Idols: Pop Culture Icons as Brand Ambassadors for Fashion and Cosmetics in China

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Amanda Sikarskie
contact email: 

Call for Papers for a proposed edited collection tentatively titled “Idols: Pop Culture Icons as Brand Ambassadors for Fashion and Cosmetics in China” to be edited by Amanda Sikarskie, Ph.D., University of Michigan.

In China, popular culture idols are vital to the luxury fashion and cosmetics industry as brand ambassadors. This volume hopes to fill a critical gap in the English-language literature on this subject, bringing together authors from China, the United States, and around the world.

Essays for this volume can focus on any pop idols in China that serve as brand ambassadors in fashion, jewelry, or cosmetics. A few questions that the essays might pose include: Why are idols so important as brand ambassadors in China? What is the role of male idols in marketing cosmetics and skincare? What is the relationship of Chinese idols to fans and consumers in other Asian countries? What is the future for virtual reality idols as brand ambassadors, especially in the era of COVID-19?

The role of idols in the business of fashion received global media attention in March 2020 owing to the controversy of Xiao Zhan fans successfully petitioning the Chinese government to block the popular social fanfiction platform Archive of Our Own (AO3), and the subsequent movement by AO3 users and anti-fans to boycott the brands that he represents, notably Estée Lauder and Piaget.1 Anxiety-producing—and probably heartbreaking—for Xiao, from an academic perspective the incident continues to make for a very intriguing case study, testing the solidity of the brand – idol connection. Essays for this collection specifically focusing on the case of Xiao Zhan might ask: How can brands continue to work with idols while protecting their brand image from inappropriate reactions by fans online? What positives still exist for brand – idol collaborations in an era of toxic fan culture and anti-fans?

The editor will be writing the essay on Wang Yibo (including his work with Chanel, Shu Uemura, Origins, and other brands).

The editor is working with Acquisitions Editor Frances Arnold at Bloomsbury.


250 word abstracts are due to Amanda Sikarskie by August 15, 2020, with 7,500 word draft essays for selected authors due by May 15, 2021. To submit an abstract, or if you have any questions about the project, please contact Amanda Sikarskie at


Regarding illustrations: Please note that authors will be able to use up to three black & white images in their essay, and are responsible for securing permission for the image(s) as well as paying any applicable fees.

1 Casey Hall, “Toxic Fan Culture Puts Brands at Risk in China, Business of Fashion, March 12, 2020,