In recent decades, a new pattern has emerged in the luxury retail world: In late December, many of the world's most valuable brands will unveil exclusive lines of merchandise covered in Chinese cultural symbols, one of a dozen animal zodiac signs, the color red or all of the above.
Marketing for this Lunar New Year, which falls on Friday, is no different.
Nike, for instance, remixed its high-top sneakers with graphics of popping firecrackers and artisanal Chinese knots. Apple offered limited-edition AirPods Pros with ox emojis stamped on the cases. The Swiss boutique Vacheron Constantin, meanwhile, dropped $130,000 watches with high-relief engravings of the animal.
Compared to those from past holiday seasons, the Year of the Ox capsule collections haven't drawn as much mockery or as many boycotts from Asian consumers. But the commercialization of Lunar New Year still raises long-standing questions within the Asian diaspora about the co-opting and whitewashing of ethnic traditions — and whether mainstream recognition can bring about meaningful social change.
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