February 2, 2019
Before, retailers were able to take a short break after the Christmas frenzy. Today? Local markets are not the only ones gearing up for Chinese New Year – international brands are, too.
Global retailers are no longer turning a blind eye to one of the world’s largest festivities, especially with China’s booming market. On top of that, the celebration has worldwide significance – including Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore – which gives retailers more reasons to capitalise on these growing markets.
However, there’s still a major difference in how global and local retailers target the masses. In fact, within the local market itself, we saw contrasts in trends, assortments and overall styles.
Let’s break it all down.
Global Retailers Mostly Ride On The Wave
International retailers create capsule collections. From sportswear giant Nike to luxury powerhouse Gucci, we saw themed apparels, shoes and accessories across the board.
Nike and Adidas both released limited edition sneakers, incorporating symbols of Chinese culture.
Nike Kyrie 5 from Nike. Credit: Nike News
Nike released two styles this year, and one of them was the Nike Kyrie 5, which drew inspiration from all 12 signs of the Zodiac. The shoes featured the ‘Bai Jia Yi’ pattern, otherwise known as traditional Chinese patchwork.
Yung 96 from Adidas. Credit: Stuff
Adidas revamped their iconic silhouettes for Chinese New Year. The Yung 96, for example, featured an embroidered lion face on the soles and heels.
Luxury retailers, on the other hand, went in another direction. Louis Vuitton and Gucci incorporated boars into their assortments, which is 2019’s Zodiac animal. This comes as no surprise since China’s luxury market is a lucrative one.
Superstition Pig Bag Charm and Keyholder. Credit: Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton’s 2019 capsule collection for Chinese New Year saw handbags, scarves and keychains in red that sported graphics of pigs.
Gucci’s Men’s piglet wool cardigan red. Credit: Gucci
Gucci’s 2019 Chinese New Year campaign generated the most buzz, as it featured real piglets. We saw bags, sneakers and sweaters with prints from the ‘Three Little Pigs’ cartoon in this collection.
It’s Different for the Local Markets
While global brands and retailers mostly release limited edition collections, it’s a different story for most markets in Asia.
It is customary to wear new clothes on the first day of Chinese New Year, with many believing that it would reel in good fortune. This opens up a multitude of market opportunities for local retailers.
From dresses to shoes, brands and retailers in the local market focus on creating an entire collection. Conceptualisation includes determining the right categories, colours, styles, silhouettes, prices and trends – all in the span of a few months. One collection can range from 25-40 items, depending on the size of the business.
Regional brands, for example, had a larger assortment than homegrown brands. The latter, however, was often heavily-driven by themed apparels.
To give a clearer picture, we’ve not only compared regional and homegrown brands but also 2018’s trends against the influx of certain categories and colours prior to Chinese New Year 2019.
Chinese New Year Trends: Categories
Regional SEA Brands: Evergreen Styles
Pomelo Fashion and Love, Bonito both have prominence in the Southeast Asian region, though Pomelo has a slightly wider reach in Thailand and Indonesia. Both brands have also released Chinese New Year collections this year.
Uptrend Categories from Love, Bonito and Pomelo Fashion. From left: Alfyn Printed Asymmetrical Cheongsam from Love, Bonito, V-Neck Tie Waist Capri Jumpsuit from Pomelo Fashion, Floral Embroidered Satin Shorts from Pomelo Fashion, Ortha Mandarin Collar Shift dress from Love, Bonito
In 2018, ethnic wear and jumpsuits & playsuits uptrended, though the former category’s increase was mostly from Love, Bonito. While ethnic wear was highly relevant to Chinese New Year, the popular styles of jumpsuits and playsuits bore little significance to the festivity. The bestselling pieces were more suited for workwear or semi-formal social gatherings, with plain colours and minimal flair.
A year later, the uptrend list saw a slightly different assortment, with shorts taking the #1 spot. Stripes, ruffles and high-waisted styles were in the bestsellers list. Ethnic wear, primarily cheongsams with a modern twist, remained in the top two, albeit in smaller percentages.
Local Homegrown Brands: Classic Favourites
Uptrend Categories from Dressabelle and Hervelvetvase. From left: Floral Placement Dress from Dressabelle, Versailles Floral Halter Top from Hervelvetvase, Cavern Wrap Jumpsuit from Hervetvetvase, Ribbed Sleeve Top with Bell Bottom Pants Set from Dressabelle
In 2018, the homegrown brands focused on the key categories of dresses and tops. A year after, the assortment varied, giving way for more jumpsuits & playsuits and co-ords.
With that said, our findings suggest that the uptrending styles for 2019 weren’t as large, as categories only got a 2% increase. This indicated that the key category mixes have worked well in the past and will continue on into 2019. The styles relevant to the festivity, have largely remained the same as last year, with the presence of florals, laces and ruffles.
Both brands here had a different take to the Spring Festival. It’s clear that while both brands catered to the festivity, especially Love, Bonito with its ethnic wear, the regional brands also prioritised evergreen styles. The homegrown brands, on the other hand, featured more prominent favourites for the festivity – though with a slightly bold category choice of co-ords.
Chinese New Year Trends: Colours
Regional SEA Brands: Red All The Way
Uptrend Colours from Love, Bonito and Pomelo Fashion. From left: Mini Flared Sleeve V Neck Dress from Pomelo Fashion, Kason Ruffle Layer Maxi Dress from Love, Bonito, Odera Off Shoulder Printed Dress from Love, Bonito, Mini Satin Classic Print Dress from Pomelo Fashion
Regional brands chose a brighter colour palette. Pinks and oranges were dominant in 2018, two traditionally Chinese New Year colours. Interestingly, 2019 saw a decrease for whites and red – an indication that they’re making space for more seasonal colours.
Local Homegrown Brands: Pretty in Pastel
Uptrend Colours from Dressabelle and Hervelvetvase. From left: Fluted Hem Cami Dress from Dressabelle, Estrella Floral Satin Midi from Hervelvetvase, Lace Contrast Fit And Flare Dress from Dressabelle, Lisbeth Crochet Tiered Dress from Hervelvetvase
There were no surprises here, as the homegrown brands went with bright colours for both years, slightly leaning towards the pastel side. Pink was a constant throughout 2018 and 2019, with an even higher uptrend percentage this year. White, on the other hand, was swapped with purple.
Traditional warm hues, like red or orange, didn’t have a strong presence in homegrown brands. Again, much like the categories, both businesses went in a different direction. The regional SEA brands favoured traditional colours with a more international appeal, while homegrown brands preferred a toned-down version – accentuating with florals, prints and laces.
From here, it’s clear that local brands are getting more adventurous in terms of categories but remain conservative in colours – so as to play it safe not to incur high markdowns post-Chinese New Year. The regional brands were bold in colours, obviously heading the same direction as the luxury brands with small Chinese New Year capsules to appeal to a wider and more discerning audience.
With Chinese New Year’s growing prominence, there may be a day where global retailers will release a full-fledged collection.
For now, at least, they will most likely continue with limited edition series to generate hype, leaving the heavy-duty work to local markets.
Of course, the local markets are probably more than happy to accommodate – to a certain extent. As analysed above, even local markets have differing opinions on trends. Although no colossal changes were made by all retailers, slight tweaks like colours, materials and even hemlines could make or break sales.
There’s an even more important question to answer: will the trends convert to sales? It’s still too early to tell, so stay tuned for our report of the festivity’s post-performance soon!