/Paris Fashion Week Brands Understand China’s Value

Paris Fashion Week Brands Understand China’s Value

From reporting on special show efforts to analysis of season potential, Jing Daily’s highlights are a must-read for how well luxury names engaged locals. This listing reveals who is taking the market seriously and leveraging celebrities to the best effect. Although the event took place in the shadow of the war against Ukraine, the shows went on even Balenciaga’s, whose creative director Demna considered canceling. And, while fashion week is at times absurd, it is still an unmissable opportunity to communicate with audiences. 

China was absent yet again, and with the country’s zero-COVID policy (along with new outbreaks of the virus in Shanghai and Wuhan), it’s unlikely to join global activations in person any time soon. Still, the schedule reads like a wishlist of the typical Chinese consumer: Dior, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, and more. All this makes Jing Daily’s analysis of the luxury houses at Paris Fashion Week essential reading for those wishing to understand what is perhaps one of the occasion’s most significant installments. 

Outings are reviewed under the following headings : 

  • Brand history: considers history in China, overall footprint, and activations 
  • Season potential: analyzes consumer preferences through design and digital impact
  • Special show efforts: considers special efforts to speak to the Chinese audience. 
  • KOL & celebrity visibility: considers the star power derived from partnerships. 

Balenciaga

The Quick Take: The house’s street-style approach to luxury is beloved by local Gen Z, meaning it enjoys a solid following of cultured buyers. Impressively, so far, Balenciaga remains without a China ambassador while still managing to reach consumers. The attendance of Kim Kardashian in her tape-outfit drove impressive online traffic for the dramatic show. 

Brand history: Its current popularity means that Balenciaga should be expanding its footprint in the country even further than the 38 stores it currently sports across Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. On Weibo, it has 213,800 followers, while on Xiaohongshu UGC instances exceed 250,000.

Season potential: Balenciaga’s previous collaboration with The Simpsons made this one of the most anticipated shows of the schedule. It didn’t disappoint. The breathtaking set, resembling a life-size snow globe in which models battled arctic elements as accessories billowed behind them, caught the attention of both netizens and the press. From major magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle to fashion KOLs Mr. Jiliang, Pipijuice, and Dipsy, this was the event that everyone was talking about. The garbage handbags specifically drew much comment.

Special show efforts: The runway livestream has hit 22.7 million views on Weibo so far, meaning the collection should translate well.

KOL & celebrity visibility: The appearance of Kim Kardashian at the show — in an eye-catching “yellow taped” outfit — turbocharged the reach of the avant-garde label’s offering. Fashion outlets, media, bloggers, and netizens have all posted pictures of the celebrity, driving impressive online traffic. 

Saint Laurent 

The Quick Take: The appointment of Blackpink member Rosé as their brand ambassador has boosted sales. This should be no surprise: the Korean celebrity enjoys a loyal following in China and perfectly matches the company’s DNA. With the appointment of Anthony Vaccarello, the label has found strength in footwear and Ready-to-Wear markedly visible in this collection.

Brand history: Although it entered the market later than other luxury names, Saint Laurent has built a solid presence online and off: with 53 physical stores supplemented by a WeChat boutique. The house launched its Rive Droite lifestyle label, presented by the official WeChat Mini Program, in February 2022.

Season potential: Drawing inspiration from Nancy Cunard, an independent publisher and activist, Anthony Vaccarello steered his collection away from any overt sexiness, flash, or embellishment — which was well received by Chinese netizens. This more introverted take on the Yves Saint Laurent aesthetic can be expected to lead to a positive sales outcome.

Special show efforts: The brand livestreamed the runway show via its official site and Weibo. As of March 10, replay on the latter exceeded 22.8 million views and 21,700 impressions. Before the show, Chinese female celebrities including Liu Lingzi, Wang Churan, and Xuan Lu shared teasers on Weibo.

KOL & celebrity visibility: During the show’s livestream, many Weibo users expressed their desire to watch it together with Liu Lingzi, which drove substantial engagements for the livestream. But it was Chinese model He Cong’s catwalk look in particular that impressed netizens, as seen in their many enthusiastic comments.

Dior 

The Quick Take: The French luxury titan has set a benchmark in terms of communicating fashion shows to Chinese audiences. Chen Man’s controversy has had little impact on image or sales. Endorsements from the high-end house’s powerful cast of celebrity ambassadors maximized show exposure enabling it to easily churn out the next “It” product. 

Brand history: With almost 70 stores in Greater China, Dior was one of the first luxury companies to enter the digital landscape. It has since accumulated a combined following of nearly nine million on Weibo, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu. It was the first to tap Douyin too, launching a series of initiatives exclusively during the Double-11 Shopping Festival. 

Season potential: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminism received a tech upgrade in “The Next Era” collection. The first look — featuring a bodysuit outlined in fluorescent green — impressed audiences, sparking an online discussion on fashion tech. A perfect example of Dior’s ability to anticipate audiences’ love of the unexpected. The Weibo hashtag #DiorFW2022 has racked up 37 million views (which will easily translate into sales).

Special show efforts: A livestream event featured ambassadors Angelababy and Liu Yuxin as well as fashion insiders. Also, prior to the show it collaborated with Yuan Bingyan and Yang Caiyu, who both posted teasers. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Thanks to the endorsement of ambassadors such as Angelababy, Yang Caiyu, Liu Yuxin, and Ren Min, its Fall 2022 presentation garnered substantial social traffic. The runway looks have been reported by all major fashion media such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, and Cosmo.

Miu Miu

The Quick Take: Prada’s little sister fully understands the importance of utilizing celebrities in China and is striking a chord with young locals. A fun, interactive livestream was boosted by stars like Cici Xiang, Qiu Tian, and Lexie Liu. Hardly surprising, then, that Miu Miu’s low-rise mini-skirt (introduced only last season) was back and is becoming a hot commodity. 

Brand history: Miu Miu launched its Tmall flagship store in 2020, which supplements 23 physical doors. 2022 saw it feature a Chinese New Year campaign with ambassadors Lexie Liu and Qiu Tian. On Weibo, the label enjoys 1.3 million followers.

Season potential: For Fall 22, Miuccia Prada continues to rely on the iconic low-waist mini skirts, which were the collection standout. Its overall reaction was positive, affirming its virality: the low-rise silhouette has been a hot topic among netizens and the skirt has made several appearances in magazines. Several fashion KOLs and press outlets, @Neil王静昌, Mr. Jiliang, and Sohu Fashion, have reposted the show. 

Special show efforts: This time the collection was created in collaboration with the artist duo Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Together they innovatively combined artistic animation with the livestream, making it interactive and fun. The Weibo livestream had over 12.1 million views. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Prior to the event, Miu Miu and Harper’s Bazaar invited Cici Xiang, Estelle Chen, Qiu Tian, Lexie Liu to shoot a promotional campaign for the upcoming show. The stars also shared the livestream invite with their fans, which attracted significant traffic to the show: nearly three million viewers joined. 

Louis Vuitton

The Quick Take: Louis Vuitton’s logo is one of the county’s most recognizable trademarks. For many first-time luxury purchasers, monogrammed handbags are a must; their presence on the French maison’s latest runway only confirms this. As such, the propagation of its heritage and infamous logo looks the most promising tactic particularly when considering the surge in middle-class consumers from lower-tier cities.

Brand history: The house counts 61 stores at the most prestigious locations. This year, it unveiled its Maison at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li, (the third Louis Vuitton Maison in the mainland) where it integrates retail, cultural, and lifestyle spaces. One of the most followed luxury names on Weibo, it enjoys over 7.3 million followers on the platform.

Season potential: The show location at the prestigious Musée d’Orsay was as important to Louis Vuitton’s local audiences as its collection of relaxed silhouettes, oversized jackets, and wide leg pants: all glimpsed between historic French statues. Some youthful garments evoking a ‘scholar-style’ are likely to appeal to young Gen Z. Overall, the looks (particularly the handbags) have received remarkable attention, widely positive, from viewers. 

Special show efforts: The livestreamed show on Weibo (rather than short video platform Kuaishou, as it did for its menswear runway) reached 25.4 million views. Since then, fashion KOLs @Fashion_BangZ, @ElephantKingdom, and Dipsy all joined the rush to post about the event. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: The South Korean model and actress of the Netflix hit Hoyeon Jung opened Fall 2022, however, her presence failed to ignite as much excitement in China as it did elsewhere. Instead, it was celebrities and ambassadors like Liu Yifei, Dilraba Dilmurat, and Zhong Chuxi, as well as sports star Eileen Gu, that drove organic traffic to the livestream. Actress Liu Yifei’s video campaign for Louis Vuitton’s show alone attracted 1.2 million views.

Loewe

The Quick Take: From an initial low-profile penetration strategy, Loewe is now actively publicizing its ambitious China plans. Handbags and perfume are popular categories in the country, while ready-to-wear remains a challenge. The announcement of Leo Wu as brand ambassador was well received by consumers but the house missed a trick by not leveraging him for this show. 

Brand history: Under Irish designer Jonathan Anderson, the 176-year-old Spanish house enjoys great popularity: 34 stores across 17 major cities are testament to this. In 2017, it launched its first online flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall. The Gate, Puzzle, and Barcelona handbags are some of the preferred accessories on local lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, where Loewe has amassed over 180,000 UGC instances. 

Season potential: “Whimsical” was the adjective favored by fashion enthusiasts to describe the collection’s surreal approach. From last season’s one-of-a-kind heels to Fall 22’s car-shaped dresses, lip-patterned breastplates, and skirts wrapped with heels — at Loewe, anything seems possible. The joyful and festive vibe of the show has greatly delighted netizens, though some did express their doubts. Coverage was good: media outlets and fashion KOLs, such as Cosmo, Vogue, and @ElephantKingdom, all posted.

Special show efforts: Unfortunately, fans were only invited to watch the livestream on its website — a missed opportunity which has hindered engagement and audience figures. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: On February 22, Loewe announced Gen Z actor Leo Wu as its ambassador. The young idol enjoys nearly 44 million followers on Weibo and the announcement has garnered a combined 422,200 social engagements on the platform (fans raved about the news). Loewe missed another trick by not leveraging the star for the promotion of this collection; instead, it asked actress Wen Qi and Korean singer Hyuna to post the invitation prior. 

Valentino

The Quick Take: Valentino actively takes part in all Chinese festivities, such as “520 I Love You Day” and Chinese “Qi Xi” Valentine’s Day. This season, Pierpaolo Piccioli romantically stripped the palette down to a single pink hue which drew much positive online chatter. However, even though China is a main driver of growth, it needs to move beyond the Rockstud. 

Brand history: Valentino officially entered in 2004 and now has 35 doors in Greater China. It launched on Tmall with a flagship store in 2018 and a 3D virtual pop-up store on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion. An exhibition held in Shanghai in 2020 and a pop-up art bookshop at the Garden Residence last year further showcased its dedication. 

Season potential: Valentino chose pink this season, presenting an entire collection in the shade — a collaboration with Pantone — in a dazzling variety of silhouettes. Afterward, “pink” spiked on Weibo indicating much potential: especially with newer shoppers. According to its financial report, revenue in the first half of last year rose 64 percent year-on-year. 

Special show efforts: The show was reported by major fashion outlets such as NOWRE, YOKA Fashion Network, and Cosmo. Fashion KOLs such as @StyleModels and @FashionModels posted about the show. The Weibo topic #Valentino A/W 22 Fashion Show# exceeded 30 million views in half a day. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Valentino announced actress Sun Li as its new ambassador on March 4 (before the show), which garnered significant traffic from the celebrity’s followers. Actress Guan Xiaotong, singer Dong Sicheng, and model Zhou Zilin were also on hand to amplify. So far, this collection has accumulated 12.42 million views on Weibo.

Chloé 

The Quick Take: In the past, the French label was well-loved for its iconic handbags (such as Faye and Drew). Now shoppers and KOLs are enjoying Chloé’s Woody tote. A foregrounding of sustainability aligns with Chinese consumers’ growing awareness, but it’s unclear if the house can make the most of this. Given its restrained aesthetic, it really needs a bigger push here.

Brand history: In 2014, it unveiled its first-ever physical show in the mainland to celebrate the opening of a boutique at the Beijing SKP mall — marking its 37th on Chinese soil. It also has a flagship store on Tmall and a WeChat boutique, as well as 258,000 and 13,000 followers on Weibo and Xiaohongshu, respectively.

Season potential: The relaxed collection included many real leather looks (the designer sees this as an ethical by-product of the meat industry) and Peruvian knits. Inspired by the concept of “rewilding” — that is, leaving land to its own devices — Gabriela Hearst’s Fall 2022 collection underlined her social and environmental awareness: one that aligns authentically with locals’ green credentials. More should be done to leverage the opportunity this advantage presents.

Special show efforts: The show was only livestreamed through its official site but the label hosted a screening event in Shanghai for fashion insiders and selected media guests. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Despite the potential of the livestream, Chloé did not collaborate with any Chinese celebrities for the show. Still, fashion media including YOKA Fashion, T Magazine China, and iWeekly, as well as KOLs like @XieXinYan, posted runway looks on Weibo. The hashtag #ChlooFW2022 received 675,000 views as of March 7 — respectable but lower than competitors. 

Acne Studios

The Quick Take: Of all the Northern European lines in China, Acne Studios enjoys the highest visibility. However, as competition increases, the Swedish label will have to secure more exposure by collaborating with domestic stars, press, and influencers around showtime and not just relying on the inclusion of local models.

Brand history: Acne Studios debuted in 2016 and has since accelerated its expansion. In 2018, the company opened its first flagship store in Beijing (and the third store for the label); today it has 14 stores in total. 

Season potential: Through details like rough seams and exposed padding, Fall 2022 focussed on redefining our concept of the beautiful. And, given its number of stores, it has a market opportunity. Moreover, they gained significant coverage from influential media outlets such as Harper’s Bazaar, T Magazine, and i-D China all posting about the show. However, netizens’ opinions were divided: some appreciated the forward approach while others questioned its wearability. 

Special show efforts: Weibo account @Fashion_Mok shared a post naming the four Chinese models that were walking the show for Acne Studios: Li Shuping, Luo Yi, Hua Yilan, and Shi Rui.

KOL & celebrity visibility: Without ambassadors or any lean on local celebrities to promote the runway, the label partnered with domestic artists Cui Aihui and @33EMYBW for its “Acne Image Makers” creative project. And, on occasion, Acne will dress local idols in magazines.

Stella McCartney 

The Quick Take: Stella McCartney is rooted in sustainability and the empowerment of women: both are being successfully communicated to local audiences, who have become more environmentally aware. However, even with such marked potential, it still needs stronger hero products visibly lacking from the collection to compete in a landscape where consumers thirst for newness. 

Brand history: Since 2019’s partnership with LVMH to further develop the British designer, Stella McCartney has built a solid offline presence with 16 stand-alone boutiques in Greater China. The label now has 88,600 and 1,602 followers on Weibo and Xiaohongshu. 

Season potential: Media outlets Harper’s Bazaar, CR Fashion Book, and Yoka Fashion and Fashion KOLs @FashionAmberR, @Frigaciak, and @PiPiJuiCe have all posted about the show, praising its exquisite attention to detail. Overall, netizens’ reactions to the collection in partnership with American contemporary artist Frank Stella have also been positive, with a particular appreciation for the faux leather, voluminous faux fur coats, and oversized silhouettes. 

Special show efforts: To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Paris Disneyland, the label launched a special edition T-shirt in organic cotton, as well as an outfit for Disney’s Minnie Mouse, who was seen on the livestream. Following the show, it launched #TributeToChineseWomenPower for International Women’s Day, where KOLs were asked to wear their Minnie T’s. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Though the label did not collaborate with any Chinese celebrities for the show, the runway looks (featuring Chinese models Zhang Lina, Shi Rui, Li Shuping, and Luo Yi) were recognized by local netizens. Fashion KOLs such as @Neil王静昌 and @PipiJuiCe shared this in their positive takes on Weibo. 

Paul Smith

The Quick Take: In China, Paul Smith is largely known for his print, and signature Pink flagship store in LA, which became a “must-see” destination for traveling netizens. Further press and celebrity exposure will help to consolidate its positioning. This season’s lookbook shot on Chinese supermodel Chu Wong was a nod to local shoppers.

Brand history: Paul Smith is an iconic British company with a long history of more than 50 years, and is well known by local consumers. There are two Paul Smith franchised stores (SKP Beijing and Xi’an) and one PS Paul Smith shop in Luxemporium Beijing, which is wholesale-operated as well as a Tmall Pavilion flagship. In 2017, it held the touring exhibition My Name Is Paul Smith in Shanghai. 

Season potential: This collection was admired for its color, print and fusion of sportswear and formal dress. The company restarted its WeChat account last December and planned several marketing campaigns for the Chinese New Year, hinting that a new offensive may well be in the pipeline.

Special show efforts: Given the current uncertainty, the label held intimate one-to-one meetings as well as a go-see at its opulent Parisian headquarters instead of a runway. The lookbook was shot on Chinese supermodel Chu Wong (which in itself is respectful to domestic consumers) and looks were posted on Weibo. The series has been reported by nearly 10 fashion media publications including Tencent Fashion, SIZE Fashion Life, and SUPER World Youth. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Paul Smith has been actively dressing local celebrities to increase its collections exposure in the mainland. Recently, it’s been seen on actors Yang Youning, Liu Yijun, and Zhang Jiayuan, as well as beloved Gen Z idol Ouyang Nana. 

Rick Owens 

The Quick Take: With a solid awareness and distinctive design aesthetic, Rick Owens has strong potential. Biker jackets, platform boots, and drop crotch pants are among mainlanders’ favorites. However, the company needs to map out a more consistent social media strategy if it is to better engage its target audience. 

Brand history: The US luxury brand has one store in Shanghai. It launched its official Weibo account as early as 2016, which accumulated nearly 200,000 followers. However, in 2019, it quit Weibo and switched to WeChat. Its first official account was discontinued in 2020, and the second one kicked off at the end of 2021; these changes indicate strategization. 

Season potential: While it rarely collaborates with local celebrities, its avant-garde image has reeled in a loyal following over the past decade. The poignant and provocative Fall 2022 runway spoke to its niche target consumers — fashion forward obsessives who appreciate the designer’s vision.

Special show efforts: On March 3, a teaser for the show’s livestream with a link to its WeChat official account was released. However, due to the account’s low visibility, viewership was less than 700. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Fashion media, including KIKS and YIJIN壹衿, as well as KOLs such as @SainT吕, shared looks on Weibo. In addition, fashion KOL @阿珊0v0 impressed followers with the interior design of the dramatic show venue. 

Sacai 

The Quick Take: Sacai has garnered a broader following thanks to its collaboration with Nike, but still manages to hold firm on its uncompromising DNA. Its low-key approach to celebrities is in keeping with its company ethos and it benefits greatly from word of mouth. A fashion week collaboration with Cartier will also help. 

Brand history: Japanese luxury label Sacai owns four boutiques on the Mainland, located in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an. Since it launched on Weibo (and WeChat) in 2019, it has attracted 17,700 followers and has 28,000 UGC posts on Xiaohongshu.

Season potential: Featuring unconventional, deconstructed, and layered cutting, Sacai has held its own as a popular niche designer name among fashion enthusiasts. Its balance between formal and casual dressing resonated well with modern, intellectual consumers this season.  

Special show efforts: The brand posted a virtual show invitation on its Weibo account and shared the link to the Instagram page, where it livestreamed the show from its iconic Hôtel de Ville setting decked in pink lights. However, the general user wouldn’t have been able to open it without a VPN. 

KOL & celebrity visibility: Though Sacai took an understated approach to celebrity endorsement, models Bella Hadid and He Cong were recognized by netizens and drove some traffic for this season. Influential fashion KOLs such as @PipiJuiCe and @小象王国 amplified positive reviews and runway looks on Weibo. 

Reported by Gemma A. Williams, Lisa Nan, Agnes Wu, and Emma Li

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