Since Chinese consumers have become one of the most important forces of global luxury consumption, special zodiac-themed items in celebration of China’s Lunar New Year have been produced by more luxury brands every year.
However, with Chinese luxury buyers becoming increasingly sophisticated as more members of the younger and well-educated generation enter the market, the tastes and needs of many consumers have changed. As a result, we’ve seen rising criticisms and discontent with the New-Year designs in the past two years from Chinese media and online commentators.
With the year of the rooster just around the corner, high-end brands have released their 2017 products celebrating this year’s zodiac sign. Some of the items have become the subject of online criticism or sarcasm from China’s mainstream media, social media influencers, and regular internet users.
First of all, Chinese customers don’t like it when they feel designers misinterpret or misunderstand Chinese culture.
When it comes to making cultural references to the Lunar New Year, they hoped to see richer and more authentic Chinese elements rather than overused ones. One user commented on MCM’s rooster-embroidered handbag, stating, “red, gold, and zodiac signs are symbols of Chinese New Year, but why do they [luxury brands] believe we want to carry a bag with a zodiac animal all year round?” Indeed, Chinese culture is reserved and implicit, so as one of the most important symbols of the Lunar New Year, a zodiac animal is not a thing that appears frequently in people’s daily life.
Chinese people will not spend money on these products if some cultural symbols do not fit with the public image of the brand.
For some brands that are traditionally not familiar with Chinese culture, it is hard for their designers to naturally and elegantly integrate authentic Chinese elements into the essence of their design. One prime example is Longchamp’s rooster handbag, which is featured in red and gold with an embroidered rooster. But the product seemed to attract an especially high number of negative comments and a low number of positive ones from Chinese netizens on Weibo. An online commentator said, “Simply adding an image of the rooster on a red-and-golden bag just has no sense of aesthetics.”
(Source: Jing Daily)