Gu Liang, founder of niche designer bag brand Guliang Jiji, thinks brand and attendees both bring meaning to the exhibition. The brand recently held an exhibition presenting their bags in a Cantonese teahouse setting, encouraging attendees to search for hidden bags and other brand-related treasures throughout the exhibition.
I.jiji, a subsidiary of Guliang Culture, held a concept exhibition in Chengdu, allowing guests to use soft clay to design their own bags out of pottery.
“Bags represent consumers’ lifestyle choices. Consumer participation shapes a part of our brand,” say Gu Liang.
Art exhibitions have also become a way for brands to track consumers who are highly engaged on social media, to effectively find “seed users” who are compatible with the brand and making high-quality content, as well as track the online popularity of offline art exhibitions. In the past, curating an exhibition in an art gallery or cultural centre to draw on the venue’s atmosphere and attract its regulars, brands may have conveyed a sense of highbrow detachment. Today it’s about reaching the masses.
Jiang Lanyi, founder of the podcast Art Talk, says when brands select a site, they could consider finding somewhere more neutral than an art gallery, which might appear out-of-touch. She suggests bookstores, theatres and even markets, restaurants and residential areas to reach those who might not otherwise think it’s for them.
Wang Fan, senior executive event consultant of Shanghai’s Wispark Group, believes that such exhibitions should not just be steeped in the brand’s heritage, but also embody their contemporary spirit. “Last year, Cartier’s exhibition invited several young artists to collaborate, including cellists, electronic music producers, photographers, paper artists, animators, graffiti artists and so on. A lot of these are very Gen Z, and that obviously attracts the participation of young people to a great extent.” Amid the fast pace of urban life, fashion brands’ art exhibitions may also help to guide young people to pay attention to society, as well as to arts and humanities.
Valentino’s “Re-Signify” exhibition recently landed in Beijing; under the theme of “City”, the exhibition hall displays a connectivity between Valentino fashion and art works by Gioele Amaro, Xu Zhen, Wu Rui, Alessandro Teoldi, Sookyung Yee and other famous artists. It serves to build up the brand’s contemporary aesthetics and show a sense of inclusivity and broad interpretation.