How many meanings does “bao” have? Michael Kors launches bakery with BAsDBAN

On 12 April, Designer fashion label Michael Kors brought a bakery to Shanghai to promote its latest denim bags. In collaboration with local croissant connoisseurs BAsDBAN, the brand features giant handbag-shaped and denim-textured croissant statues in the front yard of the coffee shop and bakery. On launch day, the brand invited actress Bai Lu to be the “manager of the day” at the location. Michael Kors also prepared 50cm giant croissants as free gifts to visitors. The pop-up space will last until 21 April.

What is the connection between handbags and pastries, you ask? The tagline “一起来买包” (Let’s buy “bao” together) gives a bit of a hint. It is another play on words with “包” which can mean several things, other than the commonly known meaning as Chinese-style buns, it can also mean bags and bread (including pastry). This is Michael Kors trying to tap into the meme and pun culture of younger audiences, which is the target audience for the denim bag.

The café and bakery BAsDBAN was founded in 2020. The name is a transliteration of “巴适得板”, a Sichuan expression for feeling good and comfortable, in the superlative degree. BAsDBAN is known for its brutalist reimagining of a historical building by Dongqi Design, as well as its graphic design, with typeface inspired by the right-handed designer Lin Tao’s left-hand handwriting. Interestingly, on 10 April, BAsDBAN posted on WeChat that the café had been “block booked” (被“包“了) as a teaser for the takeover It brings out a third meaning of “包”, meaning block booking.

For fashion brands, bringing co-branded pop-up spaces to coffee shops is not uncommon, especially in Shanghai, stereotypically known for its “xiaozi” (小资, lit. petite bourgeoisie) lifestyle. Louis Vuitton and Gucci both collaborated with local coffee shops for their pop-ups, while Max Mara and Valentino Beauty teamed up with South Korean bakery Butterful & Creamorous (B&C). Giant croissants have been viral for a while and Gentle Monster has already brought croissant-themed installations to its NuDake café in Shanghai. Michael Kors, with its light-hearted and punny copy, is aiming at a younger but equally lifestyle-savvy audience than the luxury fashion houses.


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