Over 10 years ago, fashion entrepreneur Tasha Liu came up with the idea of running the independent designer fashion scene in Shanghai. Now, more than a decade later, with hundreds of fashion designers building the clothing capital, that vision is beginning to bear fruit. Under the LABELHOOD banner, Liu and her team have slowly grown the fashion movement with a retail empire at its core.
In December, it opened its first store outside of Shanghai, and chose Shenzhen – known as China’s Silicon Valley. This luxury new store is the company’s first commercial project in a mall in Vientiane Qianhai Shopping Center in Nanshan District. On January 10, it unveiled its first menswear space, which also launched a host of initiatives for the Chinese New Year. This last door will hold men’s favorites like Feng Chen Wang, Xander Zhou, and Private Policy, along with other local street style names.
What is that:
LABELHOOD is a self-styled cultural community that connects creative designers with young Chinese consumers. It does this through events, retail experiences, and brand incubation. With a workforce of 70 including sales staff, LABELHOOD now counts eight retail spaces in total including a flagship, a VIP home, and several pop-ups.
During the season, talents are showcased during Shanghai Fashion Week and Youtopia Festival as well as running the Lab, a buyers showroom featuring 30 AW22 posters. It also acts as a 360-degree brand incubator, mentors and incubators for talent, takes designers to market, and collaborates with international B2B and B2C counterparts such as Pitti Uomo, Tomorrow Showroom and Machine-A. LABELHOOD has online stores on Tmall, WeChat Mini Program and several UGC publications on Xiaohongshu.
why does it matter:
The growth of new Chinese brands has been phenomenal. According to a report by éCLAIR, there was an average 30 percent year-over-year increase in Shanghai business between 2011 and 2018. Now these designers are building strong companies like Angel Chen, Comme Moi, and Shushu/Tong. At the same time, the power of luxury consumption in China has grown exponentially during that period. In addition to, China will account for nearly half of everyone my world By 2025, nearly 80 percent of this spending will be spent by people under the age of 40.
With its proximity to emerging designers and originality in the local market, LABELHOOD has been ideally positioned to capitalize on the driving engine of this increase. As the country developed economically and generationally, so did its business model with it, offering over time a cultural destination for hordes of “Zhai” (or 宅) Generation Z is looking for new but local names. This collective mentality comes to the fore in cultural performances such as fairs and festivals, or can be found in clothing fashions that tap into online interests including hanfu, fantasy and body positivity.
By the time the pandemic changed the interests of young shoppers, the agile platform was better positioned to meet the growing demand for Guochao and local — filling it with C-brands in its own stores and online as well as through its network of 300 retailers spread across the country. Founder Liu explained, “During these past two years, designers have been more exposed to the everyday life of the public, and this has provided the opportunity for growth…not only in branding and awareness but also in the maturity of merchandise.”
Why it works:
According to Yishu Wang, co-founder of the Chinese marketing agency, Half A World, LABELHOOD not only has a clear idea of who the target consumers are, but also what they want and where they are. “Through active and brand-wide marketing and retail practices both online and offline, they have been able to attract the kind of customers they want. LABELHOOD makes sure they are friendly and happy to try new things.” This includes working with China’s largest live broadcaster Li Jiaqi to do SHFW’s “See Now, Buy Now” show, and fun collaborations across “Fashion, Art & Lifestyle”. Wang points to a recent one that has the perfect notes on the Labelhood Festival.
The young consumer is the driving force behind luxury fashion consumption. Brands need to understand them, connect with them, and follow them wherever they are — almost and IRL. The success of Labehood shows the booming growth of Chinese designers as well as the demand for the New Chinese style or Xinzhongshi offered by the Labelhood Group.