Superstition is a part of Chinese culture.
From coming up with auspicious names that can enhance a brand’s popularity and fortune to figuring out the optimal time and location for major product launches, store openings, or fashion shows, Fengshui, also known as Chinese geomancy and a pseudoscientific traditional practice, continues to play a huge role in the business world in China.
According to several fashion brands and agencies, it’s standard practice in China to host a praying ceremony ahead of major events and offer fruits, roasted pig, and chicken, as well as liquor and five kinds of grains to deities.
After burning candles and incense, the head of the brand or agency will drink a shot of liquor, and pour another one on the ground for the gods’ blessing. Then the team will chop up the roasted pig. If it’s for a store opening, the ceremony is often accompanied by Chinese traditional dragon and lion dancing, and firecrackers to boost morale and entertain the guests.
The head of a major production agency in Shanghai, who requested anonymity, said the rituals can ensure, at least mentally, the smooth running of the event, and more importantly, no crazy weather during its. Sometimes if the clients don’t ask for it, the agency will host the praying ceremony on its own for blessing.
Based on what the brands are praying for, the person said their Fengshui master will tell them to prepare different kinds of fruits and meats, and pick the best time during the day and location to optimize the outcome.
A fashion curator, who worked on an Italian luxury brand’s exhibition in China not long ago, told WWD that a part of his job, on top of curating the whole event, was to communicate with the Chinese team’s Fengshui master and help him source materials for the praying ceremony.
It included eight yellow croakers, eight kiwi fruits, eight Chinese steamed buns, eight pieces of meats, 16 knotted tofu skins, a whole chicken, a plate of candies, a plate of longans, dates, and peanuts, as well as six white lilies, a giant steel pot for burning ghost money, and a mat for kowtowing.
The ceremony usually costs from around 10,000 to 50,000 renminbi or, $1,543 to $7,717, depending on the level of the Fengshui master.
A fashion p.r. said one of his clients, whose founder is a Buddhist, hired a team of monks from the temple he usually visits to chant scriptures and knock on the wooden bells ahead of the fashion show.
Besides giving blessings on store openings and event launches, brands and agencies also consult with Fengshui masters on picking the right Chinese names for international brands that wish to enter the market.
A communication director at a global p.r. firm said they most recently involved a Fengshui master to check the auspiciousness of Chinese names they are proposing for a handful of niche beauty brands under a leading beauty group.
In some extremes cases, during the recruitment process, the p.r. would decide who will be a better fit for the team by comparing the date of birth and eight characters of the candidate’s horoscope with that of the team leader, as some believe that a mismatch of characters can cause problems.