Way of the china dragon: how Zara and Xi Xing Le took over Shanghai this CNY

Key Takeaways:

  • Zara and Chinese Lifestyle label Xi Xing Le collaborate for a CNY collection that combines traditional mythical elements with modern designs.
  • The collection was accompanied by a pop-up store and themed store decoration, as well as pink dragon floats which took over the internet.
  • Xi Xing Le is an advocate of the “New Chinese Style”. The collaboration is the fast fashion brand’s attempt at further localising in China and bringing Chinese designers to a wider audience.

In early January, international fast fashion giant Zara unveiled its collaboration collection with the Chinese lifestyle label and chinaware maker Xi Xing Le. First teased at the China International Import Expo (CIIE), this collaboration marks the fashion brand’s third collaboration with a Chinese designer, after Susan Feng and Calvin Luo. The collection was also accompanied by a pop-up concept store in Shanghai, as well as themed store decoration in other cities.

This collaboration marks Zara’s third collaboration with a Chinese designer

Chinese Mythology

The theme of the co-branded collection is “Chinese Mythology”. The design takes inspiration from traditional mythical motifs such as the dragon, the qilin, the flat peach, the calabash, the pine and the cypress, as well as butterflies. Xi Xing Le’s pink dragon featured heavily in the collection, including 899 RMB (124.99 USD) decorative pieces and 999 RMB (138.90 USD) ice buckets. Meanwhile, peach graphics appeared on many of the garments.

According to an interview with Xi Xing Le founders Luo Hui and Wang Jing, peaches in the collection signify family reunion and food, which are very important themes for Chinese New Year. The collection continues Xi Xing Le’s pinkish pastel colour scheme with its traditional-meets-modern designs.

The collection continues Xi Xing Le’s pinkish pastel colour scheme with traditional-meets-modern designs

The comprehensive collection covers fashion for men and women, accessories and homeware, which is the designer lifestyle label’s strong suit. Luo Hui and Wang Jing explain that the inclusion of garments is because the brand’s designer Renee is adept with clothing design, having run her personal fashion brand for years.

Urban Legend

Between 12 and 21 January, the co-branded campaign also included concept Zara stores in the theme of Xi Xing Le designs. Zara shops in Taikoo Li Chengdu, Wangfujing in Beijing, and Mixworld Shenzhen were all decorated in the style of the team-up. At the same time, a pop-up location that provided an immersive Zara x Xi Xing Le experience was set up in Anfu Road, Shanghai. The Shanghai pop-up space required a reservation on Zara’s WeChat Mini Program to visit.

In the meantime, three videos were circulated online from Zara and Xi Xing Le. It shows floats decorated as Xi Xing Le’s iconic pink dragon wandering the streets of Shanghai and one giant pink porcelain dragon cruising down Suzhou Creek. Eagle-eyed netizens quickly pointed out that the waves behind the dragon looked unnatural while the floats were freely running red lights, concluding that the dragons could be CGI or AI-generated.

New Chinese Style

Founded in 2011, Xi Xing Le is a prominent label in the “New Chinese Style” movement

Founded in 2011, Xi Xing Le is a prominent label in the “New Chinese Style” movement. Taking inspiration from hand-crafted chinaware of the 1960s, the brand brings new and contemporary ideas to the long tradition of porcelain-making, such as adopting a pink, purple and green-based pastel palette.

For the campaign, Zara invited supermodel Mao Xiaoxing as its ambassador for the co-branded collection. Mao participated in a photoshoot showing off the collection and joined Zara on her first-ever livestream.

Speaking of livestreams, Zara’s high production value, high-quality session from its November livestream, featuring supermodel You Tianyi provided a new baseline for fashion livestreams.

Xi Xing Le, or more specifically its designer Renee, has also recently teamed up with Chagee to design a screen and merch for its campaign with ELLE and Gong Jun. Xi Xing Le is apparently growing in profile in the world of fashion.

However, on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the topic “Zara Xi Xing Le” (#zara喜行乐#) gained a moderate 1.07 million views. It would seem that Xi Xing Le is still relatively niche, even among Chinese audiences. Zara’s co-branding effort, in this sense, not only further localises its brand with the traditional elements of Xi Xing Le, but brings the designer brand to wider audiences, both domestic and abroad.