Although Western brands mostly had a down year in 2019, the Chinese market remained a solid source of growth. According to the 2019 McKinsey China Luxury Report, China is expected to deliver 65 percent of the world’s luxury spending by 2025. Despite some negative influence from an economic slowdown and a trade war, most luxury brands performed well in the Chinese market last year. As an example, BoF pointed out that LVMH saw “unheard of growth rates” in 2019.
Given the strong spending power of the Chinese market, Chinese New Year has traditionally been a great time to connect with local customers. But Chinese consumers have high expectations of cultural sensitivity from brands, and the sequence of brand missteps that happened last year cannot be duplicated. This year — the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese zodiac — many fashion houses have designed exclusive products to celebrate this important Chinese festival. Below, Jing Daily has selected five CNY 2020 products that stand out from the crowd:
Gucci x Disney
This year, Disney’s Mickey and Minnie are the hot IP that brands want to collaborate with, for obvious reasons. The Italian high-fashion brand Gucci was the first to win Disney’s admission ticket, giving Mickey a starring role in their Chinese New Year collection print that’s covering products ranging from ready-to-wear to suitcases. Its accessories line uses the same fabric — a Mini GG Supreme featuring a Mickey print and their classic brown and beige hues — and its ready-to-wear products utilize different colors and styles with vivid Mickey prints. Gucci also joined the new pop-up store craze and launched Gucci Mickey Pin popups in seven mainland cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, and their interactive Mickey Mirror indicates that Gucci is using digitization in an effort to better connect with young customers.
ETRO + SMFK x Tom & Jerry
This year, the niche brands ETRO and SMFK have grabbed the spotlight thanks to their IP collaboration with the classic cat-and-mouse cartoon Tom & Jerry. It’s worth noting that Tom & Jerry chose one Italian luxury brand and one Chinese streetwear brand to reinterpret these beloved cartoon characters — a recognition of the current demand for luxury and streetwear collabs from global consumers. And the combo makes for strong chemistry. The move also helped ETRO and SMFK gain a lot of exposure on Chinese social media while, for a large number of Millenials and Gen Zers, this IP brings back memories of childhood.
Burberry: the “bobo mouse”
This year, led by their chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci, Burberry introduced a self-designed CNY ambassador named “bobo mouse” — and it quickly won the hearts of Chinese netizens everywhere. This tiny ambassador is a cool mouse who loves traveling and adventure while wearing a signature red hat and classic Burberry trench coat. Since December 23, when “bobo mouse” first appeared on the brand’s official Wechat account, she was recognized as Burberry’s newest virtual influencer alongside the brand’s human spokesperson in China, Chinese actress Dongyu Zhou. Burberry’s playful special products all have a cute “bobo mouse” embellishment, and its Chinese marketing team did an excellent job of talking to local customers about the items.
Chloe: Chinese ink painting
Chloe holds close to its classic style with its CNY special edition, and this year, the brand invited British artist and illustrator Julie Verhoeven to create their icon, with Chinese ink painting techniques. The brand’s colorful and lively prints embody the designer’s love of color and the famous Chloe girls’ natural charm.
Mansur Gavriel: cut-paper art
This year, several niche brands did an amazing job of designing new CNY products. Mansur Gavriel, for example, used the traditional craft of Chinese cut paper for their limited-edition 2020 CNY mouse icon, and the results were breathtaking. To better speak to a Chinese audience, Mansur Gavriel invited the New York-based Chinese designer Cui Xu to design their hand-drawn and cut paper mouse.