The Oh Collective

These Female Sex Toy Makers Want to Empower Young Chinese Women

The Oh Collective in Shanghai is here to “close the pleasure gap” for its clientele in China and abroad

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Beatrice Tamagno Headshot
6:29 PM HKT, Tue January 10, 2023 3 mins read

In this month’s Brandstorm we introduce The Oh Collective, an all-female sex toy brand celebrating female pleasure and spreading sex education in China and abroad. Brandstorm is a monthly series featuring notable Chinese brands in the worlds of fashion, beauty, and retail.

Despite the merciless heat wave that choked Shanghai last summer, Winxi Kan and Diana Lin were frequently on the move, jumping from one meeting to the next under the scorching sun. Sporting summer dresses and infectious smiles, the duo traveled with a rather unusual bundle: a bag full of The Oh Collective vibrators, bottles of lubricant, and feminine undergarments.

Social media savvy and free-spirited, Kan, Lin, and their partners Eden Chiang and Simona Xu are the founders of The Oh Collective (TOC), a company devoted to encouraging and celebrating female pleasure.

From ‘Hump Day Dinners’ to Sex Education

Some might wonder, how is a sex collective even born? As it turns out, sometimes it happens in a corporate setting. The TOC team met while working for a big sportswear corporation in Shanghai.

“We became very good friends and met each other on a weekly basis. It would normally happen on Wednesdays, and we called these gatherings ‘Hump Day Dinners’,” giggles Xu.

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The Oh Collective with some of their colorful products

As the iconic TV show Sex and the City has shown the world, when girlfriends meet up over dinner and drinks, the conversation often turns to what happens between the sheets.

“At the time we were all in relationships, and as often happens with sex, it becomes stale and you even stop talking about it,” recalls Xu. “So we thought it would be fun to give each other tasks every week, whether it was just for us, or for us and our partners.”

The punishment for not completing such tasks was to take a shot during the following ‘Hump Day Dinner.’ The reward for completing their tasks, on the other hand, was a visible improvement in their respective sex lives.

This lighthearted and spontaneous experiment sparked a thought: What if we could make this happen for other women?

TOC’s account on Chinese superapp WeChat came to life in 2020, and quickly attracted vibrant community members who were hungry for sex education content, which is limited on the Chinese internet.

China’s Sexual Revolution Happens Online

Scholars have long taken notice of China’s “sexual revolution,” with some even applauding the uprooting of traditional sexual values, which saw more permissive attitudes from women.

A scientific paper even states that the internet is a primary catalyst for the revolution, and has allowed Chinese youths to explore and express their sexuality in ways that seemed unfathomable just a decade ago.

Talking about sex on the strictly-regulated Chinese internet can be tricky, however. In 2021, livestreamers were banned from promoting sex toys, and even dating apps have experienced crackdowns. To dodge censors, influencers and collectives like TOC often resort to clever techniques such as the use of homophones and slang.

Even Western social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook censor nudity and sexual content.

“A lot of our images and campaigns don’t pass the censorship. But how do you advertise underwear without showing it?” sighs Lin.

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A campaign for The Oh Collective’s product line

It is in this challenging environment that TOC has managed to thrive. In just two years, the company has grown from a small community to a brand that’s now sold internationally. TOC’s products even graces the shelves of prestigious department stores such as Selfridges in London, UK.

In addition to sharing their knowledge with domestic and overseas clients, TOC has held a series of offline events and workshops centered around sexual wellness and the often-neglected practice of self-love.

“Last year we held a ‘Vulva 101 Workshop’ here in Shanghai,” states Xu proudly before explaining how TOC has created a safe and fun environment for women who want to get to know themselves — and their intimate parts — better.

Happiness Can Be Bought, and It Vibrates at Three Different Speeds

However, knowledge is not often all it takes to orgasm. “Some of us had used sex toys regularly, while others were only beginning to experiment with them,” says Kan. “When we started to research the market, we realized that 99% of sex toy companies are owned by men.”

The duo recounts how designing products for women was challenging in the beginning.

“Between highly-fetishized toys and giant dildos, much of what’s available on the market revolves around male-driven fantasies and long-standing misconceptions around female pleasure.”

“During our research, we noticed most women don’t reach orgasms solely through penetrative sex,” points out Kan. Everything about TOC, from the brand’s product packaging to campaigns, is designed to be female-friendly and inclusive.

Within the TOC team itself, not everybody claims to be experienced with sex toys, hence the importance of featuring ‘beginner products’ and including colorful and straight-to-the-point manuals.

As for those who think that sex toys are for desperate single gals, think again! TOC recently launched Dream Team, a multi-purpose kit designed to be enjoyed with one’s partner.

The duo admits that because the industry is barely regulated in China, the burden of quality control falls on the team, and they take it very seriously. “We had over 50 vibrators shipped from different manufacturers. We checked the hand feel and functionality, and we tried them ourselves,” Kan tells RADII.

While this might sound like a dream job to many, it took a great deal of time and effort to find manufacturers who could provide materials that were up to international standards.

“One of them is a woman like us. She uses all the toys herself, so she totally gets where we are coming from,” says Lin, who believes that speaking the local language in China is almost a must to run a business like theirs.

If all this talk of sex toys has you intrigued, be sure to visit TOC’s website and social media channels for a healthy dose of informative and beginner-friendly sex ed. As Lin gently reminds RADII: “Masturbating is just a nice way to check in with ourselves and relax.”

All images courtesy of The Oh Collective

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