Loewe launched its Spring 2023 campaign inspired by Chinese monochrome ceramics earlier this month. The label’s new bag collection features colors such as Pale Aubergine glaze, Tea Dust glaze, and Pale Celadon glaze as an ode to the power and beauty of a single hue. To pay tribute to the artisans of Chinese porcelains, the house produced a documentary starring contemporary ceramic artists Deng Xiping and Natasha Daintry as well as Wang Guang Yao, a professor and research fellow at the Palace Museum in Beijing.
From November 10 to 13, Loewe hosted a monochrome ceramics-themed exhibition at the ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, presenting Deng’s ceramic artworks to local visitors. The brand will also sponsor the creation of a new monochrome ceramics educational program at the Jingdezhen Ceramic University that seeks to preserve this ancient craft and its cultural heritage.
Viewership and engagement for this campaign hit a record high on Loewe’s Chinese social media platforms. On Xiaohongshu, the campaign film collected almost 6,000 likes, which is 100 times more likes than the brand’s usual posts on the platform. Xiaohongshu users commented that Loewe deserves respect as it “acknowledged what the inspiration comes from” and “genuinely engaged local artisans and techniques.”
Chinese traditional cultures have been critical inspirations for luxury brands, especially when it comes to localization strategies. However, there is a fine line between resonating with and annoying Chinese consumers. As Jing Daily’s report Chinese Cultural Consumers: The Future of Luxury pointed out, today’s luxury shoppers approach consumption with a distinct cultural awareness and a concept of luxury that sets them apart from their Western counterparts, as well as the older generations.
In Loewe’s case, the campaign not only targets Chinese customers but also global ones, as the brand states on its global sites. Thus, the initiative is not just to please certain demographics with Chinese knowledge but also to introduce the culture to a broader audience. As creative director Jonathan Anderson shared in a statement, he came across monochrome ceramics during a trip to China. “The first time I saw monochrome ceramics, I was overwhelmed by its infinite charm. China’s monochrome glaze has had a profound impact on ceramic art around the world from ancient times to the present, and has laid the foundation for many potters today.”
Surreptitious and superficial appropriation of Chinese culture can cause scandals in the market. Brands that take inspiration from local traditions need to do their research, show sincerity, and be transparent in crediting the culture. Otherwise, negative consumer sentiment can dilute the brand reputation that global companies have worked so hard to build.