September is usually mooncake season in China, centered around the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls on September 10 this year. A time for family reunions, this is one of the most significant traditional festivals in Chinese culture, in addition to Chinese New Year.
Unlike the Lunar New Year or the country’s many Valentine’s Days, when luxury brands launch special-edition products, the Mid-Autumn Festival is more of an opportunity for houses to retain their relationships with local VIP clients and stakeholders. As roundness symbolizes togetherness and completeness in Chinese culture, sharing mooncakes has become a go-to way to mark the occasion. But in recent years, many global names have opted to omit or cut down on the quantity of mooncakes in their gift boxes.
There are multiple reasons for this shift. Firstly, overpriced and excessively luxurious packaging has recently come under the scrutiny of Chinese market regulators. Though luxury’s mooncake boxes are usually gifted rather than sold, extravagance is not necessarily advantageous for a brand’s image in the mainland. Moreover, sales of mooncakes are not limited to the fall season and have seen a normal distribution outside of the Mid-Autumn Festival, according to JD.com’s data from 2021 to 2022.
Below, Jing Daily shares five playful takes on Mid-Autumn Festival gift boxes and explains how luxury brands integrate their DNA into the designs.
Louis Vuitton pays tribute to traditional printing craftsmanship through this year’s gift box. Spotlighting woodcut watermarking — an image reproduction technique that arose with the engraving printing technique in the Sui and Tang dynasties — the box allows users to DIY their own versions of the Ming dynasty prints, “Chinese Poetry Paper By The Master Of The Ten Bamboo Hall” (十竹斋笺谱). The gift not only exemplifies Chinese printmaking but also how to communicate traditional culture to the world.
Equipped with mineral pigments, the special box features the concept of “Four Treasures of the Study” — an expression used to denote the brush, ink, paper, and ink stone used in Chinese and other East Asian calligraphic traditions. Local fashion KOLs such as @Jiweiran and @cristine have posted the box on Xiaohongshu to share their adoration.
Inspired by its 2022 Fall/Winter collection, Fendi’s mooncake boxes combine the crescent-shaped Fendigraphy handbag and the O’Lock monogram pattern, both of which capture the Mid-Autumn Festival vibes. The house rolled out two versions of the gift boxes this year: a luxury edition and a standard one.
The luxury edition adopts the iconic crescent shape of the Fendigraphy handbag, and the embossed FF logo is clearly visible on the outer shell of the gift box. When it is opened and the lower layer is turned out, the crescent-shaped box gradually turns into a full moon shape. This version also contains a ceramic tray as a container for the mooncakes. Meanwhile, the standard version features a Chinese-style dim sum packaging that also speaks to Mid-Autumn Festival culture.
Valentino douses its gift box in the iconic hot pink hue from its Fall 2023 “Pink PP” collection. Although mooncakes are absent, the box features a bucket for lottery poetry, a fortune telling practice that originated in China in which querents request answers from a sacred oracle lot. Also included is a booklet titled “The Fortune Teller” where users can look into the meanings of their lottery.
Canada Goose highlights its commitment to sustainability with each detail. Made of wood, the gift box is decorated with carved Chinese window patterns surrounding the brand’s logo. Looking like a suitcase on the outside, it turns into a Chinese chess board once flipped. In addition to six mooncakes and portable tea bags, the box contains chess pieces to complement the board game.
All of the individual mooncake packaging is made from recycled paper, and there is nothing extra or wasted in the gift box. Moreover, the combination of mooncakes, tea drinking, and Chinese chess symbolizes the typical refined lifestyle of Chinese literati. As such, the brand’s Mid-Autumn Festival concept has been warmly received in China.
Marni puts a youthful spin on its gift box by tapping into Gen Z’s latest craze: outdoor activities. Along with mooncakes, the package comes with a picnic mat and a frisbee with Marni’s logo. Camping and playing frisbee have become two of this summer’s most popular outdoor activities by young locals, especially after months of lockdown in major cities. Currently, there are 633,000 UGC posts on the lifestyle-driven social media Xiaohongshu. Unlike many other luxury gift boxes that are exclusive to brands’ top-tier customers and media professionals, Marni’s are complimentary to those who purchase over $3,594 (25,000 RMB) worth of products at the label’s local boutiques.