Like other big brands, US pop star Taylor Swift is attempting to tackle counterfeits being sold in China, and products being made with her likeness without her permission.
So now she's partnering with e-commerce platforms JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall to sell officially branded merchandise. The stores will launch on Aug 8, according to the Wall Street Journal, and Swift is working with Heritage66Company, a Tennessee-based branding company that works with American corporations and celebrities to extend their brands into the Chinese market.
On Heritage66Company's official JD.com webpage, there is a clock counting down to the Aug 8 launch, promising "authentic merchandise." On the company's official Weibo account, it posted a video of Swift greeting her fans in Chinese and announcing the store opening.
Swift's official marketplaces will offer goods like $60 designer T-shirts and other clothing that costs $100 to $120, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Kate Liegey, chief operating officer of Heritage66Company, told the newspaper that the products will have anti-piracy tags that buyers can use to verify authenticity.
"JD.com is simply the one and only e-commerce site where shoppers in China can be assured they will get only authentic Taylor Swift products that meet the high quality standards her fans deserve," said Mark McDonald, chairman of Heritage66 Company, said in a statement released on Monday on JD.com's website. "We are excited to unveil a Taylor Swift Fashion line exclusively on JD.com later this summer."
Richard Liu, CEO of JD.com, said in the statement that its e-commerce platform is the sole online source for Swift's merchandise.
"She is an enormously popular artist and true global cultural icon who is winning over thousands of new fans in China each day. It is gratifying to be recognized as China's online shopping platform of choice for those who value authenticity and quality," he said.
Alibaba said in a statement to China Daily that Tmall has been working closely with Swift's team to get her flagship store running.
"We are confident that Taylor Swift's Tmall store and her brand will be a hit in China, and we look forward to offering her unique, premium apparel designs to our 350 million annual active buyers," the company said.
Swift, who has November tours scheduled for Shanghai, has seen her popularity in China grow. According to Xiami, Alibaba's music-streaming service, her songs had been streamed more than 43 million times before they were pulled from the service, and the pop icon has 3 million followers on Weibo, more than other Western artists. Tickets to her Shanghai shows - totaling about 18,000 - sold out in less than 60 seconds, a new record in China, according to music website NME.
Along with her popularity, demand for Swift-branded goods also increased, and more counterfeit goods cropped up, such as clothing and autographed merchandise.
Peter Yu, professor of law and co-director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University School of Law, said that the partnerships would provide means of authentication. Fans buy fake goods now because they don't know where to get real goods, and the stores' debut will provide them with a legitimate place to purchase Swift's merchandise, Yu told China Daily on Wednesday.
But for those who don't want to pay full price for legitimate goods - or those who simply cannot afford it and don't mind getting a lower-quality good - the stores won't matter much, he said.
"If they don't mind having a product of lower quality at a much lower price, they are very likely to continue buying counterfeits, because they are not valuing both the authenticity or the higher quality. I think it will be advantageous for her in a sense that those who are willing to pay the full price to get the real product will now actually know where to shop. But there are also others who are not willing to pay the full price or who actually don't care about the quality of the product. I don't think she's going to get that group of customers," he said.