Shine CHAT Issue 1. Only designing and manufacturing trendy streetwear a trend that won’t last

Shine CHAT Issue 1

 
Only designing and manufacturing trendy streetwear: a trend that won’t last.

 

 

Green Xia
Founder of Shine Marketplace

Hello everybody, my name is Green, and welcome to Shine chat.

For those of you not familiar, let me introduce myself. In 2008, I became passionate about the streetwear and sneaker industry and decided to get involved. I graduated college in 2015 and moved to Los Angeles, the birth city of street culture and streetwear. Along with two friends, I opened a streetwear retailer in the Fairfax District (the holy grail of streetwear) called Solestage. We later launched America’s first Chinese streetwear retailer, Shine Marketplace, also in the Fairfax District. 


These two stores are neighbors to renowned streetwear stores like Supreme, Diamond, Bape, and legendary sneaker retailer Flightclub. 


Competing with them helped me learn a lot about how the industry works, how to grow one’s business, and how to succeed in this industry. Here, I am going to discuss the current status and standing of Chinese streetwear, as well as the difficulties of globally expanding Chinese streetwear in today’s climate.

Chinese streetwear is very foreign to the majority of streetwear enthusiasts and their community, especially internationally. It’s safe to say that aside from Chinese people, no one knows about Chinese streetwear. Besides CLOT, most streetwear aficionados most likely couldn’t name another Chinese streetwear brand, and probably only know CLOT from their collaborations with Nike. As for CLOT’s own pieces, most people wouldn’t deliberately wear them. 

    Chinese streetwear is very foreign to the majority of streetwear enthusiasts and their community, especially internationally.

However, someone asked me, “Isn’t Lining breaking the trend and becoming increasingly popular? They were featured in NYFW two years in a row.” That’s true - getting featured and highlighted in NYFW was big for Lining. It gave them an opportunity to showcase their unique designs, concepts, and high quality materials. Lining even started endorsing American celebrities. 


However, when customers walk into their stores, they still aren't buying. In the end, the harsh reality is that the brand is still under the radar and unable to grow in this market. In my opinion, the reason behind the slow and stagnant growth of Chinese streetwear is neglecting to develop a brand identity, which lacks a very important component - culture. This stems from the current methods and strategies that most Chinese streetwear brands utilize when establishing a brand (the complete opposite of developing a culture). Brand identity is the crucial backbone of any brand, not just clothing and apparel.

I believe one of the biggest obstacles that Chinese streetwear faces is relying on the platform too much. We embark on entrepreneurial ventures to make money; taking advantage of available technology and using different outlets and platforms can accelerate and ease the money making process. Platforms with large amounts of users means large amounts of traffic, and they provide resources. Even better, some platforms offer courses on marketing and education about running an online retail store. 


Under such “support” and availability of resources, a brand that starts from absolutely nothing can quickly gain traffic, even becoming profitable in a short period of time. However, this is also the exact reason why the Chinese streetwear market segment is so oversaturated. Even with high barriers of entry, there is an influx of Chinese streetwear brands every day, vastly increasing the level of competition in an already competitive industry. The unreasonable competition I refer to is a direct reflection of a brand neglecting the importance of developing a strong brand identity and culture.


Think about it: customers have lots of options to choose from in the Chinese streetwear market due to so many brands emerging left and right. As for the brand, it doesn’t matter how unique the designs are or how nice the material is - due to the competitive nature of this market, every brand needs to lower their price and find themself in a price war just for survival. Once a price war begins, the constant lowering of prices means mass production and designing only what’s trendy, basically copying what everyone else is doing. No matter how prestigious or well-known the brand may be, lowering prices and mass producing is almost necessary in such a competitive environment in the market. 

    The unreasonable competition I refer to is a direct reflection of a brand neglecting the importance of developing a strong brand identity and culture.

To be honest, if we are just considering material and design, Chinese streetwear isn’t any worse than major streetwear brands; so why does a different logo have to drive down the price so much? One of the main reasons is the brand instilling value on its consumers. 


In the US, most streetwear brands will only distribute extremely exclusive items (or items that won’t even be released) to these e-commerce platforms. Most of their other pieces will be listed on their own websites. The priority for these brands is to establish a strong brand identity and culture so people wearing them can relate to the brand, or feel represented by something meaningful. These brands care about their culture fitting in and catering to the platform they use for promotion and sale. In the short run, yes, this method probably requires a lot of capital, resources, and time, but to generate longevity, all brands should take this route. 


I really do hope that Chinese streetwear designers and brand owners realize this. Making trendy items will make you quick money, but not in the long run. Chinese streetwear brands need to avoid platforms that aren’t in sync with the culture they are trying to curate. Making money is the foundation of any business, but they should ultimately strive for developing a brand with bigger intentions (versus solely making money). Attracting customers with the culture should be ingrained in the brand. 


If it takes ten years for a Chinese brand to actually make it and flourish in the streetwear scene, so be it, because I know it’s going to gain the respect and hype it deserves. Good things take time. No famous brands that we all love today became successful overnight. Supreme started in 1994 as a skateboarding brand, and it took them years of nonstop hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears to be at the pinnacle of streetwear, collaborating with LV and other renowned brands. 

    No famous brands that we all love today became successful overnight. 

My message will only be meaningful to those who truly understand what I am trying to convey and to those who have the patience to develop their brands step by step. If you only want to make quick money, everything I’ve just said probably means nothing to you. However, if you are one of the many who wants to make an influential streetwear brand that everyone loves, I hope you continue to follow me on this journey. I will share industry knowledge and personal experience that may not necessarily guarantee you success, but you will surely benefit from.


中文版本: . 只会做爆款的潮牌,长期必败

大家好,我是夏嘉欢,欢迎来到Shine CHAT。


有很多人一直私信我,想了解如何创立自己的潮流品牌。所以从这一期开始到接下来的几期,我想通过我多年的实战经验给大家分享一些潮流创业的干货。


对于不了解我的听众,我先介绍一下我的背景,我从2008年开始接触潮流行业,2015大学毕业后,我来到街头文化的起源地洛杉矶和两个朋友在fairfax潮流圣地开设了潮流买手店Solestage,随后也是在fairfax开设了全美第一家国潮集合店Shine Marketplace。和我在同一条街做邻居的不仅有街头潮牌的龙头老大Supreme,Diamond,Bape,也有传奇买手店Flightclub。通过与他们同场竞技,我学到了很多商业知识,了解了他们如何成功。今天呢,我就从国潮的现况开始说起,我想让大家知道一下当下国潮出海的困境。


国潮在国外的知名度是很低的,可以说几乎为零。除了clot之外,大部分在美国的潮流爱好者说不出第二个中国潮牌的名字。而且即使是CLOT,消费者所购买的往往也只是NIke x CLOT的联名,对于纯粹CLOT的服装,外国人是非常少主动上身的。


有人问我 “我看到中国李宁这两年在纽约办的时装周不是风生水起吗?” 关于这个,首先我想说的是,现在的时装周是有钱就能参与的show。而从2019的中国李宁纽约时装周能看出(因为那次活动与Solestage合作了),虽然他们能通过走秀让外国人看到产品的精美设计和优质用料,也能看到咱们有美国的巨星代言宣传,但是外国人走进店里,他们依然不会买单,品牌依然无法真正打开市场,这就是现实。在我看来,这其中的原因就是在品牌发展中,我们国潮缺乏了最重要的一点 —— 品牌文化。而这也能归根究底于目前的国潮发展形式,是和发展品牌文化背道而驰的。


我认为当下压在国潮发展身上的一座大山就是“平台化”。创业是为了赚钱,这无可厚非,而平台则声称他们能帮助品牌迅速的完成这一点。确实,他们把握着客户和资源,还有专业课程教你如何“引流”,如何做市场营销,如何做店铺运营。在这样的“扶持”下,一个从零开始的品牌能迅速开始吸引流量,甚至获得盈利。然而,也正因为如此,国潮品牌门槛低,品牌一窝蜂的扎堆,层次不齐,还会出现不合理竞争。而我这里说的不合理竞争就是针对品牌文化出发的。


可以试想一下,在这样鱼龙混杂的国潮市场里,消费者的选择众多;对于优质品牌而言,不管他们的设计有创新、质量有多好,都必须压低产品价格,打价格战,才能更好地吸引流量。而一旦打响价格战,品牌就必须走量,出爆款。不管是多好的品牌,在这样的市场环境下大部分也必须开始产出爆款,低价大量,贱卖自己的品牌。


事实上,目前大部分国潮的质量和设计,不会比任何海外的潮流大品牌差。那为什么只是印上了不同的logo,价格就会差几倍?品牌自身给予消费者的价值就是决定性因素之一。


在美国,大部分品牌仅会将少量(甚至没有)产品给予这类综合性平台销售,大部分产品都会在品牌官方网站和经过筛选过的销售渠道上发售。品牌很在乎自己的品牌文化是不是能和平台相符合。确实,这样在短时间的纬度上看,的确会花费品牌更多的精力,但是长远来说,这是成就一个好的品牌的必经之路。


而我希望国潮创业者也能明白这一点。做爆款的确会在短期赚钱,但是于品牌而言,长期必败。国潮需要脱离不适合自己品牌文化的平台,用心做品牌,通过自身去吸引用户。哪怕10年磨一剑,只要能做出来,那就是国潮出海No.1。我虽然不是一个设计师,但是研究了无数品牌。以往众多例子都能证明,成功的品牌都不是一夜成功的。Supreme 在 1994 年便作为滑板诞生,但也是直到近几年才由于于LV的合作,真正登上潮流之巅。


只有对于明白这一些,沉得住气做品牌的人,我将要分享的干货才有意义,如果你只是想通过潮流迅速赚钱,那这一系列的内容对你而言可能并无意义;但如果你想打造一个有影响力的潮牌,我希望你能继续关注,我接下去的分享的内容不一定能保你成功,但我可以保证你会受用,因为我将要分享的都是行业内,我身边最真实的例子。


我们下期见。


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