As Lunar New Year approaches on February 10, brands across fashion, beauty and lifestyle have eagerly unveiled their collections in honour of the auspicious Year of the Dragon. Among other trends, artistic collaborations and dragon-themed merchandise have become prominent feature in a diverse range of offerings.
Read on to see how brands are embracing Lunar New Year festivities in 2024.
Artistic collaborations are in fashion: Kering Group, Shanghai Tang, Asahi Super Dry
Luxury group Kering, renowned for its collaborations with Chinese artists during Lunar New Year campaigns, continues the tradition by inviting prominent contemporary Chinese artist Chen Ke to collaborate on an art project titled “Dragon Boat” for 2024, spanning original artwork as a New Year greeting card and other digital formats. Together, Kering and Chen Ke will unveil new works of art that the Group’s mission of “Empowering Imagination” and aligning with its core values of creativity, innovation, and the empowerment of women.
Shanghai Tang, on the other hand, celebrates its 30th anniversary alongside the Year of the Dragon. On its milestone year, the brand has embarked on a collaboration with artist Jacky Tsai, underscoring the artistic heritage seen as integral to Shanghai Tang’s brand identity. The ready-to-wear collection pays homage to the majestic dragon through its intricate dragon pattern. Drawing inspiration from the Chinese knot’s distinctive shape, reminiscent of knotting ropes to symbolise memory-keeping, it embodies the rich heritage of ancient Chinese culture.
Luxury fragrance brand Creed has joined hands with artist Zhang Ding, in collaboration with UCCA Lab under the UCCA Group, to create an exclusive limited fragrance collection for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. A captivating interpretation of the dragon motif serves as the core element for the fragrance artist collection, offering a fresh portrayal of an iconic symbol deeply rooted in Chinese culture.
Also leveraging an artistic collaboration, Asahi Super Dry embraces the spirit of the Lunar New Year with a captivating limited edition Pixel Art packaging design, created in partnership with award-winning Japanese artist Hermippe. Celebrating the fusion of modernity and tradition, the collaborative packaging showcases a pixelated dragon amidst a vibrant cityscape, available as a limited offering only in Asia Pacific.
Localisation rules: Zara, Loewe
Zara has embraced the festive spirit by launching exclusive pop-up stores across mainland China to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. These special pop-ups, created in collaboration with Xi Xing Le, blend traditional symbolism and modern fashion.
“This collaboration can be viewed as Zara’s endeavour to further localise its brand image,” notes Jacopo Pesavento, founder and chief executive officer of Branding Records.
“By partnering with Xi Xing Le, an edgy Neo-Chinese style fashion brand, Zara aims to reach a broader audience that may not have been covered by mainstream fast fashion brands. From a brand and distribution perspective, Zara, a fast fashion giant, joining forces with Xi Xing Le, an indie designer brand, allows Zara to strengthen its identity as a fashion trendsetter — signalling to Chinese consumers that they always understand their preferences.”
Meanwhile on the high-end range, Spanish fashion house Loewe has collaborated with Chinese master jade carvers to craft a remarkable pendant series that showcases the art of jade sculpting: Xiaojin Yin, Qijing Qiu and Lei Cheng have fashioned pendants that symbolise fortune and abundance for the Year of the Dragon. These pieces will be exclusively available at Casa Loewe concept stores in Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu. Loewe’s Flamenco Purse Mini draws inspiration from the elegance of ancient jade carvings, boasting a variety of vibrant colours. What sets it apart is an interior pocket adorned with a precious jade stone (pictured above), carefully selected to match the bag’s hue.
Nostalgia is also creating desire among consumers, with developments such as Central Market, a historic, recently revamped lifestyle destination in Hong Kong, taking note. Central Market will mount various events such as the LT Duck display (in collaboration with Mr. L.T. Lam – the legendary “Father of the Yellow Rubber Duck), Hulu Toy Exhibition, an immersive exhibition presenting vintage and heritage toys, and a series of culture, sports and tourism-themed activities.
“Despite the resumption of overseas travel, we are noticing an increasing interest in the nostalgic Hong Kong culture in general, which align with the positioning and vision of Central Market. We are seeing a rising demand for refreshing collective memories among Hong Kong consumers and tourists,” says Angie Chung, general manager, Central Market, at Chinachem Group.
The dragon motif: Tag Heuer, Louis Vuitton, Tumi
This being the Year of the Dragon, use of the dragon motif holds immense allure for brands aiming to capture the attention and loyalty of Chinese consumers.
“We can see brands going above and beyond to showcase their creativity with distinct capsule collections, collaborations with artists, installations, innovative window displays and, of course, the increasingly decadent Lunar New Year red packet gifting,” says Lara Jefferies, founder and managing director of public relations firm Plug.
Presented in a luxurious and vibrant red box, adorned with the Chinese Dragon symbol in elegant beige, Tag Heuer‘s Carrera Chronograph’s Year of the Dragon edition aim to present the essence of Chinese culture. The capsule collection’s designs are intended to bring good fortune and prosperity, and will be exclusively available at Tag Heuer boutiques and select retail partners.
“From Louis Vuitton’s impressive large-scale, in-store dragon installations to Bottega Veneta’s Year of the Dragon-inspired iconic product iterations and Tumi’s artist collaboration with Weber Zhang for their 11-piece Dragon capsule, the luxury industry is putting significant effort and resources into these localised initiatives,” Jefferies says.
Citing examples, Jefferies continues: “Innovation can be seen across industries with brands such as Martell producing limited-edition Year of the Dragon-inspired bottles with bespoke gift packaging and Tea WG releasing a new limited-edition Grand Dragon Tea to welcome in the new year.”
Branding Records’ Jacopo Pesavento adds, “In China, the dragon holds a unique and significant position in the zodiac. The appearance of a pink dragon in front of landmarks in Shanghai during this event not only warms up the festive atmosphere, but also sparks discussions. In offline pop-up stores, apart from dragons, there are numerous pink peaches – a symbol of fortune and longevity in Chinese culture, adding youthful energy. As a brand, the purpose of launching activities is twofold. Firstly, it aims to witness a short-term growth in business, and secondly, it strives to expand the long-term brand power.”
Celebratory yet sustainable
In addition to special-edition launches, red packets and elaborate packaging have traditionally been part of Lunar New Year gifting. A survey by Delta Global unveils that 81 percent of luxury customers in Asia Pacific often retain their packaging after a purchase, with 63 percent repurposing it for storage of other items. Some brands are moving away from single-use packaging and adopting a more sustainable approach, by either minimising material use or crafting packages worth storing for years to come.
“Recently, there has been a growing demand for a more sustainable approach to Chinese New Year gifting and other significant celebratory moments. This Chinese New Year, in particular, has become an additional opportunity for brands to showcase their dedication to sustainability, thus strengthening their bond with their fans,” says Robert Lockyer, CEO of Delta Global.