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Common Rare- Shanghai’s Hippest Creative Market

Playtime brings you a series of articles focusing on artistic and creative markets around the world!
Our next stop is Common Rare, an art and crafts fair based in Shanghai.
Common Rare was co-founded by Tiffany Wong & Vivian Sze (classmates since middle school who later studied abroad in the United States) to bring the experience of artisanal fairs to China. What started as a small concept between two friends soon blossomed into a popular event to showcase creative works with a festive collection of art and entertainment.

Join us as we learn more about Common Rare with Vivian Sze.

1. How did you start Common Rare?

When we studied in the United States, Southern California was a popular destination for cultural and creative markets at the time, offering different leisure and consumption options for people. So, we decided to bring this concept and establish a creative centre in Shanghai.

2. How many booths did you have at your first creative market? And what is the size of the market now?

The first creative market was launched in 2016 with 55 brands. As of the October 2020 market event, the number of participating brands has increased to 130. The number of visitors over the two days went up to 6,000. We were only affected by the pandemic at the beginning of 2020, and we held an online market on WeChat. By November, Common Rare had already organized six creative markets in Shanghai with different themes and styles and one flash sale.

Tiffany Wong & Vivian Sze

3. Can you share with us how you curate and invite brands to the creative market?

Regarding the curation of the market, we hope to have a rich mix of content, category, and art. The brands we invite to participate in the markets range from apparel and accessories to pet-related objects and illustrations. In the past, we have invited many foreign illustrators to participate. This year, due to the pandemic, we collaborated with local ones. We look forward to collaborating with more international illustrators in the future.

It's worth mentioning that Common Rare has successfully established its appeal and brand image. Brands such as Nike and Discovery have even started sponsoring our events.

4. Who is your target audience? What are their characteristics?

Our target audience consists of young people in Shanghai, aged 20-35, who are art enthusiasts with a belief in 'ordinary and reliable happiness.' Many of the brands exhibiting at the market were represented by their founders, allowing visitors to meet them in person. This, in turn, led to many crossover collaborations between different brands. We found that the 'community' and 'culture' of Common Rare is gradually taking shape.

5. What was the most memorable experience of organizing the creative market?

The concept of organizing a creative market in China and charging an entrance fee is very new. In the beginning, consumers did not understand what they were paying for. We had to build a good reputation with careful selection and curation.

Secondly, holding a creative market in China requires applying and coordinating with a lot of official agencies. In the early days of our business, we were unfamiliar with these regulations, so we were under tremendous pressure before each event. And during the course of the event, all sorts of emergencies require a quick and agile on-the-spot reaction to make the event run smoothly and successfully.

6. A word on the future of Common Rare?

Common Rare has accumulated many followers in the past and is currently planning an online store. This fills up gaps in the absence of a physical event and also allows us to convert the community and followers that Common Rare has built up over the past few years.

In addition, Common Rare has also included lifestyle-focused trade show programs in its future blueprints.

We look forward to seeing more interesting and unique projects created by Common Rare in the future!

Explore the creative world of Common Rare at
Instagram: @common.rare