LONDON — While regional COVID-19 outbreaks have put several major cities on high alert in China, luxury brands are banking on the nation’s gifting tradition to kickstart the year of the tiger with a bang.
With China poised to account for 45 percent of luxury spending by 2025, according to Bain, brands are prioritizing China-related projects to spur local demand. Beyond introducing Chinese New Year capsules, brands have also been doubling down on traditional festivals and e-commerce-led events such as Chinese Valentine’s Days and Singles’ Day.
Due to strict border controls and a lack of travel, this year brands are rolling out the Chinese New Year-themed projects on a global scale, making the holiday season more accessible to the affluent Chinese diaspora across the globe.
Gucci, for example, is launching retail pop-ups for its Gucci Tiger collection in several Chinese-dense areas in North America. The brand will host dedicated experiences in Canada’s Holt Renfrew Yorkdale and Holt Renfrew Vancouver, while stores in New York Wooster, Chicago Michigan Avenue, Las Vegas Forum Shops, Santa Clara Valley Fair and Manhasset will also feature pop-ins to showcase the collection.
The collection campaign features real tigers, shot by Angelo Pennetta and conceived by creative director Alessandro Michele. All products from this collection will be wrapped in themed packaging and special labels adorned with the allover Gucci Tiger print.
Brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Versace and many more are also releasing holiday capsules both in China and abroad simultaneously.
Scroll through social media and you’ll notice that brands like Balenciaga, Valentino and Kenzo have incorporated 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 visible increase since last year.
“Before the pandemic, I would buy the Chinese zodiac-themed items from my favorite brands in China after I travel back to see my family. Most of the Chinese New Year pieces 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.
Native to China, the tiger ranks third among 12 animals in the Chinese zodiacs. Under the lunar calendar, the year of the tiger will commence from Feb. 1.
Like its eponymous zodiac animal, the year of the tiger is often associated with strength, courage and ambition, and those who are born during this year are believed to be more confident, enthusiastic and generous.
The tiger has been a favorite inspiration for fashion designers throughout the decades. Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Dries Van Noten and even the recent Louis Vuitton x Nigo collaboration have all featured the telltale stripes and rich orange.
This year, some brands take a literal approach to the animal, offering items with realistic portrayals of the tiger.
Louis Vuitton’s Chinese New Year capsule features motifs of a tiger, depicted crawling on top of its iconic trunk, on scarves, plates and a puzzle set, while Ferragamo’s silk foulard 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 the key visual for its holiday capsule. The brand’s women’s offering, however, utilizes pink butterflies to symbolize hope and nature for the new year.
Burberry, Fendi and Versace all combine their monograms with the color red and tiger patterns for the capsules. The latter’s campaign recreates scenes from a Chinese New Year gala with an acrobatics display and Olympic figure skater Chen Lu and dancer Liu Jia acting as hosts.
Bottega Veneta’s holiday campaign swaps its signature green to an orange hue and adds a subtle tiger pattern to its Cassette intrecciato leather bag.
Prada and its sister brand Miu Miu keep the holiday campaign true to their identities. No obvious bow to any Chinese traditional elements besides the color red. Instead, Prada links its campaign with a good cause.
Under the project “Action in the Year of the Tiger,” Prada is making a donation to the China Green Foundation’s “Walking With Tiger and Leopard” program to raise awareness for wildlife and biodiversity protection in China.
It also includes an art project, which is an open invitation for creative talents under 30 at art schools in China and beyond to present their personal interpretation of the tiger, whether via painting, design, or sculpture. Participants can submit their works via Prada’s website.
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