Adidas is celebrating the Chinese New Year with a special collection riffing on the Asian nation’s cultural heritage.
The Year of the Rat, as this year is known, will be ushered in on a sea of apparel, the latest being Adidas’ celebratory performance and lifestyle capsule influenced by the Tang Dynasty, which last ruled in mainland China more than 1,000 years ago.
The collection, available on Adidas’ website and in stores, takes inspiration from traditional Chinese cultural images, featuring “spiritual animals,” such as the crane, koi fish and tiger, paired with native flora like the peony, begonia and lotus flower. Adidas’ festive capsule will also include references to “the Twelve Ornaments,” auspicious designs that were traditionally embroidered on garments indicating positions of power.
“As one of the leading brands in the Chinese sports industry, Adidas has built a strong cultural connection with Chinese consumers through its high-quality products and consumer-centric communication,” Adidas said in a statement.
The capsule is defined by unique patterns created to celebrate the Chinese New Year, each incorporated into a range of apparel for the brand’s athletics, basketball, running, kids and Originals lines. The “tiger and peony pattern,” for instance, is said to empower its wearer with courage and strength and is featured on running shoes, a model of the UltraBoost 20 and other men’s apparel.
The CNY collection’s “crane and begonia pattern” was designed with women in mind and includes elements of Adidas’ three-striped logo. Children’s wear will be represented by “the lotus and koi fish pattern,” which is said to invoke imagination and good fortune.
To promote the capsule, Adidas partnered with Chinese actress Liu Yifei, star of the international live-action re-make of the Disney hit, “Mulan.” Yifei and other brands ambassadors, including NBA superstar James Harden, will be featured in a marketing campaign based on a traditional Tang-Dynasty-inspired Chinese banquet.
“This time around, Adidas has once again embedded traditional Chinese aesthetics in sports fashion, encouraging creators to celebrate Chinese New Year in a way they never thought of,” it said.
In its latest financial report, Adidas’ results showed revenue increasing by 11 percent in China across Reebok and the main brand over the previous quarter.
Adidas joins a growing list of fashion brands getting into the festive spirit around Chinese New Year. Levi’s launched a highly-exclusive collection with designer Futura Laboratories that will be sold only in China and at the Levi’s Harajuku store in Tokyo. Fellow denim brand Diesel released a skatewear collection inspired by imagery associated with the Year of the Rat and Burberry launched a Chinese New Year campaign.
Thanks to Chinese New Year arriving earlier in 2020, products marking the occasion began arriving months ago in September, according to data compiled by Edited, the fashion retail analytics firm. Currently, Chinese New Year arrivals have already outpaced 2019 by 45 percent and 2018 by 132 percent year-over-year, showing how brands are eager to prove their relevance to increasingly important Chinese consumers.
Most retailers offering items themed to Chinese New Year are investing in accessories and tops, according to Edited, which found graphic T-shirts and bags among the products “trending” in the market. Red remains a key color for Lunar New Year items, with 42 percent of products bearing the crimson hue, but greens, pinks, navies and neutrals are making inroads as retailers find “unique ways to interpret the theme in their merchandise,” Edited said.
And despite the West’s general disdain for rats heavily associated with disease and plague, some brands have found creative ways to include rodents in their Chinese New Year offerings.
“While the rat may not be the most appealing animal for merchandise,” Edited said, “retailers such as Gucci and Kate Spade have put a twist on their motifs by tapping nostalgic characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, as well as Tom and Jerry.”
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.