Sharmila Agarwal, 37, a Delhi-based corporate lawyer is excited about her latest purchase—a Gucci sling bag. Gucci’s bags, which are premier luxury products, costing over lakhs of rupees, is something to be excited about, but this one particular bag is extra special—at least for her. It has a picture of Japanese manga and anime character Doraemon embossed on it, her five-year-old-son’s favourite TV character. “Everything in Anush’s life is about Doraemon, he was so excited about this bag. And I thought it was different. Even when he is all grown-up I will see the bag and remember his childhood,” says Agarwal who likes luxury bags and has another Gucci with the iconic GG motif, besides a Burberry and a Fendi in her wardrobe.
While Agarwal and others like her may be excited about Gucci’s latest collection called Doraemon x Gucci, it is actually the Chinese consumers that Gucci is targeting.
To tap into the gifting tradition of China’s Lunar New Year, which lands on February 12th this year, Gucci’s creative Director Alessandro Michele has imagined a dedicated collection of special items that feature Doraemon. The Italian powerhouse is combining the celebrations for the Year of the Ox with the 50th anniversary of Doraemon, the Japanese cat-shaped robot, which comes to Earth to help young boy Nobita Nobi navigate his daily adventures.
In beginning January, Gucci launched a dedicated collection for men and women adorned with the blue character overlaid on the signature GG motif. The special collection comprises everything from knitwear to bags, tracksuits, sneakers, hats, luggage, watches, and silk scarves.
Doraemon is also playfully disguised as an ox, in tribute to the Year of the Ox. Here, blue is replaced by golden tones and two little horns have been drawn on Doraemon’s head as part of the makeover.
For the collection, Gucci has partnered with the media franchise, which is written and illustrated by Fujiko Fujio, the pen name of duo Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko.
The collection has its own sustainable packaging, which comprises fully recyclable green bags and matching tags referencing the 50th anniversary (2020) of the cartoon, all featuring Doraemon.
Incidentally, the collection also marks Gucci’s centenary year, which is 2021.
For the collection, a new campaign has been shot by photographer Angelo Pennetta. Doraemon is shown turning everyday activities such as having breakfast and playing video games into joyful adventures.
Like all other fashion houses, big and small, China is an extremely important market for Gucci. In fact, as per a new report by Bain & Co, China is set to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025. In 2020, as global luxury spending fell dramatically, China’s domestic market grew exponentially as wealthy residents stayed close to home due to the pandemic but splurged on jewellery, leather goods and fine wine.
Mainland China’s luxury market soared 45% to reach 44 billion euros ($52 billion), according to Bain’s 2020 Fall Luxury report.
The report pointed out that sales of personal luxury goods—which includes clothes, jewellery, watches, beauty products, and accessories—globally contracted for the first time since 2009. Bain estimates that in 2020 sales fell 23%, at current exchange rates, to hit 217 billion euros ($257 billion)—the largest annual drop ever recorded by Bain.
Keeping the Chinese customers in mind, Gucci launches a special collection every year, to honour the Chinese New Year. Last year was the Year of the Rat, and Gucci launched a new Gucci x Disney collection with Mickey Mouse. Everything from handbags to ready-to-wear had Mickey Mouse prints all over. In 2019, to mark the Year of the Pig, Gucci launched a special capsule collection with Walt Disney cartoon characters that first appeared in the animated United Artists short film “Three Little Pigs” in 1933.