Big Names Rule Milan Fashion Week, But China Checks In

This week, the Jing Daily Fashion Week Score eyes Milan, our third stop for Spring 2022. The big names were all out in force, from Prada to Marni and Max Mara to Giorgio Armani (celebrating 40 years of Emporio Armani). Meanwhile, a collaboration between Fendi and Versace, “Fendace,” closed out the event in dazzling fashion. The theme behind this tie-up, sincerity over strategy, offers a unique insight into how brands are repositioning themselves to deal with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.Another offer from Gen-Z favorite Gucci shows the brand is always one step ahead, despite being absent from the schedule. Its solution for maintaining relevance? The Gucci Vault (featuring restored and customized one-of-a-kind archive pieces) and a platform for emerging global designers such as Rui Zhou. Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s idea behind the concept was to put “central figures in a dialogue between past and present,” creating a joyful yet nostalgic feeling that very much called to mind la dolce vita.Here, the score rates a curated selection of global luxury names on the schedule — alongside Chinese names — to analyze how they connected with valuable Mainland shoppers. Milan’s importance as a showcasing location continues to grow, with labels China like Hui, Huishan Zhang (via a movie inspired by the city), and Annakiki opting for Italy’s fashion capital.Methodology:Model representation: evaluates representation of Asian models on the runway.Digital impact: evaluates Chinese netizen reception and engagement on leading social media platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, and Xiaohongshu.KOL & celebrity visibility: consider the star power associated with the brand through strategic KOL and celebrity partnerships.Special brand efforts: consider special programs or efforts on a brand’s part to speak to the Chinese audience. Company or brand contributions toward the ongoing virus crisis are also considered.Design context: a qualitative assessment of how the brand’s collection will speak to the Chinese audience based on current trends and preferences.Brand history: considers existing brand history in China, including overall presence, social reach, number of stores, earning trends, and brand missteps.PORTS1961Brand History: Ports opened its first store in China in 1993 as the first high-end fashion brand to enter China. Since then, the company has continued to expand in Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3 cities, with the brand becoming heavily reliant on the market. Ports1961 has accounts on popular social media accounts Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and WeChat. This year marks its 60th anniversary, with an exhibition bringing this 60-year-long journey and legacy to visitors.Model Representation: 5/38 looksInfluencer Impressions: With influencers like @ElephantKingdom, @Mr.Jiliang, and @PipiJuice and fashion media outlets @Cosmo, @IfFashion, and @OK!Fashion posting about the show, social reached an impressive 170 million netizens in total.Netizen Reaction: Overall highly positive. Drawing inspiration from a new generation of young women, netizens were positively surprised by the artistic director Karl Templer’s innovative designs, which combined prints, sequins, and lace presented in clean and neat silhouettes and soft, delicate knitting. A significant number of netizens reposted the show, praising its designs.The Verdict: For Spring 2022, Ports1961 leveraged young celebrity influence. Pop band idols Bo Yuan (3.4M followers) and Liu Xie Ning (4.4M followers), as well as fashion blogger Anny Fan (5.8M followers), drew significant organic traffic and activity to the show. Its livestream on the video platform Tencent received over 2.4 million views, aided by Chinese supermodel He Cong, who walked the show, resulting in further attention from local press and netizens.Tod’sBrand History: The Italian luxury brand Tod’s now counts nearly 50 stores in China, where, according to its latest earning brief, the house is experiencing double-digit growth. The leather Maison has a healthy following of over 1 million followers on popular social platforms Xiaohongshu and Weibo.Model Representation: 6/45 looksInfluencer Impressions: Thanks to major press coverage by @Bazaar, @Grazia, and @MarieClaire, social posts of the light-hearted, minimalist collection reached 118 million netizens in total.Netizen Reaction: Overall positive. The colorful handbags, hats, and sandals quickly captured netizens’ attention and their urgent need to have accessories in their wardrobes. The choice of supermodel Gigi Hadid to open and close the show failed to deliver because of backlash over a video of her imitating “Asian face” that appeared online.The Verdict: Once again, leaning on celebrity influence proved to be an effective strategy. Ambassador and superstar Liu Shishi, who owns a solid following of 35 million followers, promoted the pre-show announcement through her social media platform, helping the brand reach a wider audience. As a result, the show

Big Names Rule Milan Fashion Week, But China Checks In

This week, the Jing Daily Fashion Week Score eyes Milan, our third stop for Spring 2022. The big names were all out in force, from Prada to Marni and Max Mara to Giorgio Armani (celebrating 40 years of Emporio Armani). Meanwhile, a collaboration between Fendi and Versace, “Fendace,” closed out the event in dazzling fashion. The theme behind this tie-up, sincerity over strategy, offers a unique insight into how brands are repositioning themselves to deal with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

Another offer from Gen-Z favorite Gucci shows the brand is always one step ahead, despite being absent from the schedule. Its solution for maintaining relevance? The Gucci Vault (featuring restored and customized one-of-a-kind archive pieces) and a platform for emerging global designers such as Rui Zhou. Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s idea behind the concept was to put “central figures in a dialogue between past and present,” creating a joyful yet nostalgic feeling that very much called to mind la dolce vita.

Here, the score rates a curated selection of global luxury names on the schedule — alongside Chinese names — to analyze how they connected with valuable Mainland shoppers. Milan’s importance as a showcasing location continues to grow, with labels China like Hui, Huishan Zhang (via a movie inspired by the city), and Annakiki opting for Italy’s fashion capital.

Methodology:

  • Model representation: evaluates representation of Asian models on the runway.

  • Digital impact: evaluates Chinese netizen reception and engagement on leading social media platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, and Xiaohongshu.

  • KOL & celebrity visibility: consider the star power associated with the brand through strategic KOL and celebrity partnerships.

  • Special brand efforts: consider special programs or efforts on a brand’s part to speak to the Chinese audience. Company or brand contributions toward the ongoing virus crisis are also considered.

  • Design context: a qualitative assessment of how the brand’s collection will speak to the Chinese audience based on current trends and preferences.

  • Brand history: considers existing brand history in China, including overall presence, social reach, number of stores, earning trends, and brand missteps.

PORTS1961

Brand History: Ports opened its first store in China in 1993 as the first high-end fashion brand to enter China. Since then, the company has continued to expand in Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3 cities, with the brand becoming heavily reliant on the market. Ports1961 has accounts on popular social media accounts Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and WeChat. This year marks its 60th anniversary, with an exhibition bringing this 60-year-long journey and legacy to visitors.

Model Representation: 5/38 looks

Influencer Impressions: With influencers like @ElephantKingdom, @Mr.Jiliang, and @PipiJuice and fashion media outlets @Cosmo, @IfFashion, and @OK!Fashion posting about the show, social reached an impressive 170 million netizens in total.

Netizen Reaction: Overall highly positive. Drawing inspiration from a new generation of young women, netizens were positively surprised by the artistic director Karl Templer’s innovative designs, which combined prints, sequins, and lace presented in clean and neat silhouettes and soft, delicate knitting. A significant number of netizens reposted the show, praising its designs.

The Verdict: For Spring 2022, Ports1961 leveraged young celebrity influence. Pop band idols Bo Yuan (3.4M followers) and Liu Xie Ning (4.4M followers), as well as fashion blogger Anny Fan (5.8M followers), drew significant organic traffic and activity to the show. Its livestream on the video platform Tencent received over 2.4 million views, aided by Chinese supermodel He Cong, who walked the show, resulting in further attention from local press and netizens.

Tod’s

Brand History: The Italian luxury brand Tod’s now counts nearly 50 stores in China, where, according to its latest earning brief, the house is experiencing double-digit growth. The leather Maison has a healthy following of over 1 million followers on popular social platforms Xiaohongshu and Weibo.

Model Representation: 6/45 looks

Influencer Impressions: Thanks to major press coverage by @Bazaar, @Grazia, and @MarieClaire, social posts of the light-hearted, minimalist collection reached 118 million netizens in total.

Netizen Reaction: Overall positive. The colorful handbags, hats, and sandals quickly captured netizens’ attention and their urgent need to have accessories in their wardrobes. The choice of supermodel Gigi Hadid to open and close the show failed to deliver because of backlash over a video of her imitating “Asian face” that appeared online.

The Verdict: Once again, leaning on celebrity influence proved to be an effective strategy. Ambassador and superstar Liu Shishi, who owns a solid following of 35 million followers, promoted the pre-show announcement through her social media platform, helping the brand reach a wider audience. As a result, the show posts shared by Tod’s official Weibo account received a high number of engagements.

Max Mara

Brand History: With offline footprints in over 30 cities in China, Max Mara opened its Tmall flagship store in July, meaning the Italian luxury brand now has built a broad retail network across physical and digital channels.

Model Representation: 7/46 looks

Influencer Impressions: Overall positive. Fashion KOL @Nikki-Min highlighted some features she “adored,” including the eye-pleasing colors, functional jackets, and sharp silhouettes. “Each look balanced gender-neutrality and femininity very well, portraying a vibrant professional women’s image.”

Netizen Reaction: The campaign hashtag “MaxMaraSS22” has garnered nearly 6 million views on Weibo. And although the brand’s winter garments are primarily what Chinese consumers recognize, the latest color palettes were appealing to netizens. The brand also received substantial social traffic thanks to HUAWEI’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, who favors the brand.

The Verdict: From posting the show on social platforms to putting a poll on WeChat so users could vote for their favorite presentation looks, Max Mara showed its dedication to Chinese audiences this season. Additionally, the brand has garnered positive impressions thanks to endorsements from established and sophisticated Chinese females, which is conducive to consolidating its brand image in the local market.

ANNAKIKI

Brand History: Anna Yang is an independent fashion designer and the founder of ANNAKIKI. One of the few Chinese designers to be added to the official calendar of Milan Fashion Week, Anna is also the first fashion designer to present an AI-empowered collection. ANNAKIKI was recently named the “Chinese label of the moment” by Camera Della Moda. And the brand sells in over 12 cities across China, boasting online stores on Tmall and WeChat Mini Program.

Model Representation: 18/46 looks

Influencer Impressions: With influencers like @Xavier and @Evan and press media @Wallpaper and @精彩!OK promoting the show, posting reached 21 million netizens in total.

Netizen Reaction: Overall positive. This season, Anna Yang integrated technology with futuristic designs while drawing inspiration from cosmic science fiction. Anakiki’s signature 3D-tailoring is also presented in this collection. And through the use of metallic fabrics, the designer built a full visual experience. Yang’s universe continues to amaze netizens, who are proud of Chinese design talents.

The Verdict: ANNAKIKI enjoys a loyal following in China, where both the designer’s account and the brand’s official account on Weibo have over 300,000 followers combined. Young consumers are starting to appreciate local avant-garde talents and are looking for more unique pieces to avoid spotting people with the same outfit. ANNAKIKI perfectly fits into this segment. Although some designs are excessively bold, there are many suitable for daywear. The brand has great potential to consolidate its presence, both in China and internationally.

MM6 MAISON MARGIELA

Brand History: In recent years, Maison Margiela has accelerated its expansion in China. In 2017 the brand consecutively launched a page on Weibo, then WeChat, and opened a store in SKP Beijing. In 2018, it expanded to two other locations, followed by the launch of its Tmall flagship store in 2019. Now, the brand has new stores in Shanghai and Chengdu. The house has great potential in the country, and its concept and designs have attracted local consumers (on Xiaohongshu, it counts over 70,000 UGC instances.)

Model Representation: 0/28 looks

Influencer Impressions: Influencers such as @FashionAmberR and @Frigaciak, as well as press outlets @Grazia and @Yoho, all amplified the show, which reached 132 million netizens in total.

Netizen Reaction: Overall positive. Hosted in the popular Milan bar “La Belle Aurore,” MM6 Maison Margiela’s show drew inspiration from the city’s urban life. Lively check patterns and surrealistic colors characterized the collection, connecting with netizens claiming they wanted to own pieces from it.

The Verdict: As usual, Maison Margiela did not promote the collection through celebrities. However, it still managed to get impressive exposure, thanks to coverage from numerous media outlets and fashion KOLs. Moreover, the brand, renowned for its cool and conceptual aesthetic, has been enjoying substantial attention from sophisticated consumers and influencers, many of whom have a rising appetite for less logo-driven garments.

Fendi

Brand History: Since the brand’s previous ambassador Zhao Wei got canceled, Fendi has nimbly shifted its celebrity endorsements. The Italian luxury house owns a high Weibo following of nearly 1 million, along with 58 boutiques in China, marking a strong presence in the market.

Model Representation: 7/49 looks

Influencer Impressions: Overall positive. Digital fashion outlets such as @ifFashion and @GraziaGo amplified the runway video, so it reached many fashionistas. Kim Jones’s Antonio Lopez-inspired designs and his representation of the 1970s disco spectacle were highlighted.

Netizen Reaction: Thanks to a livestream hosted by Zhang Yifan from girl group Bonbon Girls 303, Zhou Keyu from the boy group INTO1, and fashion influencer Mr. Jiliang, the show reached 9 million views as of publication. Netizen comments positively gushed over the brand’s clean, sharp, and retro looks.

The Verdict: With nostalgia and vintage becoming a booming trend favored by today’s young Chinese shoppers, Fendi’s latest collection smartly brought that to local viewers. More impressively, the house racked up a large amount of social buzz due to a livestream featuring two young idols and its hype collaboration with Versace. Both initiatives have demonstrated their dedication to younger demographics.

Jil Sander

Brand History: The OTB-owned German designer brand owns one boutique in China, located at the renowned SKP-S shopping Mall in Beijing. So far, it has not launched any stand-alone online shops on China’s e-commerce platforms.

Model Representation: 4/44 looks

Influencer Impressions: Overall Positive. @Fashion-Planet noticed the distinction between this season and the previous ones. The fashion KOL commented on Weibo: “In addition to Jil Sander’s exquisite cutting, [this season was] more relaxed, and witty emotions have been involved, which can be indicated by a range of brights and embroideries.”

Netizen Reaction: The brand socialized its video and looks on Weibo and WeChat. However, these efforts have received few reactions and engagements from netizens via official channels. Elsewhere, some users reacted to KOL @FashionAmberR’s posts and showed their love for the brand’s consistent effortless chic.

The Verdict: Jil Sander has seen rising recognition among sophisticated luxury shoppers in China, despite maintaining a low-key communication strategy. On Xiaohongshu, the label has marked over 5,000 UGC posts that consist of the brand introduction, product reviews, and the show looks. Still, the brand has plenty of room for improvement in its social communications and could share more brand stories and inspirations beyond standard campaign photos.

Marni

Brand History: With 15 boutiques in China, Marni has expanded from Tier-1 cities to emerging Tier-2 ones with strong buying power, like Ningbo. The brand has over 266,000 UGC posts on Xiaohongshu, thanks to its hero shoe and handbag products.

Model Representation: 1/53 looks

Influencer Impressions: Overall neutral. In addition to positive comments from KOLs, including @Mr. Jiliang and @iDoubleS, the critic @MarsAmateurFashionCritic queried the season’s bold styling by asking: “Is Marni’s Spring Summer 2022 collection presented in New York Fashion Week?”

Netizen Reaction: Reactions were mixed. Some netizens were impressed by the collision of stripes and florals, the bold styling, and the model casting. Others described the runway as a ”weird party,” showing little interest in the baggy garments and quirky looks.

The Verdict: The model casting this season was inclusive of body shapes, but Asian models were less represented. However, Marni was well-prepared to communicate its presentation to Chinese audiences, from posting teasers to sharing the creative director Francesco Risso’s inspirations on Weibo. Still, the color palettes and styling distanced the brand from Chinese consumers who pay attention to the functionality of garments.

Giorgio Armani

Brand History: Armani was one of the first luxury houses to enter China, opening its first boutique there in 1998. However, today’s consumers have shown a higher awareness and appreciation of the brand’s beauty line than its Ready-to-Wear collections.

Model Representation: 6/72 looks

Influencer Impressions: Overall positive. Top fashion KOLs such as @Mr. Jiliang and @LilElepantKindom posted this season’s looks, and fashion insiders have heavily commented on them.

Netizen Reaction: The house livestreamed its runway on WeChat Channel and shared a video of it on Weibo afterward. However, since the show went live at midnight in China, fewer Chinese viewers could tune in to the livestream, weakening the show’s reach.

The Verdict: The first physical runway marked a time for Armani to take the show back to his original theater at 11 Via Borgonuovo after 20 years. The marine blue backdrop film set a calm and relaxed tone for the presentation, which resonated well with an audience longing for vacations. Though the brand did not leverage its celebrity power, such as a collaboration with its global brand ambassador Hu Ge, its approach could be seen as “attitude maintenance.”