Wednesday, 29 February 2012

When fashion embraces culture!

When the curtain of New York fashion week has dropped down for two weeks, the buzz around exquisite fashion elements painted under the cultural veil continues to be the hot topic amongst beauty hunters.

From Vera Wang to Anna Sui, runway definitely becomes a more fun place when edgy fashion aspired by a soft cultural touch. As the New York-based designer Vivienne Tam put to describe her latest design, "this collection is a bridging of cultures between West and East." True, no one knows fashion better than Tam in the sense of what "when east meets west" encompasses - and certainly no one applies better cultural sensitivity than this Guangzhou-born, Hong Kong-bred girl who is greatly inspired from her extensive Asian experience and international adventure.

Well, while Sensu cannot experience this fashion feast of all senses, last week several of us culture enthusiasts were invited with great pleasure to the launch party of Tatsuaki Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. Enjoyed a phenomenal success in Japan, the Chinese Canadian designer Dan Liu is bringing his brand Tatsuaki to Toronto where it will be carried in Canada by the Hudson’s Bay Company in mid-March. Exposed to fashion during early years, Liu established his personal label Tatsuaki ('bright dragon' in English) in Japan where the embeddedness of simplicity and uniqueness receive great popularity.
Throughout the fashion show, we were completely taken by how subtle Japanese culture in showcased by the couture. From floral to geometric elements, from plain cutting to lace details, Liu injects the essence of poetic Asian delicacy into women's apparel and encourages females embrace their elegance and cuteness at the same time.

We are definitely looking forward to seeing this talent Asian designer's work entering our mainstream department store in March! Are you? :p

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Jason Wu creates a buzz for Target

There seems to be a trend going on of retailers collaborating with designers to create more affordable “designer” clothing, including the very popular “Versace for H&M”. Jason Wu and Target are another example of these up and coming fashion partnerships.

Now… what’s different about “Versace for H&M” and “Jason Wu for Target” is that Target isn’t even open in Canada yet! With the Canadian launch of Target in 2013, this Jason Wu pop-up shop is definitely adding to consumer’s anticipations of the store opening and business in general. From the Toronto Star article, it seems the event was expected to draw in many consumers and of course, be busy. It was only open for 6 hours and had customers lining up hours before the opening. Adding to the operating hour’s limitation, there was also a 3 item limit per purchase as well.

The pop-up shop seems like a smart move for Target I would say. As a consumer, I do prefer the idea of “limited qualities” of clothing because the fact that others don’t have it, make the clothes that much more special (note: I’m assuming there was little supply). With that said, if I followed Jason Wu's designs, I would definitely be at an event such as so. Besides the scarcity idea though, there were actually more “good things” about this pop-up shop. For one, Jason Wu was in attendance himself! Secondly…

"Target said they will donate an amount equal to 100 per cent of the sales of the Jason Wu for Target event to United Way Toronto" - The Star

Does it get any better than that?

I actually hope his line "Jason Wu for Target" goes well in Canada. I really do appreciate these designer collaborations because it gives consumers, who may not have been able to afford the items before, the chance to purchase them now. All in all, the pop-up shop event looks like a win-win-win situation. Win for consumers, win for Jason Wu, and… win for Target.

For more on the article and the collection:

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Lin's infamous 3 pointer over the Raptors

Linsanity continues! Toronto was able to witness Jeremy Lin’s talents on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre. He definitely attracted the Chinese community of Toronto, which made the ACC a full house that night.

I sat at home watching the game while a friend of mine was watching it live and texting me, “I’ve never seen so many Asian people at a Raptors game before!” Apparently there were more fans rooting for the Knicks (or Jeremy Lin should I say), rather than the Raptors (poor, poor Raptors). Personally, as a semi-Raptors fan and supporter of anything from Toronto, I was rooting for the Raptors… but then I was even more interested to watch because of the Jeremy Lin hype. I mean… what was he going to do now?

…Then there it was. Last quarter, 15 seconds left, tied game, and the ball is in Jeremy Lin’s hands. Literally at the edge of my seat, I witnessed him score a 3 pointer which just amazed me. I could only imagine how the Raptors felt after having a lead for almost the entire game. It was such a mix of emotions. On one hand, I was thinking, “Great, another lost” and on the other, I was just amazed at the risk that Jeremy Lin took. I mean, after that move there would be an even BIGGER craze in Toronto for him.

According to the Globe and Mail, news of his winning shot was featured on Toronto’s Ming Pao and Sing Tao websites. It was stated that the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletics Association sent 300 members to the game and as well, they were planning on buying tickets for the next game in Toronto. Interesting bit at the end of the article however…

This was too much for Tarek Fatah, the Pakistani-born Canadian activist who has written about multiculturalism. “What is it with Toronto’s Chinese community? They’re cheering the Knicks win against hometown Raptors ‘cos their star LIN is a Taiwanese?” Mr. Fatah said on Twitter. “I’m sorry, but when Canadians come waving Taiwan flags in Toronto, it pisses me off.”

As “Canadian” as one may be, I think that at the end of the day… if someone from the same culture as him/her does anything positive and/or impactful (such as so), he/she would feel a sense of pride. I really don’t think it should be a problem for others to be proud of where they came from.


Saturday, 11 February 2012

A rising star and inspiration: Jeremy Lin

If someone asked you to name a Chinese basketball player a few years back, you would have probably said Yao Ming. Fast forward a couple years and now you’ll be saying Jeremy Lin. Gaining attention all over; he has already been a trending topic of Twitter with fans using the hash-tag, “#Linsanity”.

Now who is Jeremy Lin you may ask? He’s an American-born, Harvard graduate, and most importantly… comes from a Chinese/Taiwanese background. If you’re wondering why I said “most importantly”, it’s because his Chinese descent is the “surprise” factor in this success story. Lin basically broke stereotypes just by doing what he loves. I hate to say it but many people stereotype Asians into the volleyball and badminton sports, but Lin is really proving something to the world. To me, he seems to be this shining underdog. With his 38 point winning game over the Lakers recently, he really is opening up eyes all around the world and becoming such an inspiration.

"The Asian American community in the United States possesses certain values which are: Religion, Education, and being a solid citizen, not only does Jeremy possess all of those but he appears to come from the "Asian Dream" — Harvard educated, a rare combination of brains and brawn. He's a wonderful role model for Asian Americans, especially among the young." - Vicki Wong, President & CEO of DAE Advertising

As much as Lin is this great success story, in reality we do live in a capitalistic world. With his talents, intelligence, and role model potential… he does seem to be a perfect candidate for endorsements though. For multicultural marketers of the Chinese community, he would really be the ideal “celebrity” influencer. What more could you ask for?

Lin is really building a sense of excitement and pride for the Chinese community, or even the Asian community as a whole. Its actually amazing how one person can have such a powerful impact on the world. Jeremy Lin is definitely the “next big thing”.

Read more about Jeremy Lin and his endorsement future here:

Saturday, 4 February 2012

How far can assumptions of ethnic markets take you?

After going through online articles, in search for something I could write about this week, I came across one in the Globe and Mail titled, “In de-coding class in China, cars are your best clue”.

The article states it all started on Weibo, China`s very popular version of Twitter let`s just say. On that social network was a discussion about the type of car a Canada ambassador owns versus the type of car that a Beijing vice-minister owns. From there, stemmed a list of cars which would define one`s social class in Beijing. Basically, the article talks about the type of car one has can determine the social class you are (assumed to be) in.

As I went through the list of cars and its perceived social class… it provoked some thoughts about the idea of “assuming” in marketing today.

Some businesses will refrain from investing into an authentic ethnic marketing company and simply just rely on their own “assumptions” about ethnic markets. Assumptions can only go so far though. For example (real life example!), a business would just throw an ad into the Sing Tao Chinese newspaper and that’s it, marketing to the Chinese community (check!). They just assumed that their target market will read the newspaper, see that article, and are now ready to go make a purchase. A few questions arise from this… is it even the right channel to use? Where is the strategy behind it?

Now is there any other approach to ethnic marketing besides the newspaper ad? No, and this is another problem. If businesses even make an attempt at ethnic marketing, there’s always a cap on it as if it’s not important, not a big deal. In other words, investment in ethnic marketing is very low; however, how can a business really benefit if they don’t put in the full efforts? How does their “knowledge” of the ethnic market compare with the knowledge of an ethnic marketing company? The least they can do is consult with an expert right? A cultural expert that is.

Check out the article here: