Twenty-somethings in China have moved at lightning speed into a digital-first future, but now they’re hungering to connect with their nation’s complex past. The coolest domestic brands in food, fashion, and beauty are taking note.
As Chinese New Year approaches, international brands are trying (and often failing) to relate to Chinese millennials with their own limited-edition collections that borrow Chinese cultural motifs and stereotypes. But domestically, brands have been embarking on cross-generational collaborations that honor specific historical periods and ethnic groups, as well as updating ancient traditions and time-honored brands.
Cult beverage brand HeyTea had no sooner swept through China’s cafe scene with a buzzworthy twist on an ancient custom than it collaborated with Pechoin, a Shanghai skincare label that, had it been a mere year earlier, most millennials would have called outdated. Pechoin first debuted in the 1930s, and HeyTea’s creative team gave the iconic imagery of the decade a contemporary makeover via a series of quirky illustrations for a nostalgia-laden campaign on WeChat. For two days in October, customers could visit HeyTea’s “Cheese Bus” where they could buy a set of exclusive Pechoin products and sample new drink flavors.