Luxury Brands Celebrate the Year of the Rat

    The Lunar New Year is always a good excuse for luxury brands to offer cultural products to Chinese consumers, and this year, it’s the Year of the Rat!
    The lunar new year is always a good excuse for luxury brands to offer cultural products to Chinese consumers, and this year, Metal Rats are the theme. Photo: Chopard. Illustration: Haitong Zheng/Jing Daily.
    Adina-Laura AchimAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    McKinsey forecasts that by 2025, the value of the global luxury-goods market will grow to 386 billion (2.7 trillion RMB), and Chinese consumers will account for 44 percent of that market. Therefore, brands can’t emphasize the importance of those buyers enough.

    Given their power, it makes sense that Chinese buyers are now dictating trends and influencing collections, and companies hoping to get their attention now design products exclusively for those consumers. This can be seen in luxury retailers’ yearly appeal to Chinese luxury fans with new collections that honor China’s Lunar New Year.

    In the past, some unfortunate luxury designs came off as tone-deaf and were ridiculed in the media and on social media, while some other luxury offerings in China quickly sold out. According to Flare, “the commodification of Lunar New Year isn’t anything new, but it has definitely become more and more popular among Western retailers over the past few years.”

    Since 2020 is the Year of the Rat, luxury retailers will be proposing a wide range of rat-inspired luxury objects, from high-end watches, expensive jewelry, and top-quality bags to leather accessories and cigars. Unlike many past luxury holiday offerings that lacked cultural sensitivity, the 2020 capsule collection products highlighted for this Lunar New Year are classy and offer high sales potential. Let’s take a look at which brands are winning big with their rat-themed designs:

    Once again, watch brand Chopard has come up with a collection that glorifies the cultural heritage of their Asian clientele. Their limited-edition L.U.C. XP Urushi Year of the Rat timepieces have been crafted in collaboration with the Yamada Heiando Studio — artisans that are renowned for the ancestral Japanese craft of urushi. The timepieces are crafted in 18-karat rose gold and are powered by the L.U.C 96.17-L caliber.

    Another watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin, celebrates the fine craftsmanship that artisans have brought to the brand through “two new creations, realized in twelve models each.” The newly imagined rat designs celebrate the technical excellence of Caliber 2460 G4 while bringing to light the creative genius of these artisans.

    Meanwhile, Jaquet Droz has designed beautiful watches in 18-karat gold that are embellished with rubies or diamonds. The Petite Heure Minute Relief Rat comes in an 18-karat white gold dial with onyx that the artisans have hand-engraved with rubies. The same pattern is also available in rose gold, and the Petite Heure Minute Rat comes in an 18-karat red gold case set with 232 diamonds.

    Louis Vuitton returns to the China market with a charm and a key holder in a quirky rat design. The cute little rodent comes in the house’s world-famous Monogram Eclipse canvas and has a stud that crowns the piece “as a reference to the iconic trunks in Louis Vuitton's archives.”

    The limited-edition Estee Lauder Year of the Rat Powder Compact is the perfect gift idea for beauty connoisseurs. This collector’s item comes filled with a lightweight perfecting pressed powder in shade light/medium and is refillable. It’s also delivered in an exquisite presentation box.

    Real dandies will rejoice at the sight of Davidoff's “Year of the Rat” limited edition cigars. Once again, the Davidoff Master Blenders have designed a singular cigar that perfectly blends tobaccos from multiple sources. According to Edward Simon, Chief Marketing Officer of Oettinger Davidoff AG, the “Master Blenders and design teams continue to challenge the status quo and have again excelled” at creating an exceptional cigar. The unique edition comes with “an exclusive Davidoff cigar, pipe, pipe tobacco, and accessories to celebrate the Chinese New Year for the eighth time,” says Simon.

    Longchamp partnered with none other than Mr. Bags for their New Year Capsule Collection. This is the third collaboration between the two powerhouses, and this collection was inspired by the concept “of Chihuo, meaning a foodie in Chinese,” according to WWD. The limited series will encompass seven handbags in different sizes and a T-shirt. All the designs are youthful, quirky, and fun, and the classical supermini Le Pliage resembling a mouse should be an instant sellout.

    Celebrated baby goods brand Mountain Buggy has come up with a limited edition print that honors the Year of the Rat. According to their CEO, Campbell Gower, the design presents “a ‘mischief’ of rats playing amongst a midnight meadow of lilies and African violets — the lucky flowers for Year of the Rat.” Mountain Buggy started producing these limited-edition prints in 2016, and the patterns quickly became a clever way for the company to show “their appreciation for, and connectedness to, Chinese culture.”

    On a different note, sneakerheads born in the Year of the Rat can keep an eye out for the Nike Year of the Rat Wildwood 90 Free Trail. This collector’s item launched a decade ago, but thanks to its unique features and design, the kicks remain fashionable today.

    Disney fans can still acquire pieces from the 2018 Gucci Mickey Mouse collection, like the White Disney Edition Mickey Mouse Top Handle Bag, colorful graphic tees, and whimsical dresses.

    And finally, Gen Zers and younger luxury buyers will rejoice at the sight of Jeremy Scott’s Moschino AW17 Rat-A-Porter collection where cartoon rats cover bags, I-phone cases, sweaters, and dresses.

    It’s safe to say that 2020 should enhance the image of the rat in the luxury world.

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