Neo-Chinese fashion spread more widely by confident young people
A family dressed in Chinese-style clothing Photo: VCG
In the streets of Chinese cities, we see more and more young people wearing clothes with “neo-Chinese elements”. This style of combining modern and traditional clothing like qipao or hanfu has become a new favorite for younger generations, who trust traditional Chinese culture more than ever.
Data shows that in the second half of 2021, posts about “new Chinese clothing” posted on Chinese lifestyle-focused social media platform Xiaohongshu increased significantly compared to the first half of 2021.
A report on recent fashion trends published by Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao noted that neo-Chinese fashion has mainly proven popular among 18-34 year olds, while women aged 24-34 represent 40% of the consumer group. .
“In 2013, when I first embarked on the work of preserving traditional decorative patterns, those who supported and encouraged me were mostly middle-aged people over 40. However, the most of our followers are now in their twenties,” Huang Qingsui, an ethnic Zhuang art designer, told the Global Times. The trend shows that young people in China are more confident and have a stronger sense of identity regarding the country’s traditional culture, Huang added.
This trend is not limited to clothing, but also extends to items like home decor, fashion accessories, and even hobbies like attending tea ceremonies and practicing calligraphy.
What exactly is the neo-Chinese style?
At present, a relatively basic definition is that it is a new interpretation of traditional Chinese culture in the modern era or a contemporary design based on traditional culture.
The neo-Chinese style has spread to many fields, including neo-Chinese tea, neo-Chinese pastry and neo-Chinese interior decoration.
Neo-Chinese clothing is one of the most popular areas among younger generations, who prefer clothing that incorporates traditional Chinese elements into daily wear. This inspired Chinese designers to use more traditional embellishments such as Chinese frog button buttons and buckles and wrap fronts when designing everyday garments.
Compared to traditional hanfu or Tang jackets, Chinese Revival dresses trade a sense of ceremony and solemnity for a more simple and practical feel.
Designer Zhang Yan, who debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2019, focuses on finding inspirations in traditional Chinese culture such as Taoist philosophy. Zhang told the Global Times that embroidery helped her slow down the pace of her life and stabilize her mental state. He now tries to convey this quiet attitude to others through his clothes.
Lin Taile, a fashion lover, told the Global Times that her passion for neo-Chinese fashion was ignited six years ago when she took a Chinese embroidery jacket her aunt had thrown away and matched with a pair of jeans and sneakers.
Lin noted that when she was wearing her “neo-Chinese look” on the Paris metro, a local street photographer approached her and said, “You effortlessly show off your culture in a stylish way.”
Openness to diversity
According to a McKinsey report on the trends that will shape the growth of Chinese consumption over the next decade, changing consumer attitudes are driving the growth of local brands. Baidu’s research data shows that between 2009 and 2019, consumer attention to Chinese brands increased from 38% to 70%, with millennials becoming the top buyers of domestic products.
“The modern yet traditional aesthetic of neo-Chinese fashion intrigues young consumers because it represents ‘who they are’ through clothing. It’s a ‘way to get a message across’, speaking of their openness to cultural diversity and even a challenge to stereotypes,” Fang Qiongyi, a cultural sociologist in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday.
Transitioning from watercolor to fashion designer, Guan Yishu uses artistic elements such as landscape painting and abstract ink painting to make her clothing designs stand out.
She designed a casual silk organza suit adorned with Chinese buttons and abstract water-ink patterns to show “the professional yet life-loving qualities of career women.”
“Neo-Chinese style projects people’s life desires. A client once told me that she needed a Chinese dress to make her modern, elegant, trustworthy for an important business pitch. I made her a popular little black dress in French culture with an understated style. Chinese silk jacquard. She said she felt empowered by it.”
“The neo-Chinese style also values inspiration from foreign cultures or new movements close to people,” Guan noted.
Qian Xiaoping, an 83-year-old national-level Song brocade heiress, told the Global Times that designing everyday silk garments and accessories gives her great enthusiasm as it represents an opportunity to bring traditional Chinese creations to the youngest.