VF Corp. has entered into a partnership with Tmall, the Chinese B2C e-commerce platform and marketplace owned by Alibaba Group. VF is hoping to glean insights into the Chinese market in terms of buyers, growth opportunities, product design and assortment. This is not the American company's first collaboration with the platform. In 2017, VF became the first apparel company to work with the Tmall Innovation Center (TMIC), which specializes in product development and has been aiding VF in trend discovery, consumer research, pre-launch testing and post-launch tracking. In February, TMIC helped Kipling, VF's Belgian brand of accessories, with a new backpack that became the brand's bestselling new product for the year. Vans, VF's skate-shoe company, has used TMIC testing and surveys to select designs and streamline its product range and inventory for Alibaba's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the annual sale on Nov. 11. Meanwhile, Dickies, VF's brand of workwear, has used TMIC to develop chatrooms within the Tmall app for focus groups, polls, photo sharing and the organization of offline consumer workshops. The resulting product line takes inspiration from Chinese street culture and should be launched next year. TMIC was inaugurated in 2017 and has since established about 100 partnerships covering some 800 brands. Its partners include P&G, Unilever, L'Oréal, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Mars and Samsung.