Zara drops first Chinese designer crossover, teaming up with Susan Fang

Zara, the Spanish fast-fashion retailer, has teamed up with Susan Fang (a Chinese apparel brand) to bring its first major designer collaboration for the Chinese market. The new capsule collection was released on 17 January, as according to Zara’s announcement. This is a late but shrewd move by the international brand to tap into the fast-growing Chinese market and utilise a popular national chain to improve support and interest in the new product line.

While its rivals seem to be keener on collaborations, for example, H&M worked with the Chinese fashion designer Angel Chen for a 45-piece capsule collection as early as 2019, and then a gender-neutral collection with PRONOUNCE, a Chinese modern menswear brand in 2021. Zara appears to be more up for the game only since last year, with its first-ever collaboration with the American sportswear brand Everlast in January 2021.

Following this was a series of collaborations later in the same year, including Kassl Additions in September, Charlotte Gainsburg in October, and a Korean streetwear brand Ader Error in December. We can see that Zara’s experiments within this space have opened up the brand and clearly had positive effects, due to their willingness to engage more brands relatively quickly.

The drop of the new capsule around the coming Chinese New Year (1 February) has also strategically tapped into the most important celebration in China while leveraging one of the most innovative emerging Chinese designers. By choosing to collaborate at this time and with a Chinese brand they are able to jump on the guochao trend within China as well as fervour around the festival itself.

Susan Fang was founded in 2017 by the Chinese designer Yannan Fang, who has a track record of experience in fashion design, including being shortlisted for the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers in 2019. Born in China, Fang was brought up in Canada and the United States and studied fashion at Central Saint Martins in London.

With her Chinese heritage and a global experience, Fang’s involvement will help Zara penetrate the target consumers while maintaining the unique textures of the foreign brand. This will naturally allow the brand to appeal to the styles and culture of the market, whilst keeping the unique and fresh perspectives the Spanish brand will have by utilising its own fashion history.

In the meantime, the collaboration is a win-win that also benefits the Chinese brand. It is understood that the collection includes a total of 22 pieces, covering womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear. The diverse offers have allowed Susan Fang, a brand specialising in womenswear, to explore its potential and challenge itself on a wider range of design styles, which further would help the brand to broaden its consumer base, therefore, creating new avenues for revenue.

The latest move by Zara has indicated that collaboration with Chinese brands continues to be an important pathway for global labels in localising their products and, therefore, speaking to their target audience in China. As a result, international brands have also been showing a growing appetite for such practice in order not to miss out on the race in one of the most lucrative markets in the world. 

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