“Design in China” e35 – DOE – The Maestro of Streetwear Collabs from Shanghai

Collaborations in retail have long been a viable tactic to boost brand recognition. One product or service targeting two or more brand’s audience creates buzz and excitement, not to mention revenue. No fashion segment has leveraged the power of collaborations (or collabs as they are colloquially called) like streetwear.

While it largely became popular with American retailers and designers collaborating with stalwarts like Nike and Adidas, the strategy has crossed borders. In China, one brand doing it right with collaborations is DOE. It’s a Shanghai-based streetwear brand that describes itself as “a lifestyle ethos inspired through the convergence of culture.” 

Founded in 2014, the brand’s name is inspired by friends and acquaintances, and the logo features a simple square, which represents the concept of suprematism (the Russian art movement conveying ideas of spirituality through geometric shapes). The idea is that DOE is formless, not just one thing. In that sense, it’s the John Doe of streetwear, except it’s come to be known very well through its collaborations.

The brand’s collaborations are on point with its concept, as these design partnerships have allowed it to evolve its identity. While the brand produces independent collections of apparel, it has collaborated with dozens of brands, many of them international. The list includes Adidas, Converse, Nike, Jordan Brand, Mizuno, Off-White, the North Face, Patta, Gramicci, Disney, and many more. It wouldn’t be wrong to call DOE the Supreme of China. Collab products are often instantly sold out. For sneakerheads, the collab sneakers serve as a collectible or an opportunity to profit on the resale market. Either way, collab sneakers and even apparel from DOE have made it a recognizable name in China’s Hypebeast culture.

The brand calls Shanghai home, where it has two boutiques. Outside of Shanghai, it has opened a boutique in Shenzen. While the stores are a strong sales channel, it reaches its now global audience through its website and partner channels (whoever the brand collaborates with). Moreover, it hosts events for brand collaborations at its store and other venues. New collections and product launches are often accompanied by special events. The streetwear brand has also done popups, including one in Paris and Tokyo.

The Heatwave block party hosted by DOE has become a conference of talent and community. Whether through collaborations or the events that support them, the creative team behind DOE knows its way around creating buzz without being pretentious. The brand is among many names from within China that are bringing the country forward in the streetwear scene, arguably the most explosive fashion segment. Its competitors locally include Randomevent, Sankuanz, FMACM, and Avenue & Son. These other brands have also collaborated with international retailers but not at the level or frequency of DOE. Brands like Supreme and DOE are good examples if emerging brand wants to utilize collaboration. But collaborations alone may not cut it for every brand, so there has to be a unique voice.

Luckily for DOE, their unique voice has become the very collaborations they do.

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