KEY POINTS

This week, Alibaba hosted its second series of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) Tmall China Day events in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) that was held September 9-11. Three leading brands, Particle Fever, JNBY, and Angel Chen, presented their collections on the runway at this event. Tmall China Day also included a pop-up market at Opening Ceremony, a retailer, which included products from six Chinese labels that represented “China cool,” the phenomenon of Chinese brands gaining popularity with millennials who want authentic and hip designs that integrate Chinese cultural elements. 

  • Three leading Chinese designers presented their runway collections at NYFW China Day this year. These designers cater to contemporary Chinese consumers.
  • Tmall Fashion has launched an initiative to empower 100 local designers. The goal is for the selected designers to generate over RMB 10 billion in combined sales by 2020. 
  • Shoppers in China can use see-now-buy-now technology to purchase China Day NYFW runway items beginning September 13, 2018.

This week, the Coresight Research team attended Alibaba’s second NYFW Tmall China Day, a three-day series of Fashion events that was held September 9-11 in New York City.  

The China Day fashion events kicked off on Sunday at Spring Studios with a press event and China Day Talk hosted led by Tmall executives: Jessica Liu, President of Tmall Fashion and Luxury; Bo Liu, President of Tmall Marketing and Operations; Paul Fang, Founder and CEO, Suntchi; and, and Steven Kolb, CEO of CDFA.

The executives hosted a panel discussion with the three selected designers: Angel Chen, Angel Chen founder; Lin Li, JNBY founder; and, Jieyi Zoey Liu, Particle Fever founder. The industry panelists discussed the globalization of fashion, the collection’s inspiration, and contemporary Chinese consumers. 

Fang said that China Day is, “Two days of events and exchange to come (up) with new ideas to help brands around the world to be successful.” Bo Liu added that China Day is an opportunity for people to understand the Tmall platform, and spoke on how merchants use consumer data, which helps drive brand insights, for their businesses. 

Three Leading Designers were Selected to Feature at the Event because they Represent the Shopping Preferences of the Contemporary Chinese Consumer. 

On the selection of these three designers, Fang said, “For season two, we wanted to deliver contemporary Chinese women’s power.” All three designers are women and each presents a strong and distinct perspective in fashion. 

Jessica Liu added that these designers were chosen because the aesthetics of their designs best align with the contemporary Chinese consumer on Tmall. More specifically, Jessica Liu said that Tmall had analyzed the data available to group female shoppers into nine categories of which five comprised shoppers with over 90% of the spending power of all apparel shoppers. These five categories are: (1) Luxury; (2) Quality; (3) Variety; (4) Trendy; and, (5) Rising Middle Class (Urban). Jessica Liu said that Tmall chose the three designers for NYFW because they cater to women shoppers in the categories Luxury, Variety, and Rising Middle Class (Urban) which account for approximately 30% of the spending across the five categories. 

Listed below are descriptions of each of the brands selected for NYFW China Day:

  • JNBY is one of the most iconic brands in China and was founded by Li in 1999. The brand caters to the Chinese luxury shopper and is known for material innovation, creativity and quality, and concepts of sensation, intellectuality, and curiosity. Jessica Liu said that according to Tmall data, luxury is very important for Tmall fashion customers because it helps to represent their personality. The luxury customer seeks out a lot of information on products and brands on Tmall, is sensitive to brands and materials, and focuses on quality and trends. 
  • Particle Fever is the first sportswear brand in China that was founded by an independent designer. Before founding this trendy and functional brand in 2015, Jieyi Zoey Liu was a corporate lawyer in New York City. In describing her brand’s inspiration, she said that she understands the corporate consumer. Jessica Liu said that the brand was selected because it caters to the Rising Middle Class (Urban) category, one of the fastest growing categories on Tmall. Shoppers in this category seek trendy and unique designs, quality products, and want fashion to represent their individuality. According to Tmall data, consumers in this category are of ages 25-35 years, live in tiers 1 and 2 cities and enjoy travelling. and celebrities. 
  • Angel Chen was founded in 2014 by Chen and is a contemporary ready-to-wear brand for bold women who are looking forward to the future. These shoppers are of ages 18—29 years, lead fashion trends and like to influence their peers’ taste in fashion. According to Tmall data, these customers are usually employed in creative industries and the seek more information, nearly double, about products than the other categories. 

Tmall Fashion has launched an initiative to empower 100 local designers. The goal is for the selected designers to generate over RMB 10 billion in combined sales by 2020.

Jessica Liu, President of Tmall Fashion and Luxury, said the company is empowering designers and will help them succeed. There has been triple digit growth in the number of brands on the platform and this growth includes brands of all sizes,–from mature brands such as JNBY to younger ones such as Particle Fever. Tmall has plans to incubate and support more designers, and the company is helping 100 local designers to expand on the global stage. 

This ambitious plan includes several strategic initiatives including providing these local designers with the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem. Jessica Liu said that Tmall Fashion is looking at the challenges and pain-points these local designers face and is trying to help solve them. Tmall is known for supporting major brands and retailers and is committed to working with emerging designers on its platform. 

To execute this initiative, Tmall Fashion is:

  • working with associates and partners including: Suntchi, a full-service management company that focuses on the fashion and entertainment industries; and, Labelhood, an independent showcasing platform under Shanghai Fashion week and a fashion incubator for young Asian designers and new independent brands. These associates and partners are helping fresh design school graduates to assess what their designs should look like, determine their brand identity, and understand their target customers. 
  • working to connect designers with manufacturers on the supply chain. A big challenge for new designers is finding the right manufacturers for their products and the first cohort of designers that have used the supply chain solution will launch in Spring and Summer, 2018. 
  • looking to help designers build awareness amongst their audiences. Jessica Liu said that Tmall Fashion is always looking to discovering new events, such as NYFW for opportunities to build brand awareness. 

Tmall Fashion helps designers and brands expand their channels beyond the online channel and, to that end, works with Intime, a large mall operator in China. One of the designers in the Tmall Fashion network will open an offline store this fall. 

Shoppers in China Can Use See-Now-Buy-Now Technology to Purchase China Day NYFW Runway Items

Jessica Liu highlighted that Tmall Fashion’s first participation in NYFW in February of 2018 was a big success, and the company’s see-now-buy-now technology and brand awareness building exercise contributed in a big way to that success. During the first NYFW China Day runway shows, there were more than 150 million impressions on social media and more than 20 million comments from Chinese consumers. Jessica Liu said, “We knew that we had a lot of preparations for the second NYFW based on the great success of the first show.”  

See-now-buy-now will be available on September 13, 2018, in China and shoppers will be able to watch the runway shows online and purchase apparel from the China Day shows as they watch. 

Jessica Liu hinted at other technologies that Tmall Fashion is working on, including an intelligent screen on which shoppers will be able to virtually try apparel and accessories on for fit. This technology will also make recommendations based on consumer analytics.


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