INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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A Close Look at the Chinese Designer Brand Business After the Epidemic

May 3,2020

With the Covid-19 epidemic well under control in China, the official trade platform of Shanghai Fashion Week, the MODE Shanghai Apparel Trade Fair (hereinafter referred to as the "MODE Trade Fair"), officially opened its doors on April 27.

As the leading event in China's fashion industry, the MODE Trade Fair attracts hundreds of Chinese and foreign fashion brands every season. As the official chief cooperative media outlet of the MODE Trade Fair, Luxe.CO, recently went behind the scenes and took an in-depth look at the fair’s operation.

On the one hand, Luxe.CO found that MODE, which mainly fulfills orders via fashion buyers, quickly adjusted to open online and offline dual-track order channels. On the other hand, we were able to catch a glimpse of how Chinese niche designer brands have responded to the epidemic and how local mid- to high-end fashion consumers behave through local designer brands.

Is Local Medium and High-end Fashion Consumption Affected?

The demand for fashion apparel fell sharply during the epidemic, as people were self-quarantined at home. However, we learned from communicating with buyers and shopkeepers in various regions that the purchasing behavior of mid- to high-end consumers had not changed much. The fastest sales volume recovery is currently being witnessed in high-end clothing priced at around RMB 3,000.

Mu Jinming, the co-founder of CREATORS SHOWROOM, was deeply touched by this. He said that, with the gradual stabilization of the epidemic, the sales of high-end apparel and accessories priced at more than 3,000 yuan in physical stores have returned to pre-epidemic levels. Several fashion buyers from all over the country also said that high-end consumers have maintained their previous shopping frequency during the epidemic and have continued to search for new products. Moreover, their spending levels have not changed much.

Buyers in various regions have not been discouraged by the epidemic. They have actively expanded their online sales channels with a selection of more designs and unique products and plan to be ready for a possible rebound in consumption in the second half of this year, as well as guaranteeing the same winter budget as before. 

In general, fashion buyers are confident in their overall sales potential this year. The four major measures with which local designers have actively responded to the epidemic are adapting to the home scene, expanding the categories, setting up a secondary line, and improving cost performance.

Four Local Designer Brands’ Responses to the Epidemic

The self-quarantining and working from home brought about by the epidemic has seen consumers prefer loose and comfortable clothing that can be adapted to both home and office scenarios, and many brands have adjusted accordingly. The owner of the brand At Dawn said, "Our design was originally fashion-oriented, but this year we’ve used softer fabrics and made more adjustments for comfort so that our clothes can be both worn out and meet the requirement of comfort for working at home. Several of our silk dresses can even be worn as pajamas. "

The brand, MaQiAnShu, which specializes in customized high-end dresses priced from 10,000 to 20,000 yuan, has added special accessories, such as small jewelry items and hats with a price range of 100-3000 yuan.

High-end outdoor apparel brand, Trickcoo, whose popular jackets are priced from 3,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan, has decided to launch antibacterial sweaters in response to the epidemic. These will be priced at about 700 yuan.

The brand, JUNNE LAU, has launched a sub-line, JUNNE & Eva. The host said, "We have adopted the name Eva to appeal to younger, energetic women, and the brand positioning is younger. The main line of products carries four-digit price tags, and the secondary line is limited to three digits. In this way, we hope to increase the brand’s sales. Apart from launching the secondary line, we’ve also designed some very practical styles. "

MODE’s "Dual-track" Ordering System

In order to create a safe trading space this season, this year’s MODE Trade Fair implemented strict epidemic prevention and control measures, and the number of participating brands and visitors was reduced accordingly.

Fashion industry professionals accounted for 40% of the total number of participants on the first day of the trade fair, and many of them were from the supply chain field, as well as brand, media, and commercial real estate.

Luxe.CO learned that At Dawn, Flavors Don’t Lie, Nikita Cai, Capital K, Trickcoo, CREATORS SHOWROOM, and other brands and showrooms had reached an agreement to  cooperate with more buyers through this trade fair.

It was generally said that, although fewer people attended the MODE Trade Fair this year, buyers were more targeted when placing orders. Ma Xiang, the principal of CREATORS SHOWROOM, told Luxe.CO, "There were more than 50 new purchase inquiries this time, mainly from southern buyers. There were more purchase orders on the first day of this year than last year. The buyers’ goal is clear, the ordering is efficient, and it is a lot easier to do business."

Furthermore, brands like BYARN, STEVE & VIVIAN, Yan Wujie, and others have increased their sales channels in second- and third-tier cities. JUNNE, Melissa & Roselia, and other brands also discussed future cross-border cooperation plans with industry professionals at the MODE Trade Fair.

The MODE order system has fast-tracked the launch of the "cloud order" platform, mode:ec., in order to help brands and buyers who could not attend the event due to the epidemic.

After logging in to the "cloud order" system, buyers can search for related products by product classification, keywords and so on, or scan the QR code of specific products, enter the details page, and collect products or place orders. After joining the platform, a brand can see data such as visitors and product collections, and also automatically generate standardized electronic orders. According to official reports, mode:ec attracted 100 brands and more than 300 buyers only three days after being released.

Zhang Jie, director of the new MODE ordering project, told Luxe.CO, "mode:ec can be described as an e-commerce platform especially for buyers and brands. The mode:ec platform will continue to operate after the MODE Trade Fair so that brands can launch new products at their own pace."

This season's MODE Trade Fair also attempted to narrow the distance between the attendees and everyday consumers by cooperating with TikTok and Yi Live to open the cloud live room for the first time. Shanghai Radio and TV hosts, fashion anchors, and industry opinion leaders were invited to share their view of thecreative concepts of the participating brands with the wider public. In terms of this measure, the host of At Dawn told Luxe.CO, "Many viewers pay attention to these live broadcasts, and the anchors focus on introducing the brands’ style and design inspiration. This is a good opportunity to publicize and help more people understand our brand. "

| Photo Credit: Shanghai Fashion Week Committee

| Chinese Author: Yujia Bai

| Editor: Elisa

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