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‘Knot’ your typical athlete: Tiffany & Co X Eileen Gu

On March 12th, 2022, the latest part of Tiffany and Co’s Not Your Typical City campaign was released on Xiaohongshu(小红书, Chinese equivalent of Instagram) – a selection of reels (short, entertaining videos) where global ambassadors individually share their opinions on New York City, dressed head to toe in the new Tiffany Knot Collection. 

The under-30-second reel shows the Olympic fashion icon Eileen Gu lounging on a leather chair, declaring “New York is not overrated” and that the city fully lives up to the hype surrounding it, supporting the campaign’s Not Your Typical City tagline. 

Gu’s video has over four times the number of views as the video featuring fellow ambassador and actress Anya Taylor-Joy, and significantly more engagement in the comment sections overall. Netizens move in to praise the young athlete’s classiness and suitability for Tiffany, claiming that “Eileen is the key to a high volume of views” and that “this is the first time I feel that a brand ambassador is quite good.” 

Source: Tiffany & Co’s official Xiaohongshu account. netizens’ positive comments on Eileen Gu as Tiffany & Co’s brand ambassador

A quick scroll through Tiffany’s Xiaohongshu page will show that any content with Eileen gains more attention than with other Western stars, the February Tiffany Knot campaign video racking up over 30 thousand views in comparison to the usual couple hundred. Her engagement is also significantly higher, in contrast to Tiffany’s posts with other Chinese ambassadors on Xiaohongshu, such as C-drama actor Gao Hanyu (高瀚宇).

In this case, Eileen Gu’s dual identity as a Chinese American comes in handy, allowing her to be the perfect representative of Tiffany’s American classiness while also catering to Chinese sensibilities. But amidst supportive fans are also critics of Eileen’s Western side, pointing out that she’s exposing too much skin in her campaign outfit or that she’s giving off too much of a “Western vibe.”

Source: Tiffany & Co’s official Xiaohongshu account. netizens’ critique on Eileen Gu

Besides the few critics in comparison to the overwhelming admiration of Eileen Gu, it does show how luxury brands like Tiffany must deal with a fine cultural line in order to succeed in the Chinese market. One netizen who expressed disappointment at Gu’s “revealing” black dress in the campaign, also acknowledged the different aesthetic criteria between China and the West.

Perhaps some netizens are disappointed that Gu has not been able to convey her Chinese identity in this campaign, although she has explained her love for New York’s diversity in the latest video and the fact that the city has the highest ethnic Chinese concentration outside of Asia. 

However, Tiffany and Co have shown how in touch they are with Chinese media through this campaign, by dubbing Eileen as the “Frog Princess” with two emojis in the caption – a nickname she earned in 2018 after wearing a green helmet at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. One netizen was quite surprised that even Tiffany was utilizing this nickname as it has not been widely used in the West. 

Source: Tiffany & Co’s official Xiaohongshu account.

Part of Tiffany’s Move to Modernity

Tiffany has gone through drastic rebranding the last few years in an attempt to catch up with the younger market, by moving away from its old-timey reputation towards something more modern and hip, while still staying true to its New York City roots. The Tiffany Knot collection is a representative of this change, as it is clearly different from its more classic styles like Elsa Peretti or the Paloma collection in that it is edgier and bolder; the design itself a juxtaposition of smooth lines and sudden jagged angles, a clever ode to the individuality yet unity of New Yorkers. 

Source: Tiffany and Co Instagram. The Knot Collection

Eileen Gu serves as the perfect multicultural Gen-Z ambassador, young and chic enough to represent Tiffany’s new identity, but still with the class and elegance expected of the old jewelry house from both the American and Chinese market. 

Author: Gloria Tsang

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