Pharrell Williams


Alibaba is getting some star power from Pharrell Williams to create even more fervor around Singles’ Day.

The performer, designer, Chanel collaborator and campaign face is set to perform at Alibaba’s upcoming 11.11 Countdown Gala, a variety show that will take place during the hours before the massive Alibaba shopping event that is Singles’ Day, also known as 11.11, or Double 11.

“Our pre-sale gala has become immensely influential in China, with cutting-edge interactive technology at the heart at the heart of the event,” said Hong Ying, the general manager of the entertainment division of Alibaba.

The performance marks one of Williams’ first links with the powerful Chinese online marketplace, and he will also be launching on Tuesday a pair of custom-designed patchwork G-Star jeans exclusively with Alibaba.

Ying said the goal of the 11.11 event is to “seamlessly connect shopping with entertainment.”

An Alibaba poster for the 11.11 gala featuring Pharrell Williams

Williams will be performing alongside several “surprise guests,” according to Alibaba, but other confirmed appearances include actor and pop star Karen Mok, actor and model Zhang Ziyi and pianist Lang Lang.

Singles’ Day is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and this year, Alibaba aimed to spread out the event over more days that the traditional 24-hour window, in part because more than 500 million people are expected to be shopping the site’s deals.

More than 140,000 brands, 60,000 of them international ones, are participating in this year’s Singles’ Day festival, with more than 15 million products part of the associated promotions. A lot of these promotions aren’t just about discounts and about 1,000 brands across various categories will be converting over 100,000 physical locations into “smart stores” featuring shopping tours, virtual fitting rooms, virtual payments, deliveries and more.  

Last year, Alibaba sold nearly $18 billion worth of products and services during Singles’ Day, a 32 percent increase on 2015. Just two hours into last year’s event, Alibaba tallied sales of $7 billion.

The de facto Chinese holiday, akin to Amazon’s popular Prime Day shopping event, started out in the Nineties as a day for single people to celebrate their singledom on a date made up of only the number one.

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