Alibaba Group said Friday its fourth Taobao Maker Festival, the annual celebration of China’s young creatives, will be the largest, longest and most-diverse edition yet.
“Taobao Maker Festival brings together the unlimited creativity of young people on Taobao in one place,” Taobao and Tmall President Jiang Fan said. “Taobao has become a hotbed for creative ideas, helping these unique merchants thrive and succeed.”
WATCH: Highlights from Taobao Maker Festival 2018
During a press launch at Alibaba headquarters, Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba Group, said the Taobao Maker Festival provides consumers with a platform for discovery, where they can explore and experience new things.
“There’s nothing quite like it in the world,” said Chris Tung. “Three years ago, [we] found that many young people were creating things and products to express their passion and hobbies. They weren’t opening online stores to make money, but to show the world their creativity, their dreams.”
“We decided to try something brand new,” Tung said. “We wanted to tell the stories of these young merchants by curating a large-scale, offline event that would allow people to personally experience, see, touch, smell and taste [their creative work].”
More than 1,000 products will be showcased at the event, spread across sections that are dedicated to street fashion, cultural heritage, technology, food and novel designs and curiosities.
Organizers pointed to “future experiences” as a key highlight of the festival this year, ranging from artificial meat cuisine and rapid-fire 3D printing technology to wearable technology that helps workers lift heavy loads. Visitors will be able to dine inside a rocket at the “Rocket Restaurant,” operated by Alibaba’s on-demand delivery service, Ele.me.
While this “Future City” section gives consumers a taste of what’s to come, the space dedicated to crossovers and new takes on cultural heritage takes them back to the past. This section will mirror the Tang dynasty setting seen in Youku’s popular period series, “The Longest Day in Chang’an,” featuring everything from “haute couture hanfu (traditional Han-style clothing)” valued at RMB 60,000 (US$ 8,521) per piece to robotic shadow puppet performances and Lego-like building blocks that recreate traditional Chinese architecture.
Broken Bridge Fashion Show Goes Global
For the first time, some of the world’s top luxury and designer brands will take also part in the fashion show on the opening day of the festival, alongside China’s emerging fashion talent and streetwear brands, said Tung. He said they will reveal the official line-up in the coming weeks.
The company also invited celebrities at home and abroad to join in a segment featuring crossover fashion designs, made in collaboration with some of China’s most iconic museums and heritage sites, such as the Great Wall, Tung added.
Last year, Alibaba transformed West Lake’s picturesque “Broken Bridge” into a high-fashion runway, showcasing some of China’s leading fashion innovators, such as Wan Yifang. The bridge is best known for its role in Madame White Snake, a classic Chinese tale about two star-crossed lovers.
Alibaba also will work with participating merchants to redesign the buses in Hangzhou, as well as partner with local art school students to give garbage bins across the city makeovers, expanding the coverage of the playful trash bins that the event introduced at the West Lake last year.
“We want to transform Hangzhou into a young, energetic makers’ city,” said Tung. “You will be able to see the creativity of young people from even the little things.”