7 years ago, 2 sisters, designer background, with paltry amount of money RMB 1000 (USD163), started a humble apparel e-store on Taobao C2C; now they have turned it into an annual sale of RMB500 million online kingdom; even attracting venture capital investment from Matrix Partners and Sequoia. While many other vertical e-stores have suffered huge losses in China, the 2 sisters calmly sip the merriment from their robust turnover. Behind its magical success, what I truly see is old wisdom still applies to digital business, that is style and branding retain to be the devine soul and the core.

Lately I have been looking at some best online practices for apparel brands. Then I discovered this local brand called “Liebo” founded by two sisters on Taobao C2C 7 years ago.

To me, apparel e-commerce can be dissected into two parts, body and soul. Body often means the structure, interface design, functionality, features, customer services of your online store; your pricing strategy and market niche; the pervasiveness of your online distributional channels, i.e. your independent online store in conjunction with your presence on leading e-retailer platforms; how many social media accounts you have opened and maintained etc.

Thus for someone who would like to emulate the best body shape of apparel e-commerce, Liebo is the one you should take a look, including price range often below RMB1000, its independent e-store, platform stores on Taobao, Tmall, Jingdong, Vancl, Dangdang, social media presence of course.

It is often far too easy to copy the body. But what about the soul? Soul refers to your apparel design and branding. Hence now allow me to elaborate some details on Liebo’s soul.

1)       Apparel Design

Though personally I probably will not buy Liebo’s product, not my taste, it does have very distinguished theme running through, bright, colorful, folksy, exotic yet saturated with traditional and original Chinese culture elements (Its facbook account here might be helpful to have an overview)

The founders have designer background and always love such style, and later on they hired more designers to bring fresh inspiration and ideas into their product lines.  

2)       Branding

Liebo’s apparel portrays and presents a woman who can be versatile, wild, independent, sentimental, and ultimately a playful aristocracy, which I believe few local apparel brands are able to deliver in China right now.

We know branding is not just about products, but more about story telling your unique identity. Apparel is always something special for women. What you wear represents who you are. Liebo often utilizes a poetic message along with its product line, like this example below:     

Pheromone of Time

After our journey, just realized

The past is just a cup of tea

My heart, after all the hustle and bustle

Still dewy

So any conclusion here?

Men might frown at me and say “You women are so emotional! We already knew these old branding rules, but much easier to say, a lot harder to do!” Yes, that is why most business failed while some succeeded like Liebo. If you manage to echo women’s romanticism and touch their emotional button, then women would in return click your button of shopping cart.  


By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager