LONDON – As regional COVID-19 outbreaks have put several major cities in China on high alert, luxury brands are banking on the country’s tradition of gift giving to kick off the Year of the Tiger on a high note.
With China set to account for 45% of luxury spending by 2025, according to Bain, brands are prioritizing China-related projects to boost local demand. Beyond the introduction of Chinese New Year capsules, brands have also multiplied traditional festivals and e-commerce events such as Chinese Valentine’s Day and Singles Day.
Due to strict border controls and lack of travel, brands are rolling out Chinese New Year themed projects globally this year, making the holiday season more accessible to the Chinese diaspora across the globe.
Gucci, for example, is launching retail pop-ups for its Gucci Tiger collection in several Chinese-dense regions in North America. The brand will host experiences dedicated to Holt Renfrew Yorkdale and Holt Renfrew Vancouver, while New York stores Wooster, Chicago Michigan Avenue, Las Vegas Forum Shops, Santa Clara Valley Fair and Manhasset will also offer pop-ins to showcase the collection.
The collection’s campaign features real tigers, photographed by Angelo Pennetta and designed by Creative Director Alessandro Michele. All products in this collection will be packaged in themed packaging and special labels featuring the Gucci Tiger print throughout.
Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Versace and many others are also launching vacation capsules simultaneously in China and abroad.
Scroll through social media and you will notice that brands like Balenciaga, Valentino and Kenzo have integrated Chinese New Year capsules into their global communication channels.
Cameron Lee, a mother of three who moved to Vancouver at the age of 18, said her choices for Chinese New Year luxury shopping have seen a noticeable increase since last year.
“Before the pandemic, I used to buy Chinese zodiac themed items from my favorite brands in China after I returned to see my family. Most Chinese New Year coins are not easy to find here. But now things have really changed. Brands here send me red envelopes and invite me to store events around Chinese New Year, ”she added.
Originally from China, the tiger ranks third out of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. According to the lunar calendar, the year of the tiger will begin on February 1.
Like its eponymous zodiac animal, the Year of the Tiger is often associated with strength, courage, and ambition, and those born in this year are seen as more confident, enthusiastic, and generous.
The tiger has been a favorite inspiration for fashion designers over the decades. Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Dries Van Noten and even the recent Louis Vuitton x Nigo collaboration all featured the telltale stripes and rich orange.
This year, some brands are taking a literal approach to the animal, offering items with realistic depictions of the tiger.
Louis Vuitton’s Chinese New Year capsule features tiger designs, depicted crawling on its iconic trunk, scarves, plates, and a set of puzzles, while the Ferragamo silk scarf and handbag are decorated with an artistic tiger pattern designed by modern artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu.
Dior Men once again collaborated with American painter Kenny Scharf on a cartoon white tiger as a key visual for his vacation capsule. The brand’s women’s offering, however, uses pink butterflies to symbolize hope and nature for the New Year.
Burberry, Fendi and Versace all associate their monograms with the red color and tiger motifs of the capsules. The latter’s campaign recreates scenes from a Chinese New Year gala with a demonstration of acrobatics and Olympic skater Chen Lu and dancer Liu Jia playing the role of hosts.
Bottega Veneta’s holiday campaign swaps its signature green for an orange hue and adds a subtle tiger motif to its intrecciato Cassette leather bag.
Prada and its sister brand Miu Miu keep the holiday campaign true to their identity. No obvious arch to any traditional Chinese element apart from the color red. Instead, Prada is associating its campaign with a good cause.
As part of the “Action in the Year of the Tiger” project, Prada is donating to the China Green Foundation’s “Walking with the Tiger and the Leopard” program to raise awareness about the protection of wildlife and biodiversity in China.
It also includes an art project, which is an open invitation to creative talents under the age of 30 in art schools in China and beyond to present their personal interpretation of the tiger, whether through painting, design or the sculpture. Participants can submit their work through the Prada website.
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