Wong Kwok Kei (Sandra)
Cultural Translation: An Analysis of Chinese Tropes in Emerging Luxury Chinese Lifestyle-Fashion Brands
This research investigates the ways in which emerging luxury Chinese lifestyle-fashion brands make use of Chinese tropes, symbols and metaphors in brand communications. It also conducts enquiries into the ramifications of this practice within the context of the cultural, social, political and economic changes in China from 1994 to 2014. With the considerable impact of Orientalism in the 1990s, Chinese tropes were being widely deployed in global luxury fashion brand collections. Edward Said (1994) has termed such an ideological ‘East’ as ‘Orientalism’ and claims that the Orient is ‘an integral part of European material civilization and culture’ (Said, 1994, p. 2). In the late twentieth century, following the success of ‘China style’ effects, the use of Chinese tropes has been a dominant trend in emerging Chinese luxury branding practices particularly in the global luxury market. The use of Chinese tropes, as national representation, has generated vigorous debate about the effectiveness of cultural translation. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of Chinese trope design continues to make a visual mark on emerging Chinese brand communications in the twenty-first century.
This study examines evolving Chinese tropes and their effectiveness in cultural expression and identity interpretation in luxury branding activities within the material culture in China. The methodological approach includes an analysis of visual taxonomies of Chinese tropes and multiple case studies of emerging luxury Chinese lifestyle-fashion brands. The thesis aims to address the perceived limitations of the use of Chinese tropes, as well as to define the term Country of Origin in global branding practices. It aims, in addition, to explore how Chinese identities are redefined in notion of brand semiotics through signs in a material culture in order to inform the changing lifestyle of China.