- Coach has worked with top influencer Mr. Bags in China to promote the Jean-Michel Basquiat collection on social media while also deploying regional pop-up exhibitions in luxury malls like Beijing SKP and Chengdu IFS.
- Louis Vuitton included two Chinese artists in their Artycapucines collection this year. The series was also in its Wuhan exhibition, See LV, and attracted social posts from fashion watchers, who were learning about artists they might not have known otherwise.
- Dior’s fifth edition of the artist collaboration Lady Dior Art in China was unveiled as an exhibition in mid-November during the ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, making the event a stop for well-heeled art lovers.
In luxury, many brands have started looking at industries such as food or online games for cross-marketing opportunities. But some are sticking to art, an industry that luxury fashion has been connected to for centuries. But with consumers starting to get collaboration fatigue, can artist collaborations still make them tick?
Spring 2021 collections saw a roster of designer-artist collaborations at the “Big 4” fashion weeks. That included Burberry’s new show, In Bloom, which was a collaboration between Riccardo Tisci and contemporary artist Anne Imhof and Vivienne Westwood, who used artworks from Chrissie Hynde and Anthony Newton as the new print.
In an overseas market like China, artist collaborations do not only show how luxury cherishes originality and supports local artist communities; they are also an effective way to rebrand. Here, we look closely at three recent artist collaborations in China and how local consumers have responded to them.
In September, Coach introduced the Coach x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection along with a global campaign that starred some of its ambassadors, including actress Yang Zi and Chinese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin. The collection, which debuted on the runway last February as part of Coach’s Fall 2020 collection, symbolizes Coach’s approach to connecting with a new generation of customers.
Many young Chinese consumers who had thought of the U.S.-brand as their mom’s favorite or a fancy souvenir from an American outlet are now seeing the brand in a different light, based on posts from Little Red Book. In China, Coach has worked with top influencer Mr. Bags to promote the collection on social media, while also deploying regional pop-up exhibitions at luxury malls like Beijing SKP and Chengdu IFS. The collection costs around three to four times more than an average Coach bag. The Rogue 39 handbag, for example, is priced at $1,250 (12,000 yuan).
For a U.S. audience, the collection demonstrates Coach’s inclusive spirit. But for Chinese consumers, it shows that Coach is changing by showing a bold, cool side.
Louis Vuitton’s Artycapucines collection involved six leading contemporary artists bringing their unique visions to Louis Vuitton’s classic, modern bag: the Capucine, which was created in 2013 and named after Rue des Capucines in Paris.
One noticeable change of late has the luxury house upping the number of Chinese artists among those selected. In fact, this year is the first time the brand has featured two Chinese artists — Liu Wei and Zhao Zhao — among its six choices.
The Beijing-based Wei is renowned for his provocative multimedia work. His Artycapucines is based upon Microworld, his large-scale sculptural installation at the 2019 Venice Biennale, while Zhao’s Artycapucines is based on his 2018 sculpture, In Extremis No.3.
On October 30, bags from the Artycapucines collection — in a limited edition of 200 — were released in select stores around the world. The inclusion of the series in the brand’s current Wuhan exhibition, See LV, attracted social media posts from fashion watchers, who were learning about artists they might not have known otherwise.
Though it was launched elsewhere in October, the fifth edition of Dior’s artist collaboration, Lady Dior Art in China, was unveiled as an exhibition in mid-November during the ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair. As such, the event became a stop for well-heeled art lovers from around the world.
The brand used the launch event as an opportunity to reconvene its ambassador family, which includes Huang Xuan, Yang Caiyu, and Zhang Xueying. Since 2016, the collection has featured ten artists from around the world, and this year, the spotlight in China was on local contemporary artist Song Dong. Song’s artwork Usefulness of Uselessness – Rectangular Window No. 9 (2017), which inspired his work for the handbag, is made from a range of materials, including an old wooden window, a mirror, and a door and was also present at the show.
The exhibition did not seem to attract much foot traffic or social traffic, but that probably was not the brand’s goal. The few posts of the show on Weibo or Little Red Book came from ambassadors and super VIP guests like fashion investor Wendy Yu, and they exemplify the brand’s approach to high-reach positioning.