SHANGHAI— As China prepares for the first Chinese New Year holiday rush after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on January 8, brands released their Year of the Rabbit campaigns for the key gifting season.
As the country’s economy is expected to experience a steady U-shaped recovery and the luxury sector is expected to grow 5-10% in 2023, brands are launching Chinese New Year capsule collections with a wide range of products and global retail outlets as Chinese buyers. resume the journey.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, tourism revenue rose 4% year-on-year to 26.5 billion renminbi, or $3.8 billion, during the 2022 Chinese New Year holiday, while New Year travel boom is expected this year.
This year, the Chinese New Year falls on January 22 and marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit, an energetic and prosperous animal said to be the luckiest of the 12 zodiac signs.
Pooky Lee, fashion curator and partner at Shanghai-based creative agency Poptag, said Chinese New Year provides “an opportunity for brands and designers to demonstrate their ability to create localized creative expressions of culture.”
Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci have created playful, childlike motifs of the rabbit on a range of products, including festive and casual outfits, handbags, jewelry and a popular gift item, the scarf.
Neither Chanel nor Hermès have released capsules for the occasion, but the latter is launching a rabbit-themed edition on its e-commerce site on the WeChat mini-program.
Balenciaga is also noticeably absent from the festive event, perhaps due to recent controversies over past ad campaigns. Its Year of Tiger campaign was well received last year.
Burberry created a Chinese New Year capsule featuring the brand’s signature TB monogram reimagined with bunny ears and cartoon-inspired designs. Some are positioned back to back so that the ears meet to form a heart while others rest on the Burberry logo.
The collection is accompanied by a series of short films starring actors Qi Xi, Shi Pengyuan and sportswoman Zhao Lina. The footage was captured by video director Zika Liu and photographer Sky.
To add a touch of pop and fun, brands such as Givenchy, Mulberry, Moschino and Moncler have teamed up with famous bunnies to create a sense of nostalgia and appeal to a wide audience.
Mulberry has collaborated with Dutch bunny Miffy on a capsule collection featuring bags and accessories in Miffy’s signature orange, green and blue. Mulberry brought the collection to life with a campaign featuring cheerful models playing hide and seek against the backdrop of the Shanghai skyline.
The brand said the collection’s “bright color palette and playful designs encapsulate Miffy’s joyful and adventurous spirit”, while Miffy’s “youthful character” appeals to audiences around the world.
“In the short time since the launch of the collection, we have already seen a great reaction to the collaboration, both in China and in our global store and digital network,” added Mulberry.
American pop culture character Bugs Bunny has taken over Moschino’s Chinese New Year collection. Moschino’s biker bag now has bunny ears while biker jackets and silk pants are printed with insects wearing black tie and munching on a carrot.
Moncler has teamed up with Roger Rabbit, the protagonist of Disney’s 1988 animated film ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, with a campaign shot by up-and-coming Chinese photographer Sky, capturing Moncler ambassador Wang Yibo and models in a dreamlike setting.
Givenchy collaborated with another Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, for a capsule collection.
Bottega Veneta and Prada focused less on rabbits and instead created poetic narratives exploring the evolving meaning of Chinese New Year.
For Pooky Lee, “emotion-sensitive” campaigns can engage more with the younger generation of Chinese consumers who appreciate the creative and nuanced expression of brands. “It means you really understand and respect the complexity of the market,” Lee said.
Bottega Veneta has released a fashion film called “Reunion in Motion”, which depicts young travellers, including Chinese model Liu Wen, on their way home.
Echoing creative director Matthieu Blazy’s vision of setting “craftsmanship in motion”, the brand also set in motion a traditional green-skinned train that carried no brand markings, only the slogan “On the way to come back, happy new year.
The month-long initiative will take passengers from Shanghai to Dalian, making a special stopover in the Shanhaiguan district near the Great Wall, a nod to the Italian luxury brand’s destination campaign for the Year of the Tiger in 2022.
Prada has also taken a subtle approach, focusing on creating an intimate connection with its brand ambassadors. Titled “Memories of Beauty”, the campaign features Prada ambassadors Cai Xukun, Chunxia, actor Yufan Bai and model Du Juan alongside still life images of objects such as a record player and a pot of daffodils, which “bear witness to moments of their past.”
For Self-Portrait founder and creative director Han Chong, celebrating traditional values such as “unity, community and shared rituals” is equally important.
The contemporary womenswear brand enlisted British Chinese photographer Alexandra Leese and Chinese designer Audrey Hu to recreate a scene from a family banquet in rich colors and textures.
The collection features designs for women and children and includes cheongsam, or qipao, inspired holiday dresses in the brand’s signature guipure lace and crepe fabrics.
“This is our second Lunar New Year capsule collection, which is growing in popularity with our wholesale and retail partners,” Chong said. “We believe part of the success is due to our heartfelt yet contemporary approach, respecting traditions but also celebrating this important moment with modern sensibilities previously lacking in the market.”
Also, eager to forge new rituals and “treat every day,” Chinese designer brand Xu Zhi created a holiday campaign featuring friends and family dressed in their bunny-filled sweaters and cardigans. The designer, Daniel Xu Zhi Chen, even made an appearance himself.
“Our ancestors celebrated the 24 solar terms and 72 pentads, but I think the deeper meaning of creating rituals is to live in the moment, to document the love and goodwill around me, and to share this love with our customers,” Chen said.
For another local brand, Short Sentence, the Chinese New Year celebration extends into Valentine’s Day. The brand unveiled the “I love you too” campaign (with “too much” rhyming with the Chinese character for rabbit) featuring red and pink “Mr. Bunny” sweaters and a rabbit hole-shaped window display in the brand’s Shanghai store.
Short Sentence designer Lin Guan said the collection aims to break the stigma of expressing love and gratitude to family members and loved ones.
“The Chinese only express their love and admiration in a very reserved way. Love should not be expressed passionately; if you do it to your family members, it might be embarrassing,” Guan said. “But when you say, ‘I love you too,’ it’s less awkward.”