Unconventional luxury brand collaborations: a new form of luxury consumption among young adults in China

Carlos Diaz Ruiz, Angela Gracia B. Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study conceptualizes a form of luxury consumption in which luxury brands collaborate with unconventional non-luxury partners. These unconventional luxury brand collaborations are growing in popularity among Chinese luxury consumers of the post-1990s generation. Luxury brands are exploring new branding strategies due to the growing commercial importance of Chinese luxury consumers. Design/methodology/approach: An in-depth qualitative study informs this paper. Interviews with young adult luxury consumers self-identifying as Chinese reveal a growing interest for luxury brands that collaborate with odd partners in social media and online culture. Findings: Unconventional collaborations between luxury brands and non-luxury partners catalyze shifting meanings of luxury through the following juxtapositions: ephemeral instead of timeless, trendy rather than inaccessible, and playful in contrast with traditional. First, young Chinese consumers construct luxury meanings through ephemerality, like digital possessions, social media fame and fleeting experiences. Second, luxury meanings emerge in trendiness among social media influencers and online culture rather than in the seemingly inaccessible taste regimes of the upper class. Third, younger consumers appreciate fun, rebellious and over-the-top aesthetics in luxury brands. Originality/value: The study contributes to the nascent field of unconventional luxury by conceptualizing how unusual, odd and unexpected collaborations constitute new forms of luxury consumption. The shifting meanings of luxury consumption that this study conceptualizes raise new opportunities and challenges for luxury brands. One of such is the release of limited collections with non-luxury partners seemingly at the opposite spectrum of design, image and values. Moreover, the study adds nuance to the understanding of luxury consumption among young Chinese consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Brand collaborations
  • Branding
  • China
  • Luxury
  • Unconventional luxury

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