with high-quality images, even more, when we talk about a beauty-related sector such as fashion.
No need to mention the storytelling and the language, of course, an appetible website must be written in correct Chinese.
In addition, any aspect should be related to the culture and to the Chinese way of thinking (localization).
Baidu SEO and SEA are effective tools for fashion brands in China
Search Engines Optimization is fundamental because the search engine is the most rapid way to check the reputation of a brand. In China, the most popular Search Engine is Baidu. To rank high on the first pages of Baidu you can pay or do PR and be present on open social media like Weibo or Zhihu.
Zhihu, which can be better defined as a Q&A forum, can be used easily to create an online reputation. You simply need to create a lot of conversation about your products on it, and of course, add links to your website.
Instead, Weibo is a social media, so not only can create an l account but also work on the hashtag, pay for advertisements, and do collaborate. It is an open social media, everyone can see the content of the platform, so is a great tool for gaining brand awareness.
In order to do SEO, you also should contact bloggers or journals related to your business that are available to link your website.
Social media are important to nurture your audience and gain your consumer’s trust
Chinese spend many hours per day on social media, updating their profile, looking for information, watching live streaming, playing, and following their favorite KOLs and KOCs.
There are several social media. There are: the Chinese version of Youtube, Bilibili or Youku, the Chinese version of Facebook, Weibo, the Chinese version of Instagram, RED, and there is WeChat, the most popular social media in China, which is a mix among Facebook, WhatsApp, twitch, skype and not only.
For a fashion brand, it would be very useful to open a Service Account on WeChat. With a Service account, a company can send a newsletter once a week and use WeChat as a CRM system. On WeChat, a company can also create a mini-program, a sort of online store. People, in fact, can pay with a WeChat wallet.
KOLs are the protagonist in the new fashion capital as well as the live streaming
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are significant for a marketing campaign. They are the new Chinese consumption driver as well as live streaming. Choose an interesting KOL for your target audience that can rapidly grow your revenue or at least let your brand gain brand awareness.
On the other side, there are Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs), aka micro-influencers. These people can help your brand build trust. Chinese consumers really trust them, even more than KOLs, collaborating with different KOCs can give a higher ROI than a collaboration with a KOL.
Even Dior collaborated with different KOLs during Shanghai’s fashion week!
So, what are you waiting for? The future awaits you in China!
GMA is a digital agency that helps several companies enter the Chinese market, take a look at our Case studies.