Li-Ning, one of China’s leading sportswear brands who is also the architect of the Guochao (or national wave), has refashioned its classic lifestyle sneakers ‘001 Unblock’ into a “Zong Zi”- themed edition, replicating features of the national food Zong Zi (rice dumplings) that is commonly served during the Dragon Boat Festival, in honour of the special occasion on 3 June. This has levelled up the common practice of blending contemporary designs with a nostalgic edge which has been at the core of the Guochao phenomenon.
While the pure ivory replaces the original mixed colours covering the shoe body, recreating the rice filling, traditional woven handicraft has been incorporated into the shoelace which represents the string that is normally used to tie the sticky rice together. The product is also enveloped in a bamboo-like wrapping paper with a wooden shoe box enhancing the Chinese aesthetics, while also giving the sense of unwrapping a “Zong Zi” as customers unpack the shoes, therefore, allowing the brand not only to leverage the traditional occasion but also enriching consumer experience.
Texts indicating different filling flavours coupled with patterns illustrating the Zong Zi culture in various regions have been imprinted on the shoe tongue, adding to buyers’ surprise. The practice also taps into the concept of the blind box marketing, which allows the special offer to be not only functional but also playful, appealing to young consumers as a result.
Moreover, the brand has engaged several local designer illustrators to recreate the special edition, including Darren Zhou, an emerging Chinese artist who has been dubbed the “Ambassador of New Chinese Style”. With the input of these emerging artists whose work has created a buzz amongst young Chinese, the collaboration has injected the traditional festival with more youthful interpretations, catering to the pursuit of individuality amongst the young demographic while adding to the product’s appeal at the same time.