О насVOSTOK Magazine - это первое независимое медиа об обществе, культуре, истории и политике стран Ближнего и Дальнего Востока. Мы пишем обо всем, что кажется нам важным и интересным.
From soft silk and tiny shoes to bright and formless overalls and giant boots with laces.
You can forever gaze at the dresses of Ancient China that are full of beauty and grace. Modern European modelers still get their inspiration from the images of beautiful women in unusual clothes. It's interesting how those dresses are not what Chinese fashion queens wear today. Instead of soft silk and tiny shoes that used to make their owners really uncomfortable we have bright and formless overalls and giant boots with laces. Let's try to understand when and why visual norms have changed so drastically and what to wait from this ambiguous phenomenon called "Chinese fashion"?
So what happened to the charm of beautiful clothes with mysterious patterns?
The most radical changes in Chinese fashion tendencies are a consequence of changes in Chinese political life. The so-called unification of style happened after the Communist Party of China came to power, as their most important rule was everyone's equality. At those times the so-called "Mao French" (a combination of a European jacket with different parts of a Chinese national male suit) became popular. Sun Yixian, the designer of this piece of clothing, was one of the inspirers of Xinhai Revolution in 1911 (it led to the fall of Qing monarchy and the announcement of the Chinese Republic). The monotone of colors and models of "Mao French" gave a start to a long stagnation of Chinese fashion industry.
The stagnation ended only in 1990s. That was triggered by the hidden desire of Chinese people to point out their individuality. This is why Chinese fashionable women are somewhat like rebellious daughters who after getting rid of their strict mothers' attention try on every possible kind of a dress, a shirt or a scarf. They are not ashamed of keeping completely incompatible clothes in their wardrobe.
Such childishness of Chinese girls really hits you. Childishness came to Chinese fashion from Japan and South Korea, as modelers there usually stress out girls' infantilism.
This photo shows Japanese girls whose style is often mimicked by Chinese youngsters
It's worth noting that Western modelers have recently started to pay much attention to young and extravagant Chinese fashion industry.
It's time to wear something nice!
Fashion in modern China
During the last two decades Chinese fashion industry has experienced tremendous changes which continue to happen nowadays adding new special features to Chinese fashion.
For example, some world-famous international fashion exhibitions began to be held in China (for example, China Fashion Week 2013, MODE Shanghai 2013 и 2013 BIFT Fashion Week that took place last March in Shanghai and also Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2014 in July).
Photo from Shanghai fashion week 2013
A bit of statistics
Taking experts' point of view into account, China will gain "the biggest market of fashionable novelties" status in the following 5 years. According to the predictions of McKinsey & Co agency, next year Chinese market of expensive clothes and accessories will reach 27 billion dollars (even though it reached 10 billion only in 2009). Believe it or not, the digits say it.
Reasons and stimuli
China strives for maintaining its image on the international level. That's partially why we witness the creation of a great number of companies the main goal of which is adaptation of world fashion development trends to Chinese traditions.
The incomes of Chinese citizens grow steadily and that provides the improvement of Chinese products' quality. The phrase "made in China" usually used as a representation of a bad quality now is losing bad connotations.
The government which once was a reason for a stagnation of Chinese fashion industry now actively helps it to resurrect. It is not only about financial help (benefits for light industry and corresponding businesses), but also about promotion of an image of a modern successful Chinese person.
Chinese politicians using the services of famous fashion experts, stylish celebrities smiling from the covers of popular magazines and rapid economic growth – those are just a few factors that practically shout out: "It's time to wear something nice!"
How does it work?
Taobao's function in modern fashion industry
In the era of digital technologies Chinese website Taobao.com became a helping hand for fashion amateurs and professionals. It is a consumer-oriented online store. Taobao lets lots of young modelers become popular. Taobao lets fashion newbies fulfill their design ambitions. And those newbies are the people who resurrect the fashion industry in China.
Well, let's look at them.
Online stores' owners who are as a rule newbies in the fashion world promote their own brands working as models, designers and even sellers at the same time.
A small boutique with a really unusual and scary name "FANCY SH!T" is really popular at Taobao. It realizes the idea of a "simple modern town chic with exquisite details" which is similar to the image of a shop's creator Avivi who gave up her stable job in 2009. Inspired by the Taobao's perspectives she got down to creating her own brand that same year. Despite the fact that the prices are not really low (they vary from 33 to 245 dollars), Avivi's boutique is really successful thanks to her unique approach to the clothes' design.
The creator of "SYM" online store is a young designer called Winfrey. The concept of her brand is unbelievably simple: it's based on the recycling of used clothes. However she created a special vintage style and wasn't even aware of that. She entered the fashion market as a model.
Artka is another brand worth paying attention to. It became popular thanks to Shanghai Fashion Week 2013. It is famous for the desire of "one girl to sew herself a skirt". There's a beautiful legend that one summer day of 2005 the owner of the brand just wanted to "sew herself a long beautiful skirt" but couldn't stop after that.
It's obvious that the existence of Chinese fashion industry is impossible without modelers with special approach to fashion. There are works of Li Shaofen shown below. Li found a unique use for pieces of plates. It all began when the designer's favorite vase broke. When he saw its fragments he thought of making new things out of them. Of course, such clothes can't be used in everyday life and a girl wearing a dress made of china pieces would be considered dangerous rather than cute. Li Shaofen's creations embody a key idea of Chinese fashion world. On the one hand, they are extravagant, on the other, they keep parts of an ancient tradition (like a painting on plates that had to be destroyed for the delightful cries of viewers of Li's show).
Figuratively about the future
As a modern Chinese modeler, a creator of famous in Asia "Rose Studio" Guo Pei said: "Unfortunately, generally Chinese fashion is far from French, Italian and other European fashions. The thing is, they have a rich history, cultural traditions, but we started only 20 years ago, I am of the first generation of designers myself. Yes, we do develop very fast, for example, if you look at the biggest tree, then it really grew well and can become a part of world fashion "forest", but if you assess it generally, our trees have to grow more."