“Chinese” New Year: when brand interest turns into a misstep

In Toronto, all you need to do is head downtown to see the red and gold decorations blooming in the windows of many stores like Hudson’s Bay for the Lunar New Year. Other companies such as Herschel or Holt Renfrew have created product collections especially for this occasion.

If you had asked me this question seven or eight years ago, I would have been very happy because the Asian community does not have such a positive representation.Meet Madelyn Chung, founder of the Represent Asian Project.

Madelyn Chung campaigns for fairer representation of Asian communities in the media and public space with her Represent Asia project.

Photo: Madelyn Chung

For him, the frenzy of recent years is getting further and further away from the values ​​of the party.

We see big brands capitalizing on a holiday that is so important to many Asian communities. We see it on Pride Day, Earth Day: the rainbow wash and green washing. I don’t think it’s much differenthe believes.

A clothing store window with a rabbit illustration in the background and happy Lunar New Year wishes on the window display.

Madelyn Chung laments seeing brands put rabbit symbols (for the Year of the Rabbit) everywhere, even on products that have nothing to do with the Lunar New Year.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Julien Sahuquillo

Lunar New Year, sometimes called Chinese New Year because of its significance in China, is actually celebrated by many other communities: Korea, Malaysia and even Vietnam.

Madelyn Chung notes that luxury brands have been the first to enter this market for Lunar New Year products, with offerings particularly aimed at the well-heeled Chinese diaspora.

It used to be more luxury brands, but now everyone is getting into it. »

quote from Madelyn Chung, founder of the Represent Asian Project

Madelyn Chung believes that almost all major brands today are entering into this holiday without necessarily understanding it.

Playboy avec [une version spéciale du] lapin parce que c’est l’année du lapin. Une autre fois chez Shoppers, il avait des brosses kabuki en rouge et or, alors que c’est japonais et que les Japonais ne fêtent pas le Nouvel An lunaire”,”text”:”L’autre jour j’ai vu un t-shirt Playboy avec [une version spéciale du] lapin parce que c’est l’année du lapin. Une autre fois chez Shoppers, il avait des brosses kabuki en rouge et or, alors que c’est japonais et que les Japonais ne fêtent pas le Nouvel An lunaire”}}”>I saw a shirt the other day Playboy with [une version spéciale du] bunny because it’s the year of the bunny. Another time Buyersthere were kabuki brushes in red and gold, although this is Japanese and Japanese people do not celebrate the Lunar New Year.he is angry.

Try to understand the meaning of this holiday

Madelyn Chung doesn’t put everyone in the same basket and acknowledges that some brands are making a commendable effort.

We’re seeing more and more brands doing at least minimal work using Asian collaborators and Asian artists. With Blue Label, Johnny Walker enlisted artist Angel Chen to create a custom label. Ariztia teamed up with four Chinese-born artists to create four sweatershe cites an example.

Zila Li, also known as Eirlysie, is the only Chinese-Canadian artist invited by Aritzia. The artist, who came to Canada with his parents at the age of 4, is now 20 years old and is happy to see his culture more represented.

Zila Lee works on a digital drawing board.

Artist Eirlysie is thrilled to be able to do this first collaboration with a major brand during a party that is dear to her.

Photo: Courtesy: Zila Lee

I grew up in Canada and no one talked about Lunar New Year except my family and our Chinese friends. Aritzia took the time to ask us a few questions to find out what the Lunar New Year means to us and [nos réponses] on the websitehe says.

Zila Lee, who is still surprised that she was chosen, thinks that the brand noticed her because of her posts on TikTok. He is pleased to have carte blanche to create his design.

hanfu [vêtements traditionnels de la dynastie Han, NDLR]”,”text”:”Je voulais montrer aux gens des vêtements chinois traditionnels comme les hanfu [vêtements traditionnels de la dynastie Han, NDLR]”}}”>I wanted to show people traditional Chinese clothes hanfu [vêtements traditionnels de la dynastie Han, NDLR]he explains.

I am honored that people can wear my work. »

quote from Zila Lee, freelance artist

For his part, Hudson Bay was unable to give us an interview, but in a message he noted his choice to advance the Lunar New Year.

Throughout the year, we celebrate and support diverse communities that reflect our customers and partners. This includes celebrating these events as well as representing the brands we invest in and the products we sell.the message says.

Return to party values ​​and share

Madelyn Chung believes that celebrating the Lunar New Year should go beyond pasting bamboo patterns, red and gold and the zodiac sign of the year onto products.

The Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the 15-day Spring Festival. It is an important moment for the communities that celebrate them as we come together as a family. »

quote from Madelyn Chung, founder of the Represent Asian Project

He wanted it to be a moment of exchange and sharing of differences traditions and superstitions.

For example, you should clean your house before New Year’s Day to get rid of all the bad luck from the previous year. But on New Year’s Day, do not clean the house at the risk of bringing the luck that resides there.he cites an example.

She adds that one of the traditions is buying new clothes to symbolize renewal.

The Lunar New Year is also an important tourism time for Toronto, says Destination Toronto’s communications manager.

Before the pandemic, China was our number one market for visitshe says.

Although the Chinese are able to travel again, he says he has yet to see a recovery. However, he believes that with Toronto’s many Chinatowns and large Asian community, the local market for this holiday is very present.

There is a certain authenticity to Toronto and many businesses want to participate in the Lunar New Year. There may be a little more awareness around the Lunar New Year, but we’ve always seen a high level of activityhe concludes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *