BEIJING, China — On Tuesday, February 5, the Chinese calendar will usher in the Year of the Pig. For the Chinese, the year in which one is born determines personality traits and luck in life. For luxury brands the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival celebration, offers a chance to deliver capsule collections aimed at those celebrating the seasonal change and a possibility of bumping revenues in the weeks following the end-of-year holiday period.
Porcine shapes and imagery are covering everything from elegant Swiss watches to cute bag charms in 2019. Vacheron Constantin allows you to, pardon the pun, bring home some serious bacon with a limited-edition platinum timepiece adorned with a festive swine, priced at $123,000. Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton offer pig-shaped key-chains or bag charms fashioned in exotic skins and treated leather at $450 and $680, respectively.
Gucci has gone whole-hog and adorned bags, T-shirts, sweaters and even socks with Disney’s version of The Three Little Pigs. A $8,200 jewel-encrusted egg pendant contains a mini-pig surprise, thanks to Fabergé. And if your taste runs to gold crystal, Baccarat offers a boar-shaped objet d’art for $390. Not to be outdone, Longchamp and Estée Lauder also have porcine offerings.
The Pig (or Boar) is the 12th and last of the Chinese zodiac animals. People born under the sign are believed to be blessed with a beautiful personality and good fortune. Hard-working and energetic, they are realistic and enjoy life. They love to be entertained and, while not profligate, will occasionally treat themselves.
Luxury brands are all for consumers treating each other and themselves. The Year of the Dog celebration in 2018 resulted in China’s retail and catering sectors posting a record $146 billion worth of sales, a year-on-year increase of 10.2 percent.
The 2019 celebratory period also looks advantageous for retailers, despite concerns over a possible slowdown in the luxury sector. LVMH quarterly earnings showed continuing demand for handbags and Hennessy Cognac in China, the world’s second-largest economy. The French conglomerate reported fourth-quarter sales that beat expectations, with the fashion and leather-goods division delivering a sales gain of 17 percent.
If you want to get in the spirit, take into account that gifting for the New Year comes with cultural guidelines. Tradition dictates that the following items should not be given as gifts: sharp objects (cuts off the relationship,) anything with the number four (associated with death,) shoes (mean evil in Mandarin and sighing in Cantonese,) handkerchiefs (farewell,) umbrellas (bad luck, sound like "breakup" in Mandarin,) clocks (associated with death,) and mirrors (attract ghosts,) according to travel company China Highlights.
Do give items in shades of red, yellow or gold (colours that symbolise wealth and prosperity,) or at least wrap them in those shades. Avoid white (associated with funerals) and black or blue (synonymous with death.) If money is being given, avoid the number four as it sounds similar to the word for death, but do make sure it’s an even number, say 20, 500, or 1000 — or better yet 80 or 800, as the number eight is the luckiest number in China. Money should always be given in a red envelope.
When presenting a gift, use two hands and always start with the eldest or most senior person. Gifts should not be opened immediately. After thanking the giver, the gift should be put aside to be opened at a later, more private time.
By Colin Bertram; editor: Justin Ocean.