July 4, 2022

China’s Verdict on Men’s Fashion Weeks

The Spring 2023 menswear schedule has drawn to a close but what’s the China verdict? Read Lefty’s exclusive report on which luxury names stole the show.

The Spring 2023 menswear schedule served as the playground for some of the world’s leading luxury names — Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, and Fendi, to name a few. With their dramatic sets and daring collections, brands went all out to orchestrate a spectacle both on and off the runway.

And there were good reasons to go big. With extended lockdowns in China leaving stores and distribution facilities closed from March to May, many fashion players reported falling sales in the country and slashed expectations for their business there this year. But rather than just turning to global markets for growth, companies are resisting the headwinds and pressing ahead, well aware that China is still on track to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025.

As such, several trends emerged during the season. Notably, luxury houses recruited Gen Z talents, from actors to athletes, to generate greater hype on Chinese social media. Meanwhile, local designer names like Feng Chen Wang and Joeone took a different approach, stunning audiences with their Chinese-inspired designs.

To learn which brands left a lasting impact in China, influencer marketing platform Lefty examined the earned media value (EMV) from this season’s men’s outings. Based on that data, here are the luxury names that generated the biggest impressions and how they rose to the top.

Keeping Things Young

Luxury fashion has always fetishized the beauty and ephemerality of youth. But now, with Gen Z the world over its driver, this trend has become even more apparent. Louis Vuitton was the prime example of how to do this well, ultimately ranking it No. 1 in EMV in China at $12.3 million.

For starters, its announcement of Chinese boy band Teens in Times as ambassadors just a day before its Paris show came at the perfect time. Harnessing the star power of the group’s seven Gen Z members, the legacy house saw 64 percent of its total EMV driven by this casting choice alone. Louis Vuitton also teamed up with 18-year-old snowboarding champion Su Yiming to invite his fans to watch the show via livestream, riding the post-Olympics sports craze in China. Offline, LVMH’s flagship brand continued to bring the youthful theme to life with its set — a bright yellow toy racetrack with giant red balloons.

The timely appointment of Teens in Times as brand ambassadors helped keep brand awareness at top of mind for consumers. Photo: Louis Vuitton’s Weibo

Interactive Invites Pay Off

Like Louis Vuitton, Prada relied heavily on its lineup of celebrity guests and KOLs to generate social media buzz in China. However, it made the run up to its Milan show more exciting. The Italian luxury house asked eight Chinese influencers to interact with audiences and invite them to the show, including brand ambassador Cai Xukun, actor Li Yifeng, and table tennis Olympic champion Ma Long. Together, they garnered $2.65 million in EMV. In all, this initiative helped Prada generate $7.2 million in EMV — triple the EMV of Fendi, listed at No. 2.  

In a Weibo post, Chinese idol Cai Xukun invites his fans to watch Prada’s menswear show, garnering over 1.7 million likes. Photo: Cai Xukun’s Weibo

Local Names Drive Interest  

No stranger to the global spotlight, Shanghai-based Feng Chen Wang adopted a relatively low-investment strategy to appeal to the Chinese market. According to Lefty, it was the only brand to direct all its traffic to Xiaohonghsu, hosting a livestream on the namesake designer’s personal account. This differed from top brands such as Prada, which hosted livestreams across Weibo, Douyin, WeChat Channels, WeChat Mini Program, and Tmall. But as Xiaohongshu has a high concentration of contemporary fashion lovers, the move makes sense for the Chinese designer label, which is famous for its futuristic unisex designs. Plus, it clearly paid off: in its Paris Fashion Week debut, Feng Chen Wang ranked in the top 13 in EMV.

Specializing in men’s pants, Chinese brand Joeone made its debut at Milan Fashion Week and wrestled its way into the top 7 in EMV ($503k). With just 22 influencers at work, talk was largely on the design: the collection was inspired by the famous Chinese painting “A Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers.” With avant-garde silhouettes fused with ancient Chinese elements, Joeone delivered a fresh aesthetic that was well-received by Chinese and global fashion critics alike.

Joeone’s pants are inspired by a painting of Chinese landscapes. Photo: Joeone’s Weibo

While selling in China was challenging in the last quarter, these events show that brands can still find ways to engage local consumers from abroad. By picking the right ambassadors, leveraging various social media platforms, and presenting thoughtful collections, luxury companies can build towards their comeback — and pick up new fans along the way.

Download Lefty’s report – China’s Verdict on Men’s Fashion Week S/S23 HERE.

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