According to Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the 2021 S/S Milan Fashion Week will resume its regular schedule and be held from September 23rd to 28th. More than half of the brands, including Fendi, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo, will return to the runway for live display.
However, physical fashion runway shows have already been back on in China. On August 6, Louis Vuitton held its Spring 2021 Menswear show in Shanghai and gained huge exposure on Chinese social media, highlighted by the presence of its brand ambassador Kris Wu on the runway with a 2-meter-tall doll on his back. This quickly became the most trending topic on Weibo, #Kris-Wu-Walks-Runway-with-2M Doll-on-His-Back (#吴亦凡背着两米高玩偶走秀#) achieved 540 million views in total and the livestreaming of the show on Weibo had over 69 million views.
Though the eye-catching figures are definitely one new record set to the fashion industry, the underlying reasons of why Louis Vuitton organized this show at this time and this location are worth more discussion.
The changing industry dynamic
Traditionally, the fashion industry is brand-centric, which means fashion shows are an exhibition of brand competence, thus the locations of the shows are usually close to brand headquarters in Europe. However, Louis Vuitton placed its significant menswear show in Shanghai and for the first time, with almost half of the audience being local Chinese customers. It reveals that Louis Vuitton, as one of the most prestigious luxury brands, is changing the industry’s dynamic, turning from brand-centric to consumer-centric.
According to Bain, China accounted for 90 percent of global luxury spending in 2019. After the worldwide pandemic hit in 2020, signs have shown that China’s luxury spending is recovering, suggesting that a large part of the country’s shopping demand has been delayed, but not eliminated, by the pandemic outbreak. More importantly, Chinese men account for a much larger share of luxury sales than in Western markets and this constitutes another big factor of putting the show in Shanghai.
Digitalize & Humanize fashion shows
As COVID-19 is pushing fashion and luxury brands forward into digitalization, Louis Vuitton, as the luxury pioneer of digital transformation, timely grabbed another key ingredient in bonding with its consumers. Pure digitalization does not create a touchpoint that is close enough to local consumers; in order to maximize the media buzz of the first luxury fashion show in post-COVID-19 China, Louis Vuitton partnered with GQ China to leverage its expertise in social media publicizing area. On the same day of the show, the GQ China team took over the brand’s official Weibo account at 10 in the morning.
During the takeover, teasers were sent out to Louis Vuitton’s 4.3 million followers and the 20 celebrity guests’ billions of followers. Each star has recorded a one-liner that encapsulated what the viewers remember about them lately. These short videos garnered more than 1.6 million likes, 210 thousand comments, and 1.73 million reposts in one day.
In total, Louis Vuitton’s Shanghai Spring 2021 Menswear show reached more than 85 million livestreaming views in total. The number would hardly be this huge without the staggering coverage of China’s major social media platforms – the livestreaming received 18 million views on Twitter, 3.3 million on Instagram, and 1.6 million on Twitter and 335 thousand on Facebook, figures almost negligible compared to that on Chinese social media.
Louis Vuitton has set a great precedent to the luxury industry. As the Chinese market is taking up more shares of the luxury industry, brands need to inaugurate more localized touch points to access and resonate with the consumers, especially after COVID-19.