Dior brought a horse face skirt on fire?

From a Dior skirt priced at 29000 yuan per piece to a horse face skirt market worth hundreds of millions of yuan, it has been brewing for nearly two years.

Almost everyone clearly realized before and after this year’s Spring Festival that there has been a visible increase in the number of horse faced skirts embroidered with exquisite Chinese traditional patterns, whether in traditional historical sites or on ordinary urban roads.

This feeling is not unfounded.

Recently, Caoxian County, located in Heze City, Shandong Province, has been on the microblog hot search due to the explosive increase in the number of orders for horse face skirts. According to CCTV news reports, during the Spring Festival, Caoxian County’s sales of horse face skirts dominated the Year of the Loong New Year clothes exceeded 300 million yuan.

According to Magic Mirror Insight data, in January 2024, the Hanfu half skirt, which also focuses on horse face skirts, recorded sales of over 300 million yuan on Taobao platforms, accounting for nearly 90% of the entire Hanfu category.

During last year’s Tmall Double 11 shopping festival, Taobao sold over 730000 horse faced skirts, surpassing popular items such as outdoor jackets and old money style knitwear, and was named one of the top 10 items on Taobao in 2023 with the highest ranking in the clothing category.

According to the data, horse faced skirts were mainly popular in the Ming and Qing dynasties, generally in a two-piece style, with smooth front and back and pleated left and right, which is a typical Hanfu shape.

In the eyes of industry insiders, the source of the current surge in sales of horse faced skirts is the accidental Dior horse faced skirt incident.

In July 2022, Dior’s half length skirt priced at 29000 yuan sparked controversy on social media. Some netizens pointed out that the skirt was similar to the traditional Chinese horse face skirt, while Dior not only did not specify that the dress was inspired by Chinese traditional culture, but also referred to it as “Dior’s iconic silhouette.”.

Although Dior did not respond positively to this incident and removed the dress, the controversy has attracted the attention of people in various fields on Chinese social media. A nationwide discussion about plagiarism and cultural appropriation has sparked enthusiasm among netizens for protecting traditional ethnic costumes.

Among them, “the best way to protect is to wear it” has become the main slogan for the revival of horse face skirts, promoting more and more traditional culture enthusiasts to wear horse face skirts on various occasions and display them on social media to promote ethnic costumes.

At this point, the influence of the horse faced skirt began to ferment outward from the originally niche Hanfu circle.

Subsequently, actors such as Xu Jiao, Yang Mi, Yang Zi, and Chen Duling frequently appeared in front of the camera wearing horse faced skirts, further increasing the exposure of horse faced skirts in the public eye and even directly promoting the sales of related products.

Data shows that Yang Mi’s horse faced skirt, which she wore in November last year, has twice made it into the top three on the Taobao celebrity same style list within a week. Currently, sales of the same style, priced at nearly 800 yuan, have exceeded 3000 pieces.

Analysts have pointed out that the reason why the horse faced skirt became the first single item to enter the mass market in Hanfu is not only due to the influence of the Dior incident and celebrity sales, but also because it can adapt to more everyday life scenes compared to other styles and is easier to match with common clothing such as shirts and coats.

According to Qiangua data, as of the end of February 2024, the number of notes on horse face skirts on Xiaohongshu exceeded 1.05 million and is still increasing month by month. Apart from sharing the wearing of horse faced skirts for formal occasions such as weddings and graduation ceremonies, most posts place horse faced skirts in real-life settings.

This means that within two years, the horse faced skirt has completed the transformation from a specific clothing to a regular dress, taking a crucial step towards breaking through the niche circle of traditional ethnic clothing.

Although in the Chinese market, the emphasis on local culture has become a clich é for both domestic and luxury brands.

But aside from the superficial Chinese limited edition series and the mediocre collaborations with intangible cultural heritage craftsmanship, the fashion industry has never witnessed traditional elements truly entering the commercial market in a broad sense before.

However, rather than saying that the popularity of horse faced skirts is a long tail effect of accidental events, it can be said that it is an inevitable phenomenon in the Chinese fashion industry.

Breaking away from the single category of horse faced skirts, the new Chinese style, which is more broadly defined but also based on traditional aesthetics, is leading the trend, driving brands such as MS MIN, Samuel Gui Yang, YUEQI QI, M Essential, and others that combine Chinese style with high-end fashion into the eyes of consumers.

As early as in the trend report released by Little Red Book in early 2022, New Chinese Style took over China-Chic, which is dominated by element collage, and became the representative of Chinese style. In 2023, two years later, the new Chinese style has become a well deserved annual trend on social media.

Data shows that in 2023, the volume of notes related to the new Chinese style on Xiaohongshu increased by over 390%, while the total amount of interaction increased by nearly 190%. Currently, there are over 2.6 million notes related to it. On Tiktok, another social media platform, the broadcast volume under the topic of “new Chinese style clothing” has even exceeded 10 billion.

According to data released by Tmall Life Research Institute in March 2023, the transaction volume of the new Chinese style has increased by more than 50% year-on-year, and the market size has reached 1 billion yuan.

In addition to various data, the recent rise of the Chinese old money trend also indirectly proves the popularity of the new Chinese style. On the basis of the new Chinese style, the Chinese old money style has evolved from the old money style, usually using traditional luxury fabrics such as Song brocade and Su embroidery, as well as high-end handicrafts, with a more luxurious overall style.

As a branch of the new Chinese style, the emergence of the Chinese old money style means that the new Chinese style has developed segmented markets for different consumer groups, which is a sign of the further maturity of this style market.

It is worth noting that the Shanghai Fashion Week, which will be held from March 25th to April 1st, will have the theme of “Chain Elephant Brings New Life”, and the new Chinese style will be one of the key focuses. Many local new Chinese brands will join this year’s fashion week to hold fashion shows.

The development from slogans to products that are paid for by consumers does indeed require a long process, and even sustainable development, which has been regarded as the core issue of the fashion industry in the past decade, has not made substantial progress.

However, in the macro trend of increasing national confidence, traditional clothing will inevitably replace some inherent aesthetics due to the continuous stacking of public emotions, and eventually merge into mainstream styles in some form, such as horse faced skirts and new Chinese styles.

In this process, if Dior’s horse faced skirt incident was the catalyst for widely igniting national emotions, then the Chinese consumers’ aversion and resistance to some arrogant looks partially played a catalytic role.

In November 2018, before the large-scale fashion show hosted by Dolce&Gabbana, the insulting remarks of brand founder and creative director Stefano Gabbana were exposed, causing a public uproar. The fashion show was forced to be cancelled temporarily, and the celebrity KOLs publicly broke with the brand.

After the biggest crisis in China’s fashion industry in recent years, many industry insiders have directly sentenced Dolce&Gabbana to death for their future in the Chinese market.

In the following five years, although Dolce&Gabbana sought opportunities to make a comeback in the Chinese market through marketing activities, exhibitions, and other means, the brand CEO also participated in cultural tours in Xi’an, Beijing, and Shanghai shortly after the incident to learn Chinese culture, but the results were minimal.

To this day, Dolce&Gabbana are still in the sensitive penalty area. Recently, @ Yitiao spicy cc, a blogger with millions of followers on Xiaohongshu, was questioned by the public for being invited to participate in the Dolce&Gabbana 2024 autumn/winter fashion show. His actions such as posting relevant photos on Instagram instead of Xiaohongshu and not apologizing immediately after being discovered have caused even greater backlash among netizens. At present, the blogger has not updated their account for nearly half a month.

From resisting Dolce&Gabbana, to the current popularity of horse faced skirts and new Chinese styles, Chinese consumers have significantly increased their confidence in national culture in recent years, and their attitudes towards traditional culture have gradually entered the dissemination stage from initial protection.

So, the once unshakable fashion communication chain centered around Europe was torn open.

The driving force behind this is not only from domestic consumers, but also related to the popularity of Chinese style on overseas social media.

In the past two years, as more and more overseas bloggers wear hanfu around the world, and some Chinese bloggers become popular, the popularity of Chinese traditional clothing on the overseas version of Tiktok TikTok has continued to soar, and many videos have even exceeded 10 million views.

Not only that, Chinese makeup with a natural and soft style is creating a trend of imitation in TikTok in the name of “dithering sound beauty makeup”. According to WGSN, a trend prediction website, as of September last year, TikTok had nearly 3 billion views of TikTok. Another data analysis and prediction agency, Spate, shows that the Google search volume of Dithering Beauty in the United States increased by 552.3% over the previous year, ranking first in the beauty trend.

Objectively speaking, no matter the effect caused by the horse face skirt, new Chinese style and Tiktok makeup, it is still far from breaking the original one-way communication and reconstructing the communication link of the oriental perspective.

But as the Chinese market shifts from manufacturing to creation, the Chinese fashion industry has developed local stories based on the image of passive fashion importers in the past, gradually gaining a certain say.

Although this kind of voice is not enough to overturn the existing industry structure now, it can force luxury brands to start an equal dialogue with the Chinese market.

In the past few years, the Chinese luxury goods market has witnessed brands continuously deepening their understanding of localization strategies, rather than just using them as marketing tactics. This is reflected in the increasing number of retail stores that integrate local culture, as well as local marketing strategies that can increasingly resonate with local consumers.

In the past the Year of the Loong marketing, most luxury brands almost got rid of the stereotype and devoted themselves to establishing deep contact with local consumers, or by means of artistic expression of the zodiac, or focusing on the most universal feelings of reunion during the Spring Festival, or focusing on traditional intangible cultural heritage handicrafts, starting from the inherent characteristics of Chinese culture and brand heritage, to create creative works that meet the aesthetic needs of local consumers.

Luxury brand Loewe has launched handbags, pendants, and jewelry inspired by “jade” during this year’s Spring Festival to pay tribute to the exquisite craftsmanship and texture colors of Chinese jade carving. In the eyes of industry insiders, this series is Loewe’s second attempt at cross-border Chinese culture after receiving high praise for its monochrome glaze series.

In November 2022, Loewe launched the 2023 Early Spring collection inspired by Chinese monochrome glaze, selecting ten traditional Chinese colors including light blue, white, and blush from the clear glaze colors, and incorporating them into the design of brand ready to wear clothing and iconic bags such as Puzzle, Hammock, Flamenco, etc., aiming to pay tribute to the minimalist ceramic aesthetics of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

This Chinese culture series has received almost overwhelming praise on social media. Some netizens have bluntly stated that Loewe can be regarded as one of the most successful local marketing cases for luxury brands in China. Not only does it avoid color schemes that are incompatible with the brand’s aesthetic system in essay writing, but it also closely adheres to traditional Chinese cultural heritage.

Undoubtedly, Loewe has found a marketing method that connects Chinese culture and the creative lineage of the brand itself, providing a benchmark demonstration for localized marketing of luxury brands. The positive feedback from local consumers towards truly good creativity also helps the industry further recognize the growth of the Chinese market.

In May of this year, Balenciaga plans to hold the Spring 25 Series debut fashion show in Shanghai. Unlike most luxury brands holding fashion shows in the Chinese market, the location in Shanghai means a global perspective from the Chinese market.

The popularity of horse faced skirts and new Chinese styles represents the burst of local content, while Loewe and Balenciaga’s creativity represents the interpretation of Chinese culture from a global perspective today.

Under the dual driving force, China is no longer just playing a role in the consumer market, but deserves continuous cultural investment and direct dialogue from luxury brands to continuously adapt to the reshaping of the new industry landscape.

The horse faced skirt is just the beginning.

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