Did Dior x Stüssy Miss the China Mark?

What happened:

Dior and Shawn Stüssy, the founder of the four-decade-old streetwear brand, Stüssy, announced a collaboration for the Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2020 collection. The collaboration, which was confirmed by both Kim Jones, the creative director of Dior Men and Stüssy via Instagram posts, also marks Stüssy’s fashion comeback since his retirement in 1996. The collaboration debuted on December 3, at the Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2020 show held in Miami, two days prior to the opening of Art Basel Miami Beach 2019.

Background: 

Luxury-streetwear collaborations are nothing new. In 2017, the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration not only rocketed Supreme’s popularity in China, but also opened a new door to younger Chinese consumers for Louis Vuitton. Given this success, it’s no wonder that more and more top-tier luxury brands are venturing into streetwear culture and the social buzz around it. Dior, however, missed an opportunity with their Stüssy collaboration by not fully promoting it prior to its debut. For example, Dior’s official Instagram video posts only highlighted the design approach without verbally mentioning who the collaboration was with, while on Chinese social media, Dior used only one Weibo post with the same vaguely cryptic video campaign showing only Stüssy’s iconic style without any verbal messaging. Moreover, the video was overshadowed by Dior’s other posts featuring the Chinese singer/actor, Karry Wang, in Miami for the upcoming show. Two weeks ago, Wang was appointed as the new brand ambassador for Dior Men.

Recommended ReadingWhy Chinese Brands are Winning the Streetwear GameBy Valentina Frigerio and Louisa Loehrig

Implications: 

The luxury brands that have ventured into the luxury-streetwear collaboration approach as a way to gain access to younger consumers’ attention have, in fact, under-communicated the messaging behind these collaborations, especially when it comes to China. Both Chinese millennials and Gen Zers have fervently pursued these types of collaborations, particularly when top-tier players are behind them. Take the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration, which sold out in three days in Beijing, rather than the originally projected two weeks. Clearly the consumer demand is there, though relying on streetwear related social media rather than the luxury brand’s official account is limiting the collaboration’s intent to a very self-selected group of consumers and missing the wider range of luxury consumers that are looking for the next cool thing. Collaborations like the Dior x Stüssy are not very common, though at the beginning of the Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2020 show, Dior announced yet another collaboration between the brand, but this time with — wait for it — Air Jordan! This exclusivity should be embraced and widely promoted in the West, and perhaps more importantly, to China’s eager consumers.

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