From Gucci to LV, luxury brands give the pig a CNY makeover

High-end retailers offer Year of the Pig-themed items in conjunction with the annual lunar holiday

By Colin Bertram / BLOOMBERG

On Feb 5, the Chinese calendar ushered in the Year of the Pig. For Chinese, the year in which one is born determines personality traits and luck in life.

Estée Lauder’s Year of the Pig Powder Compact comes adorned with pink crystals, for US$200

For luxury brands, the Chinese New Year (CNY) 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.

Longchamp x Mr Bags Year of the Pig purses

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 US$123,000 (RM500,610).

Bottega Veneta crocodile and nappa leather key ring (left); LV pig bag charm and key holder

Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton (LV) offer pig-shaped key-chains or bag charms fashioned in exotic skins and treated leather at US$490 and US$480 respectively.

Johnnie Walker hopes you’ll toast the New Year with a US$250 special edition bottle of Blue Label blended Scotch Whisky featuring a festive pig illustration in shades of white, gold and blue.

Gucci has gone whole-hog and adorned bags, T-shirts, sweaters and even socks with Disney’s version of “The Three Little Pigs”.

A US$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 US$390. Not to be outdone, Longchamp and Estée Lauder also have porcine offerings. 

Gucci’s oversize sweatshirt with piglet retails for about US$2,000

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.

The Fabergé Palais Tsarskoye Selo red locket comes with a golden pig surprise

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 US$146 billion worth of sales, a year-on-year increase of 10.2%.

The 2019 celebratory period also looks advantageous for retailers, despite concerns over a possible slowdown in the luxury sector.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE quarterly earnings showed continuing demand for handbags and Hennessy Cognac in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Festive piggy packaging adorns special edition bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label

The French conglomerate reported fourth quarter sales that beat expectations, with the fashion and leather goods division delivering a sales gain of 17%.

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. 

Baccarat’s Zodiaque collection features gold and clear wild boar crystal figurines for US$390 and US$280 respectively

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 1,000 — 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. — Bloomberg

Vacheron Constantin’s Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Pig watch, in platinum

LV Superstition Squares, aka silk scarves, feature zodiac pig imagery and cost US$370 each