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Stories behind the Chinese names of international fashion brands

chinese names, international fashion brands

Occasionally you have trouble pronouncing foreign names of international luxury brands. Many of these brands also get confused when it comes to choosing their Chinese names. Although quite a few foreign brands use Chinese names that make no sense, ending up with customers' completely unawareness of the company's product or service, yet a brilliant and impressive Chinese name will surely enhance the profile of the brand.



Picking a good name means a successful start for your business. For instance, the original literal translation for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is "巴依尔(bā yī ěr)", similar to the pronunciation of "Bayerische", and now its Chinese name is "宝马 (bǎo mǎ – precious horse").



Another example is "雅诗兰黛" (yǎ shī lán dài) for Estee Lauder, which refers to the image of women in Chinese traditional culture – comparing flowers to women. In Chinese, "兰" (lán) means orchid, which is a symbol of perfection and elegance in Chinese culture. Some brands prefer to use Chinese words for flowers and plants, like "兰蔻 (lán kòu)" (Lancome) and "娇兰 (jiāo lán)" (Guerlain).

又比如雅诗兰黛(Estee Lauder)在挑选每个用字时都参考了中国文化中的女性美意象——以花喻美人。偏好采用花卉植物用字的还有"兰蔻"、"娇兰"。


Picking a more cultural meaning, Revlon, American cosmetics brand, uses "露华浓 (lù huá nóng)" as its Chinese name, quoting from the sentence "云想衣裳花想容,春风拂槛露华浓 (yún xiǎng yī shang huā xiǎng róng, chūn fēng fú kǎn lù huá nóng)" (translated as "Her dress is like a cloud, her face a flower. The spring breeze reveals a peony after shower.") in Lady Yang (清平调) written by Chinese poet Li Bai.



An excellent Chinese name of a foreign brand can be widely spread in the market and gain popularity with the consumers, and even dwarf its original name.



The original name for "万国表 (wàn guó biǎo)" is IWC (International Watch Company), which  was an excellent choice in choosing a Chinese name. "万国表" can be roughly translated as "watches from thousands of countries" in Chinese. "积家(jī jiā)", whose original name is "Jaeger-LeCoultre", resembling the title of "collector's choice", which is rather easy to remember in Chinese without losing an artistic dimension of the phrase.


 "万国表"的原名叫做IWC,即 International Watch Company,也算是业内翻译出彩的例子;积家的品牌原名为"Jaeger-LeCoultre",中文译名与"收藏家之选"相呼应,容易记忆又不失格调。


Christian Louboutin, commonly known as "红底鞋 (hóng dǐ xié)" in the market, has no Chinese name, while fashion brands like ZARA and H&M have shorter name and are easier to remember, have no marketing trouble. Although Jean Paul Gaultier does not have an official Chinese name, the surname of its designer "高缇耶 (gāo tí yē)" is widely known and accepted by the Chinese market.

市场中被普遍称为"红底鞋"的 Christian Louboutin 就没有中文译名,而时尚品牌 ZARA、H&M胜在音节少、好记,故在传播上并没有产生问题,而 Jean Paul Gaultier 虽然没有正式命名,但设计师的姓氏"高缇耶"也已被市场所广泛接受。


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