MFW kicked off with mature minimalism, Y2K fever and Gucci striking social media gold

At the start of Milan Fashion Week, as some Chinese KOLs and celebrities arrived, it was clear that the large pre-COVID Chinese contingent was missing. So how have the shows fared in the mighty Chinese market? Which brands have hit the jackpot globally but failed in China and vice versa?

Lefty’s comparison of Earned Media Value (EMV) during fashion week offers key insights. The top five performing brands for China during Milan Fashion Week were Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Fendi and Versace (in that order), while the global rankings placed Prada at the top, followed by Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, BOSS and Versace.

Chinese favorites like Gucci, Prada and Fendi continue to perform well due to strong multi-level connections with the local market and community; the trio of Italian powerhouses generated a combined EMV of over $31.74 million in the country. At number two, Moncler peaked with $9.44 million in EMV due to key Chinese celebrity nominations, strong growth and a loyal consumer base, although it did not feature in the top 5 in the world rankings. Meanwhile, Dolce & Gabbana’s popularity in China is still impacted, and BOSS posted a surprising global EMV metric.

Here we look at five key brands from Milan’s first half:

Gucci

Alessandro Michele unveiled his latest fashion show on two catwalks, each mirroring the other. Photo: Gucci

The talk of the town was #GucciTwinsbury where the brand chose 68 twins from around the world as models. And with plenty of Asian and Chinese sartorial references (like the qipao) on the catwalk, Alessandro Michele managed to showcase a range of cultural melting pot that felt like innovation rather than appropriation. Another sign that the brand is redoubling its commitment to the Chinese market is its growing number of local brand ambassadors, including Xiao Zhan, Cecilia Song and Venda Li, all of whom have sent out video invites on Weibo. Xiao Zhan’s invite generated significant traffic, with a post generating $4.93 million in EMV, or 28% of Gucci’s total EMV. Recognizing that most Chinese viewers cannot travel to watch the shows, Gucci held a screening of its show in Beijing, which entertained and ignited guests.

The live-streamed show was posted on Weibo and garnered nearly 47.5 million views according to Lefty ⁠—as well as Tencent’s Super QQ Show. “Thanks to these efforts, Gucci skyrocketed to the top as the No. 1 brand in Milan Fashion Week China in terms of Earn Media Value (EMV),” Lefty’s report said.

Mid-week, when asked what was his most memorable moment from Milan Fashion Week, Yuyu Zhangzou (one of the few Chinese KOLs who managed to make it to the Italian city) said Daily Jing it was Gucci. “We were all like ‘wow’ and super excited for the show. I can’t lie, I almost cried, I had tears in my eyes during the whole thing,” she says. “I can’t really find the words to describe how I felt. That moment really reminded me why I still work in this industry…and why I love fashion so much…These moments make you so alive. It’s something so strong that hits your heart and your brain.

Prada

Looks from the Prada women’s fashion show, “Touch of Crude”. Photo: Prada

The Prada duo of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons offered a touch of domestic turmoil that blended the primitive and the perverse. There were references to vintage eras like the 50s and 60s, as well as a 90s Addams Family goth vibe in this collection titled “Touch of Crude,” defined by form-fitting shapes, stitching, thigh-high slits and a moody palette (barring a few welcome bumps of highlighter hues). Although “a fan favorite in both East and West, Prada ranked lower in China than its previous Menswear SS23 presentation in Milan in June,” reported Lefty, who speculates that the main Contributing factor to the drop could have been “a lack of a meaty media campaign on Chinese social media…and the brand’s loss of its most critical ambassador Li Yifeng days before Milan Fashion Week.

However, it is doubtful that the brand will lose any real appeal; Prada has a strong presence in China and is respected from generation to generation. A newly appointed Chinese ambassador, actress Chun Xia, even made her official debut at the Milan show. The luxury brand also partnered with KOLs on Weibo like @希林娜依高, @李一桐Q, @乔欣Bridgette, and more who invited fans to watch the livestream.

Diesel

Diesel’s MFW show featured lots of denim and the world’s largest inflatable sculpture. Photo: Diesel

Boasting Milan’s biggest fashion show, Diesel invited the public and students from Italian fashion schools to watch alongside industry insiders in a 5,000-seat stadium – a move aimed at further democratizing fashion. access to fashion. A huge inflatable sculpture of intertwined bodies made for a centerpiece around which the models walked. The denim-rooted fashion label hit the nail on the head of the ’90s with a collection that capitalizes on fashion’s current Y2K craze, adored by China’s Gen Z and beyond.

Creative director Glenn Martens works his magic, harnessing the zeitgeist while creating elevation through sophisticated, multi-textured fabrications, with dramatic denim fringe being the most memorable and daring. The dangerously low waistbands, the aesthetic shadow of Julia Fox (who attended the show) and the classic Diesel logo here and there also recalled the brand’s heyday in the 90s. Energetic and hectic start to Fashion Week from Milan, the show reminded people that the Italian fashion capital could be as conceptually daring as Paris when it wanted to play that card. Chinese Diesel fans should not be disappointed next spring.

Max Mara

Max Mara’s Spring 2023 runway featured sailor pants, halter tops and floppy hats. Photo: Max Mara

On the other side of the aesthetic spectrum, Max Mara’s serene SS23 offering evoked the elegant aristocrats and bohemians flocking to the Riviera – epitomized by this season’s muse Renee Perle, in love with Jacque-Henri Lartigue. Huge sun hats and scarves, languid halter tops, flowing skirts and sailor pants all evoke a curvy, sun-kissed femininity that will strike the chords of China’s jetsetter, especially those drawn to graceful vacations and dress of summer. This collection soothed and smoothed, and avoided any sort of dramatic harshness. The sensual wearability of the garments and those flattering silhouettes will no doubt work well in retail when the items hit the shelves.

Fendi

Fendi also tapped into the Y2K trend for its latest collection. Photo: Fendi

Drizzled with vibrant mint green, silky neutrals and ivory, Fendi’s SS23 collection champions modern femininity and functionality. It was an easy-to-wear assortment with striking details such as Crocs-like green rubber platforms and a Japanese-inspired pleated waistband tied at the back. Recording an impressive EMV rating of $6.33 million among Chinese consumers, it slipped into fourth place among Milanese brands. On the mainland, the brand engaged ambassadors Zhang Ruoyun, Tang Yixin and other high-profile celebrities on Weibo to invite fans to watch the show online. Several KOLs were also present in person, such as Mr. Bags, who kept a close eye on the accessories offered in this young and commercially strong SS23 collection from artistic director Kim Jones.

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