China’s design toy craze: how long will it last?

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Bearbrick has become more accessible. In the past, limited editions and special models were only available to a few, not least because of their high prices, which are typically over $ 1,000. Now the Bearbrick range has shifted to focus on products at more affordable prices, with some around a hundred dollars or less. Meanwhile, Pop Mart has built on its blind boxing success to become the leading domestic player in China’s designer toy phenomenon.

In cooperation with visual artists, cultural institutions and fashion brands such as Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Ivana Helsinki, Nike, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Maison Margiela and Bape, there were numerous limited bearbricks. Bearbricks also appear on special editions. The Japanese artist Haroshi (who designed a bearbrick) teamed up with the sustainable lifestyle brand Pangaia on a bearbrick capsule collection earlier this year.

Secondary market concerns

Designer toys are facing challenges similar to those of luxury fashion brands, which are gaining popularity in China – and a secondary market quickly emerged.

In September, Chinese Customs in Jiangmen confiscated a batch of Bearbrick products believed to be illegally imported. Manipulation of secondary market prices has also been suspected, with the price of Bearbrick toys experiencing sharp ups and downs on trading platforms such as Xianyu and Dewu. Within a single week, the average transaction price rose by around 40 percent and then fell back just as quickly. Counterfeit products are also widely spread in China.

Experts question the longevity of the Chinese designer toy market.

Dior

The fundamental question is how long the designer toy market will remain buoyant. Analysts and investors have expressed concern about the risks associated with the designer toy market, believing that the interests of younger Chinese customers are changing rapidly.

In an interview with Chinese media company Huxiu, 52Toys founder Chen Wei expressed concern about the short attention span of the younger generation when it comes to trends and fads. “The post-1980s generation will give a minute to a new art toy, but the post-2000s generation will only give it 30 seconds, and the post-2010s generation may only look at it for a second,” he said. “This reality is forcing art toy companies to focus on products and innovation again.”

As in the broader fashion market in China, relentless novelty is the top priority when it comes to designer toys – and a hit is not guaranteed to last long.

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