Last summer, soft drinks major PepsiCo teamed up with a number of young designers, including Percy Lau and Sankuanz for products like caps, skateboards, sunglasses and backpacks - the monikers of the younger generation.
But one product garnered more attention than others - a sneaker co-designed with Chinese shoemaker Warrior, a company that has been in existence for over 90 years.
It made one wonder as to why would Pepsi, which wanted to be seen as a youth icon, want to work with an old Chinese brand that nearly went bankrupt in 60 0? The fact is, guochao, or in Chinese domestic fashion, is elbowing its way back to the spotlight.
In 60 8, Hollywood star Orlando Bloom was spotted wearing Warrior shoes. After the photo of him went viral online, more stars began to ape the style, including the Chinese-Canadian actor Kris Wu and the actresses Yang Mi and Tang Yan.
"First of all, it's comfortable and cheap. Second, superstars wear it. Why shouldn't I?" said Dong Fang, a 26-year-old sales manager.
She bought white sneakers from Warrior and Renben, another Chinese shoemaker. The two pairs of shoes together cost her about 60 yuan ($15.8).
The simple classic design - white shoe body and a red hook-shaped logo - has won favor from youngsters, as it can be seen everywhere from universities to skating rinks. For many of them, Warrior represents an innocent and worry-free time that they want to recreate but can never come again.
"I think everyone born in the 1960 s and 1990s has had at least one pair of those simple and cheap rubber shoes," said Dong. "We used to wear them everywhere - to school, to the park or to the playground.
"I don't remember since when we got so obsessed with expensive foreign brands. It's great to see that the domestic brands from the past are finding their way back to market, and it is about what is behind the shoes - the memory and the style, rather than the price tag," Dong said.
To bring back Chinese fashion, Warrior has wasted no time in transferring itself into a modern brand by enhancing its design and going into e-commerce. Till date, it has over 2,700 stores in the country. On Singles Day in 2017, China's version of Black Friday launched by online retail giants, Warrior reported sales of 112 million yuan, breaking its own record.
"Two years ago, no one expected Warrior to report such a good performance," said Zhou Wei, executive director of Shanghai Warrior Shoes Co Ltd. "Now, a couple of our shoes are on the best seller list in Taobao."
He said in the first half of 2017, the company posted sales of 3.6 billion yuan, making Warrior the best seller among domestic brands.
Zhou said the company will target overseas markets including Europe and the United States in the second half of 2018 or 2019.
Late last year, the brand promoted its new design Warrior Ordinary Streetwear as its first attempt to target overseas markets. Priced at over 60 0 yuan, the newly designed shoes gave Warrior an image makeover as an affordable brand in the mid-price range.
But nostalgia alone is not enough to revive Chinese fashion. It needs new blood to make the past a trend of the present and the future. Yoho! Buy is one such e-commerce platform that is encouraging Chinese designers and local brands to steal the thunder from foreign brands. Last October, Yoho! Buy, an online platform selling fashionable clothes and accessories, launched its first store in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.
"Many foreign designer brands take inspiration from Chinese calligraphy and characters," said Niu Congxiao, vice-president of Yoho! Group. "I believe China will have a bigger impact on the fashion industry, and Chinese fashion will become popular, just like the New York style or Parisian style."
The platform is targeting customers aged between 16 and 35 who have their own taste for fashion. In the past three years, Yoho! Group has incubated more than 40 Chinese designer brands.
"Chinese fashion will become even more conspicuous and popular globally in 2018," said Jin Qu, assistant vice-president of the group.
"Those born in the 1990s and later have changed their old perception about Chinese brands. They now believe that incorporating Chinese elements into fashion is trendy and cool."