What happened: In early November, Taiwanese Gen Z actor Ouyang Nana released her lifestyle brand Nabi. With the slogan “embrace your comfort”, Nabi seeks to make consumers’ lives more peaceful and relaxing. His first collection, the “cloud capsule”, consists of eight pure white items, including bathrobes, socks, pajamas and a toy bunny. However, the release was met with strong skepticism.
At the end of November, the Chinese media The Time Weekly interviewed a manager of a textile factory in China. He suggested that since Nabi’s bathrobes were made of polyester fiber, they should only cost about $9 (RMB 65) each. Netizens began to wonder why each bathrobe cost $142 (RMB 988) in Nabi’s WeChat mini-app. Also netizens Highlighted that the star tag would only cover the shipping fee if the order reaches USD 143 (RMB 999). This means that consumers who purchase the bathrobe, the most expensive item in the collection, will have to purchase at least one other item. — the cheapest of which is a $21 (RMB 148) sleep mask. — to ensure free shipping.
On Weibo, hashtag “Ouyang Nana’s RMB 988 bathroom vanity costs less than RMB 100 to produce” has approximately 520 million views, claiming the 10th spot on the trending topic list at one point on November 30. On Xiaohongshu, many users poked fun at the company by posting photos of ordinary white items such as napkins and bowls with the letters “Nabi” on them.
The Jing Take: Complaints about overcharging by fashion brands are not new in China. However, what is particularly damaging to Nabi is the design, or lack thereof, of its “capsule in the cloud” collection. Since all the products are pure white and the “Nabi” logo is not easily discernible, they are very similar to the standard items issued in hotels, but cost much more. In other words, there is no artistic value to justify the high prices of Nabi’s products.
Nabi’s brand message is also out of place. As before noticed of Jing DailyOuyang Nana is known as a relatable idol associated with “chillax” tendency. However, the prices of Nabi products are beyond the acceptable limits of the average consumer, and the substandard materials of the products only make this worse.
So far, Ouyang Nana’s foray into brand ownership suggests that a celebrity’s large fan base does not automatically guarantee success in their personal endeavors. She is well known in mainland China; her Weibo account has over 20 million followers. However, top comments on her Weibo post featuring Nabi accuse her of not being honest in creating the brand and prioritizing money over rewarding her fans.
Ouyang Nana is not the first Chinese celebrity to launch a personal line, and the results can vary widely. Chinese idol Justin Huang’s streetwear label TWOEX2, which debuted in 2020, was also met with skepticism. This one closed its Taobao and Douyin stores in January amid questions about its expensive prices. But local idol Bai Jingting found success in 2021 with the launch of her lifestyle outfit Good Bai; thanks to its great design, collaborations with notable brands like Crocs, and affordable prices, it was welcomed.
This shows that fans can increasingly distinguish celebrity businesses that have high intrinsic value from those that simply want to cash in on the popularity of their owners. Hardcore fans can boost sales in the short term, but the ability to attract consumers on merit is the key to a famous brand’s success in China in the long term.
The Jing Take reports some of the top news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In this recurring column, we look at everything from product drops and mergers to heated debates on Chinese social media.