Western Luxury Brands Celebrate Chinese New Year, Year of the Snake


Sophie Doran | February 11, 2013

As the Chinese Zodiac moves into the Year of the Water Snake, we take a look at the commemorative products launched by Western luxury brands

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is fast becoming one of the most important sales periods for luxury brands. During the 15 day celebration, millions of vacationing Chinese head to the Europe and the United States, where they spend thousands on luxury hotels, leather goods, timepiece and fine jewellery. Capitalising on the tax-free advantages of travel retail and the extended range of products available.

According to tax-refund service Global Blue, Chinese shoppers spend an average €11,000 on trips to Europe, Singapore and Hong Kong. Chinese shoppers last year became the largest group of luxury consumers in the world, overtaking Americans and Japanese for the first time in 2012, according to Bain (WSJ).

2012’s Year of the Dragon was the first time we saw a truly significant amount of luxury brands, across categories, developing specific products for the Chinese market, drawing heavily on local mythology and design clues. Even more brands have joined the fray in 2013, looking to capitalise on the snake’s symbolism of good fortune, as an ancient symbol of power and temptation.

“Lunar New Year has become part of the annual cycle for brands,” explained Torsten Stocker, who tracks retail trends in China as a partner at the consulting firm Monitor Group, to WSJ. “It’s a bit debatable about how much of this is actually Chinese and how much of it is Western thinking of ’Let’s put a red dragon on it, and the Chinese will love it.’ But there’s certainly a market for it.”

“ It’s a bit debatable about how much of this is actually Chinese and how much of it is Western thinking, but there’s certainly a market for it ”

Alfred Dunhill

Alfred Dunhill is offering a capsule collection of subtly designed objet d’arts that allude to the serpent, cleverly coaxing the snake’s sinuous silhouette to resemble the figure eight, known in Chinese culture for its associations with good fortune and wealth. Cufflinks are available in plated rose gold or brass palladium, embossed with the House crest and a masculine diamond-grid motif.

Source: Luxury Insider


“The snake has always been part of our identity, so we’re fortunate,” revealed Francesco Trapani, president of watches and jewellery at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to WSJ. And what better to celebrate its flagship Serpenti collection than the Year of the Snake? Alongside its fine jewellery collection, the brand covered its Tokyo and New York boutiques with giant illuminated serpents.

Source: CPP Luxury


Designed to celebrate the year of the snake, Dartz will offer a new Black Snake in China, based on the Mercedes GL63 AMG. Gold accents and a diamond-encrusted hood ornament adorn the exterior, whilst the cabin is gratefully appointed with wood trim, sharkskin floor mats and a Bang & Olsen audio system. Snake, crocodile, ostrich and whale skins are also on offer for interiors, at a cost of $1,000,000 per vehicle.

Source: SpeedLux


Davidoff has launched 2013 "Year of the Snake” Edition cigars with exclusive limited-edition accessories. It is limited to 4,500 pieces worldwide, housed in an octagonal, red lacquered wooden box containing eight cigars. The Churchill format makes for a long smoking experience punctuated with the delicacy and refinement of a cigar with charisma.

Source: Cigar Inspector


Gucci is promoting the Lunar New Year with a collection of personalised luggage tags, imprinted with one of two auspicious golden characters – meaning double happiness or luck – and crafted in blue or red leather. Far less overt than other recent China-facing collections, some commenters have remarked that the tags lack pizzazz, one wrote that they “highlight the power of the China market.”

Source: Jing Daily


Harrods in London is selling its own snake-emblazoned gold bullion bars, weighing from 5 to 100 grams that sell at $320 to $5,700. The iconic British department store first offered customised gold bars in 2012, featuring Dragon motifs to celebrate the Year of the Dragon (pictured), which were met with “strong demand,” according to a Harrods spokesman.

Source: WSJ

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker has unveiled a set of 12 Blue Label bottles, each decorated with a different zodiac animal etched with gold onto the glass. It has produced only 88 sets – in keeping with the idea of 8 as an auspicious number – each priced at $4,800 and only available at its members-only Shanghai clubhouse, Johnnie Walker Mansion.

Source: WSJ

Louis Vuitton

Though lacking a dedicated ‘Year of the Snake’ collection, Louis Vuitton is offering a service for shoppers to monogram their luggage or baggage with a snake imprint. The brand has also hired calligraphers in selected stores in China to ink fortuitous wishes for consumers to take home, along with custom commemorative paintings.

Source: WSJ

Mandarin Oriental

The five-star Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, brought in the Year of the Water Snake with a selection of festive offerings from February 8 – 11, 2013. Guests could enjoy a typical Chinese New Year feast at MOzen, or sample handmade Fortune Cookies at its tea lounge with an authentic Gong Fu Cha, a very traditional Chinese tea service.

Source: Luxury Travel Magazine


German luxury automaker, Mercedes-Benz, launched a 2013 New Year Edition of its smart cars marked with a snake-shaped logo, designed by a Chinese jewellery designer Wan Baobao. The New Year Edition consists of only 666 smart cars costing 128,888 Yuan each.

Source: CRI English

Peninsula Hotels

In celebration of Chinese New Year, each of the Peninsula Hotels will be fully decked out in red and stocked with red lanterns, red flowers and pink-blossomed plum trees (representing good luck), kumquat bushes (symbolizing prosperity), while guestrooms come stocked with auspicious items like tangerines, melon seeds, dumplings, red packets and chocolate coins.

Source: Jing Daily


Piaget launched its Altiplano Chinese Zodiac Snake Watch, a $68,000 model with a cloisonné snake and a dial with 78 diamonds, limited to just 38 pieces. The watch is mounted on a black alligator leather strap with 18-karats white gold pin buckle. The 18 jewels movement is decorated with Côtes de Genève, a circular-grained mainplate and bridges, bevelled bridges and traditional blued screws.


Tiffany & Co

Tiffany & Co has debuted a sleek and elegant necklace in the shape of a snake recalling the renowned jewellery designs of Elsa Peretti. Peretti captured the snake’s elegant movements through a series of graduated links handcrafted in 18 karat gold. Showcasing smooth and sensual lines, the necklace is easily synonymous with the body’s contours.


Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin has debuted its China-facing “Métiers d‘Art – The Legend of the Zodiac 2013” collection, limited to just 12 pieces for each model. The leaf motif appearing on the dial and stemming from classic Chinese iconography, is etched directly in the metal. The snake is delicately applied to the centre of the dial, poised as if ready to spring through the sapphire crystal.

Source: Jing Daily

To further investigate the Chinese market on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- Why Men Are So Important to China’s Luxury Market
- China’s Luxury Watch Market Not Nearly As Grim As It May Seem
- Bringing Fine Wines to the Chinese Market: Sarment

China | Jewellery