Our 10 Favorite China Only Posts Of The Year
If you happen to have $30,000 lying around and are looking for the perfect gift for your Chinese photographer friend, you can do no better than Leica’s limited-edition, 24-carat gold-plated MP camera.
This China-only camera, which comes with its own custom wooden box, is limited to a production run of only 60 cameras, each numbered from 1949-2009. In addition to red calf leather on the camera’s body, etched atop the lens and body are the words “Long Live the People’s Republic of China” (中华人民共和国万岁), written in what LuxuryLaunches refers to as “Mao-style calligraphy.”
While it’s unlikely that many of these rare, incredibly expensive Leicas will be purchased and used by professional photographers, we wouldn’t be surprised if several of them are given away as “gifts.”
Bentley unveiled two China-only special editions of its flagship Continental model, the Continental Flying Spur Speed China and the Continental GT Design Series China, both of which were developed exclusively for the Chinese market.
Although these models lack the distinctly “Chinese” cultural or historical elements we saw last fall in Ferrari’s one-off Lu Hao GTB 599, certain low-key color elements and name badges conspicuously displayed on the treadplate and center console. Additionally, the Continental GT Design Series China will be the first-ever Bentley model to include the option of orange and magenta exterior color schemes.
Swiss luxury watchmaker Titoni — no stranger to the China market, as a corporate partner at the Shanghai World Expo’s Swiss pavilion — unveiled a China-only “Panda” watch design, based on a painting by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Qikai. Zhang has made a name for himself in the Chinese art world with his often humorous depictions of one of China’s national symbols, and, considering the seemingly perpetual love of high-end Swiss watches and pandas in China, it seems Titoni has hit something of a home run in their first China design partnership.
From Xinmin (translation by Jing Daily team):
Sichuan artist Zhang Qikai’s oil painting “Re-entry” was chosen by Swiss watchmaker Titoni as a watchface design. What’s more, this is the first time a native [Chinese] artist has been chosen for a high-end global brand partnership! Yesterday, Zhang’s “Panda” was unveiled at the Sichuan Fine Art Museum, and [we understand] that Titoni’s “Panda” watch will be limited to a production run of 250 pieces, each of which will cost 13,800 RMB (US$2,021).
The Financial Times posted a good article on Shanghai’s ongoing luxury boom, which has seen brands like Tiffany, Omega, Blancpain, Breguet, Louis Vuitton, and Ermenegildo Zegna opening lavish boutiques in the city since April alone. The article goes on to mention the special China-only items that have been designed by a number of top luxury brands:
Luxury groups report a welcome stream of souvenir sales, but the main goal was clearly to show respect for the rising might of Chinese luxury consumers.
Prada, which has never in 150 years of the World’s Fair history designed a product linked to an Expo, says it was “natural” to “give recognition to this high moment” in China.
It is showing an extensive line of Expo-inspired products, from shopping totes to key fobs. At its store on Shanghai’s luxury-glutted Nanjing West Road, an Expo tote perches atop a metre-high red and white spotted mushroom.
With the buying power of young, middle-class urban Chinese professionals — as well as their thirst for imported spirits — growing, we’ve seen China-only bottles from spirits makers like Chivas Regal, Grand Marnier, and now Absolut, which collaborated with the young Chinese pop artist Gao Yu on an edition of 350,000 bottles that became available in China this August.
Though the contents of the bottles remains the same, Absolut’s Gao Yu-designed “72变” (72 bian, or “72 transformations”) bottles display a compelling mixture of ancient Chinese culture and the contemporary renaissance most clearly visible in cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Yu’s bottle design features a heavily stylized illustration of Sun Wukong — better known outside of China as “The Monkey King” from the epic Chinese novel Journey to the West (西遊記) — and the “72 transformations” of which Sun is capable are alluded to in the edition’s name.
The Expo is also providing some valuable visibility for a number of lesser-known companies from countries that Chinese consumers don’t yet associate with distinctive luxury brands. Pavilions are showcasing everything from Australian wool to Finnish bags in what is certainly a “win-win” for Chinese consumers (who benefit from more choice) and foreign manufacturers (who get a chance to easily reach this captive audience).
Golla, winner of the Finnish “Company of the Year” in 2009, specializes in developing fashionable, innovative bags for portable electronics, used the Finnish Pavilion to their advantage. Being proactive in the market, catering directly to the tastes of Chinese consumers by creating exclusive limited editions, and donating to Chinese charities. It looks like Golla has done its homework on success in China, 2010-style.
BMW M3 Tiger Limited Edition Roars Into China (September 7)
We’ve seen some of the world’s top high-end automakers pulling out all the stops to appeal to China’s wealthy elite. From special China-only models by Rolls-Royce to one-off artist collaborations by Ferrari to special elongated models by nearly every major carmaker worth its salt, the mantra in the China auto market seems to be, “if you build it, stamp ‘China Limited Edition’ on it and jack up the price, they will come.”
Apparently, BMW has heard this loud and clear, as the company recently announced it was going a step further than just producing more typical elongated sedans, and will release a very limited (only 30 produced) edition, China-only M3 Tiger — so named because 2010 is, in the Chinese lunar calendar, the year of the tiger — in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the M3’s entrance to the China market.
To celebrate its fifth anniversary in the China market — where it currently operates boutiques in Beijing and Shanghai — the French fashion house Chloé has unveiled a China-only Marcie handbag, limited to a run of only 78.
Sure to be highly sought-after by the country’s luxury-obsessed, who have recently splashed out on limited-edition products by Chanel and Prada, localization in Chloé’s China anniversary bag is limited only to its fiery red color and numbered “China 5th Anniversary Limited Edition” bronze plate.
Adapted from Chloé’s global “Marcie” line, this handbag is fashioned in red-washed calfskin, with a brown leatherstrap and beaded clasp. The metal accents are faded in order to lend a retro look.
Anna Sui x JOYCE Limited Edition Flash Drive (October 18)
Designer Anna Sui has teamed up with JOYCE to create a line ofChina-only USB flash drives, limited to an run of 100. Shoppers who spend more than 3000 yuan (US$452) or purchase more than four “butterfly” t-shirts between November 1 – 21 will receive the drives at Anna Sui locations in Shanghai.
While this seems like an unusual promotion, it’s not the first time JOYCE has partnered with a designer to create a USB drive — last year the late Alexander McQueen created a drive in the shape of a matte black skull, which was sold at JOYCE Hong Kong. Each black-and-purple Anna Sui USB drive will come in a special gift box and feature 16 Swarovski crystals.
Porsche is set to send a delegation of its limited-edition 911 “Edition Style” series. Limited to a run of 188 vehicles, and expected to cost around US$225,000 (1.5 million yuan), the 911 Edition Style series features a limited-edition dashboard plaque and customized treadplate. However, unlike other recent limited-edition models like the Bentley Continental China, which Jing Daily profiled last spring, Porsche doesn’t appear to be planning any further modifications to the 911 Edition Style model specifically for the China market. (Though the fact that they’re producing only 188 of them seems like a subtle nod to China, where the number eight is considered auspicious.)