From Handbags To Pearls, Auspicious Number 8 Reigns Supreme In 2013

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Fendi’s “Un Arte Autre” exhibit, which opened in Beijing this fall. (Fendi/Facebook)

Zodiac-inspired luxury products are just one of many ways brands can make their goods seem more auspicious to Chinese customers. In 2013, several companies saw the number eight as prime marketing material for a range of innovative campaigns.

Numerology is a big deal in China, and the number eight is one of several numbers considered to be auspicious (jili吉利). The others are zero, six, and nine, while inauspicious (buli 不利) numbers are four, five, and six. The reasoning has to do with the fact that the spoken words for the numbers sound like certain positive or negative words. For example, the number four holds a negative connotation because in Mandarin it is pronounced si, which is also used for “death.” Meanwhile, eight is ba, which is associated with fa, connoting prosperity or wealth.

In 2013, luxury brands have latched onto the marketing opportunities associated with auspicious numerology. The most recent and extravagant example is Fendi’s new “Un Art Autre” exhibit, which opened on October 24 to celebrate the brand’s 88th anniversary. The exhibition space is a structure shaped like the number eight created especially for the event and is located n Beijing’s China Central Place. Fendi has been well aware of the importance of numerology in China for years: in October 2007, the brand hosted a spectacular fashion show along the Great Wall featuring 88 looks on 88 models, who walked along—what else?— an 88-meter runway.

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The eight-shaped space for Fendi’s “Un Arte Autre” exhibit. (Fendi/Facebook)

Previously this year, Japanese pearl jewelry company Mikimoto teamed up with British department store Harrods to sell its special-edition “Double Eight (88)” collection, featuring a strand of 88 cultured Akoya cultured pearls between 8 and 8.8 mm in size. Featuring concentric circles shaped like the number eight, the necklace is secured with an 18k white gold clasp, which also features the number eight in its design. The special item was a smart bet for Harrods, which has been making strong efforts this year to court Chinese tourists as the British government has taken steps to encourage them to visit.

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Mikimoto’s eight-shaped “Double Eight (88)” necklace features 88 8 to 8.8 mm pearls. (Mikimoto)

Eighty years younger than Fendi, Vogue China also celebrated an eight-themed anniversary this spring, and pulled out all the stops to feature eight top models on eight different covers. Sui He, Fei Fei Sun, Katie Nescher, Liu Wen, Daria Strokous, Doutzen Kroes, Xiao Wen Ju, and Sasha Pivovarova all graced the special-edition covers to commemorate the magazine’s success since its founding in 2005.

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