In 2020, all eyes have been on Mainland China, the market leading the way to recovery for international brands. This list provides an overview of brands home-grown brands founded in Mainland China that are finding their way in the international battlefield defeating also big conglomerates in specific sectors.
The list looks at both fashion and cosmetics and highlights the unique elements that have been building brand awareness in the local market and echoing cross-border.
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Chen Peng – Size & Gender Fluidity
Peng sets out to break fashion conventions, when it comes to size and sex.
“I want to bring the public a new way of aesthetics and break the current definition of ‘size,’” he said in 2018. “I don’t think fashion should be limited by [that].”
Having graduated from London College, he launched his own label in London in 2015. Known for his one-sized fashion, Peng is most recognized for his over the top supersized puffer jackets, which have been worn by celebrities all over the world such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna. His bold colorful astronaut-like, uber fashion forward creations have opened up collaborations with Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning and Alibaba.
Perfect Diary – The Glossier of China
From a beauty start-up to a cosmetics giant in just 4 years, Perfect Diary is a Guangzhou-based make-up brand founded by David Huang in 2016.
The brand captured the hearts of Millennials and Gen Z by offering a true fusion of west-east cosmetics at a wallet-friendly price tag. Following its online success, the beauty unicorn is now spreading its wings to offline presence. It opened 40 offline stores in 2019 and is planning to open 600 stores in China.
To excite its customers, Perfect Diary launched Collabs with the London British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to create lipsticks featuring royal portraits belonging to museum collections, including Louis XIV, Queen Victoria, and Napoleon. Another buzzing example is the collaboration with Discovery and National Geographic China where it creates eyeshadow palettes inspired from the savannah fauna and Chinese landscapes.
Masha Ma – Futuristic Femininity
With numerous fashion collaborations and her own label, Masha Ma is said to be one of China’s busiest designers. She started off her career after graduating from Central St Martins in London, as assistant to well-known designers Alexander McQueen and Veronique Branquinho in 2008.
Masha has collaborated with Neville Brody as early as 2010, Lane Crawford, and more recently with brands such as Kolon Sport, a Korean sportswear brand, an outerwear, and Chinese cosmetics retailer Harmay, to help them expand into fashion. She was also chosen to design the Chinese Olympic teams’ uniform for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Her own womenswear label’s creations are evolving, and is known on the runways for her tailoring and modern interpretation of futuristic femininity.
Pechoin – A Chinese Heritage Beauty Brand
Pechoin, a Chinese beauty heritage brand established in 1931 in Shanghai. The brand has quickly recruited a huge young customer base by deploying a 360 digital marketing strategy – from celebrity endorsement, KOL live-streaming, to social media engagement.
To further amplify its online community, Pechoin taps into the emerging gaming circle by sponsoring the first female electronic game competition in China.
Riding on the wave of national pride, the top-hit skincare giant ensures its brand image is closely linked to the Chinese culture. The marketing visuals utilize traditional Chinese elements to emphasize its long history. It also collaborated with Dunhuang Museum and Chow Tai Fook to create products that have distinctive Chinese features.
Angel Chen – Where East meets West
Angel Chen comes from a family where colours were ever-present, with her father working as a colour engineer. She also is very much in touch with culture, her own and that of Europe, which she discovered during her time at Central Saint Martins, which she integrated at 17 years of age.
After her studies, she worked with Marchesa, Vera Wang and Alexander Wang in New York. And a year after that, Chen launched her own label, immediately making an impact with her own style which brought together a fusion of east and west, through a colourful approach.
Chen boasts many ‘firsts’ for a young Chinese designer starting with collaborations with Urban Outfitters, H&M, Adidas and dressing celebrities like Bella Hadid, Chris Lee, Fan Bingbing. Her creations are inspired by Chinese elements from opera, literature, song or other cultural symbols, which she executed immaculately for her latest collaboration with Canada Goose for SS 2021.
Inoherb – The Pioneer Chinese Herbology Brand
Traditional Chinese medicine has long been recognised as an approach to health that treats the body as an organic whole. Inoherb, China’s second largest skincare brand by sales, has taken traditional Chinese medicine to new heights thanks to its innovative approach incorporating Chinese herbal ingredients into its skin care formula.
The brand was founded in 2000 by Feng Shuai, inspired by his grandfather who was a well-respected doctor deeply influenced by Chinese medicine.
The brand cooperates with Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to develop scientifically effective cosmetics that address the needs of the health conscious beauty market.
The company successfully went public in 2012. As a pioneering skincare brand that capitalises on traditional Chinese herbology, Inoherb is without doubt one of the top cosmetics brands that should be on radar.
Christine Lau, Chictopia – Quirk, fun, bold and feminine
Quirk, fun, bold, feminine, color and confidence are just a few of the words that can be used to describe Beijing-based designer Christine Lau’s brand.
Launched in 2009, this brand is now a favorite for some of China’s leading ladies, and resonates across many generations of women. The chictopia personality oozes that of its designer’s, with many of her prints hand drawn. Christine Lau knows her craft, having studied both weaving and printing skills during her studies at Central Saint Martins in London.
Chando – The Inclusive Brand
Founded in 2001, Chando is a Chinese natural beauty brand that frequently tops Tmall’s best-selling ranking. Chando put emphasis on the Chinese philosophy believe that humans and nature are deeply connected. It believes that ingredients harvested from the extreme conditions of the Himalayas are rich not only in their benefits but for the mysterious ancient local culture of the place as well. It appeals strongly to local young customers who are committed to green beauty.
The brand is also famed for its inclusive marketing strategy. “You are born to be beautiful with the world” is the brand’s primary belief. The brand celebrates women’s natural beauty.
About the author
A specialist communicator in the luxury sector, Anne Geronimi has held various management jobs in leading agencies over the last 20 years in Asia.
Today, she is the Group Communication Director of the Bluebell Group, leading Asian distributor and brand operator. Anne has worked with some of the world’s leading luxury groups and brands, from providing solutions for brand market entry, positioning and navigating complex issues in diverse socio-political environments through to digital evolution. A French national who grew up in Asia, Anne speaks fluent French, English and Mandarin.