Strides For Spring

Even before the last tinsel and bauble are taken down, Chinese New Year is on Nike’s mind


Nike CNY.jpg

We already know Asia is important to many Western brands, but the importance of Chinese New Year, during which, in China alone, close to 1.4 billion people celebrate what is commonly referred to as Spring Festival, isn’t as closely aligned to their merchandising plans until in recent years. CNY is as crucial to the bottom line as, Christmas is. That Nike has put together a thematic drop of no less than seven styles specifically for the occasion is, doubtlessly, a sign of how massive CNY shopping has been and continues to be.

This is Nike’s 12th consecutive year putting out kicks that salute the cultural might and commercial potential that is CNY. That means all 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac have been honored. The Swoosh is, in fact, one of of the earliest brands to recognise the importance of CNY to an entire continent and has responded accordingly—and successfully—before competitors such as Adidas and luxury brands,—first Prada, then Gucci, among others—joined the fray.

While it is true that many people no longer consider dressing well for CNY necessary or important, it is also not incorrect that those who still bother have adopted a more casual approach to festive dressing. Sneakers are visibly now the shoes most wear to visit relatives during the festive holidays, or that you’ll see gathering at doorsteps.

Nike’s CNY offering includes the Jordan and Converse brands, and sports not Chinese characters, but a motif that the American label thinks is what Chinese customers may find appealing, or modern. This is primarily in the form of the Chinese patchwork style known as bai jia yi (百家衣, or hundred-family robe), a quilting technique that is very much a part of China’s folk tradition.

There is, of course, nothing folksy about Nike’s bai jia yi. They are rather pop in their treatment, a mash-up that a generation pre-conditioned by multifarious media will appreciate. In fact, we think it might be something Pharrell Williams would have produced if he were similarly inspired—a touch of exotica that is rather Japonais!

Nike’s announcement of the CNY shoes are consistent with the current preference for starting the sale of CNY merchandise before the 1st of January. The upcoming year of the Pig is the last animal in the Chinese zodiac, perhaps that’s why brands such as Nike aim for a head start.

Nike’s CNY editions are expected to be out throughout January 2019. Watch this space for more info on the launch dates. Photo: Nike