China’s street fashion whisperer Peter Zhong – WWD

SHANGHAI – In the past, streetwear fans in China relied on Yoho and Hypebeast to source everything in their subculture. Hypebeast, with a more international twist, can be trusted for the latest exclusives on global releases, especially Supreme news, while Yoho is the domestic king. Hot start is well received private equity and expanded its empire rapidly in just a few years, touching everything from magazines, offline stores and trade shows and business fairs to consumers Yohood.

But soon after the pandemic hit, Yoho ran into cash trouble. Forced to abandon many of its projects, the company had to support life for a while. Since then, Nowre, another platform focused on street culture and youth, has garnered influence and fans to the tune of three million followers and continues to grow.

Here, Nowre’s co-founder, Peter Zhong, chats with WWD about how the company got its start and how his team, which has expanded from editorial to a full-fledged digital agency, sees the future. hybrid of the streetwear movement in China.

WWD: What is Nowre?

Peter Zhong: It stands for the present “now” and the past “again”. We want to cover all the past and present of youth culture in China with a global perspective. In 2014, not much online media in mainland China focused on street or youth culture, compared to other markets like Taiwan or Japan, for example. We saw the opportunity to start this platform with my partner Chris Wang. I have a background in sports brands from Nike and Converse in retail and marketing. Chris’s background is advertising. He worked with Wieden + Kennedy and was one of Yoho’s earliest founding employees, while still having his own advertising agency, Horizon.

WWD: Who are your readers? What are some regional differences that you see across the country??

PZ: We get 50 percent of our readers from tier-one cities, but there’s been massive growth in readership in the western cities of Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi’an. Youth culture is increasingly strong in Western China. Developing economies and young people want to express themselves more.

Cantonese culture will always be the locomotive for youth culture because of the influence of Hong Kong from the early days. Any street culture or youth media in China, readers from Guangdong should contribute as the top province because unlike other provinces, they have two members. The first tier cities are Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

In terms of gender, 60% were male and 40% female when we started NowHer two years ago.

Peter Zhong, co-founder of Nowre.

Peter Zhong, co-founder of Nowre.

Nowre is a content creator and a media platform.

Nowre is a content creator and a media platform.

WWD: How big is the company now, and how have you expanded from the media base to other business areas?

PZ: We have 60 full-time employees, we are completely independent. We create content and a communication platform. Then, due to how many times we talked to different brands, they contacted us for consumer insights or industry reports, and we gradually developed that into a success. the production. So it is similar to Hypebeast and Hypemaker business model.

We started helping with strategy, then gradually we added digital agency work, and as brands were ready to go to market, we developed PR services, did some activities of seeding and buying multimedia in the field of streetwear. Last but not least, we help brands organize events. As brands firmly believe that consumer insights are key to their strategy, we’ve gradually become a full-service agency. But we understand that we can only build digital brands to a certain extent, where it takes a lot of experience to do it offline. As a result, we’ve developed a number of offline shows like Nowre marketplace and pop-up spaces to take part in key offline cultural moments.

WWD: What is the competitive landscape of streetwear vehicles like?

PZ: We see a lot of bloggers and influencers doing their own thing. But for Nowre, we’ve always known what we wanted to do from Day One. We want to be the local media platform for culture. That is the main difference between us and media like Hypebeast. They are based in Hong Kong, but people don’t realize they are from Hong Kong. I didn’t see much Hong Kong influence on Hypebeast or China influence on Hypebeast, until they launched their China site. For Nowre, we focus on local content contributing at least 60 and 40% international content.

WWD: It’s been almost a year since the Xinjiang Better Cotton Initiative controversy. What long-term impact do you think it has on Nike and Adidas? What advice do you have for brands concerned about getting into political skirmishes?

PZ: The challenges for international brands are many but political events are short-lived. Ultimately it’s about serving the consumer, I think that’s the key.

Nike and Adidas have certainly seen a drop in sales, but there’s a long way to go. Chinese brands like Li Ning and Anta have been investing for many years. The incident disrupted the market so competitors, Chinese brands and consumer mindsets may change but domestic brands are still going strong.

There are many, many factors. I don’t think BCI is the main reason for local brands to catch up. In certain categories, they have a more advanced supply chain than international brands. You can cycle a product quickly, which gives you a huge advantage, you can have more drops. You can innovate a lot faster and they are not afraid to take risks. In terms of size, they are still smaller than international brands, but [there are so many] decisions that multinational companies have to make across the globe. They are reacting to Chinese brands, rather than leading in terms of how they want to fight the war, and that gives Chinese brands a lot of advantages. As for the Chinese brands, they are on the ground, they have the supply chain here. They have marketing team here and speak the same language. Brands here grow a lot faster. To name a few: Random Events, Rolling Wild or Bosie.

The main logic in our parents’ generation was that everything was better abroad. we [as Millennials] There is still this mentality that abroad is better. But kids born after the 2000s, Gen Z, when they were born, China was in a better place. Their mentality and mindset is that China is as good as anywhere else, nationalism is really building. When they are in their twenties, they are ready to support local Chinese brands.

Peter Zhong said Nowre stands for

Peter Zhong said Nowre stands for “now” of the present and “reimagining” the past, with the goal of covering all the past and present of youth culture in China with a global perspective.

WWD: So what can international brands bring?

PZ: Their advantage is still very clear that China does not have these subcultures to begin with. Everything comes from abroad. I think the successful streetwear brands in China started early and they own certain communities. Because they’ve invested in this community, that’s authenticity. Vans or Nike, they have enough resources to be the main sponsor of every major event in their categories or mainstays.

WWD: How worried should brands be about recent scrutiny of celebrities and “idol worship”?

PZ: I think brands are starting to realize that there are risks to relying too much on celebrities. It’s a double-edged sword. But I don’t think it reflects street culture. We cannot be skeptical and apply all Western values ​​to the Chinese government, given the fact that most Western-formatted products have prospered and are growing, rather than being targeted in China. this.

WWD: Have you observed some interesting insights into how Chinese men spend that brands should know?

PZ: The males in China consume to express their identity. Sometimes it’s a flexibility or about making a statement. Chinese men are also very generous with their girlfriends or other half.

Then, high-end performance equipment with less obvious branding is also very popular among high-income men, for example outdoor camping equipment and golf equipment.

WWD: What is the common confusion of international brands looking to expand in China?

PZ: The number of social media platforms here is very fragmented compared to the West. For Western brands coming here can be very difficult. Social media is the backbone of branding in China. Besides Weibo, WeChat has apps like China’s Little Red Book, Douyin or TikTok, and e-commerce platforms that have a social element to them like Poison, the equivalent of StockX or Goat here and it. has the number one position in the sports shoe resale market. It is important to have a foundation strategy for each type.

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