Traditional "Hanfu" Fashion Finding Niche Market In China (Video)

    Some young people in China are thinking less about the future of Chinese fashion but instead to its ancient past, creating fashion clubs devoted to traditional Han Chinese clothing, known in Chinese as "hanfu" (汉服) or "hanzhuang" (汉装).
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Chinese Fashion Clubs Make Statement With Traditional Han Chinese Outfits#

    With China becoming the world's second largest luxury market in 2009, many are projecting that Chinese trends will increasingly play a part in global fashion design in coming years, as major fashion houses look eastward for inspiration when developing their newest lines. While no one can be sure if this will be the case just yet, the idea that Chinese consumers won't become trendsetters in some way seems unimaginable.

    However, some young Chinese are thinking less about the future of Chinese fashion but instead to its ancient past, creating "fashion clubs" devoted to traditional Han Chinese clothing, known in Chinese as "hanfu" (汉服) or "hanzhuang" (汉装). According to Baidu Baike (Chinese), hanfu in its earliest forms dates back thousands of years, then was refined in the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and became the de facto Chinese dress until the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Over time, hanfuwas adapted in several other neighboring countries, such as Japan -- where it was adapted into the kimono and yukata -- Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. Calling back to this ancient fashion tradition, some members of China's Han ethnic majority are looking to revive interest in hanfu, often wearing traditional outfits in public places and holding meetings and events with "hanfu clubs."

    While some hanfu enthusiasts dress up for fun, others want to use the surprise factor to remind others of their country's ancient fashion history, which has been confined to television period dramas for decades, and in the period from 1949-1979 was considered a symbol of the country's decadent feudal past. This week, a CNN video spotlights some of these hanfu enthusiasts:

    Another video (Chinese) on the Chinese video-sharing site ku6 features scenes from a Han Dynasty-inspired wedding. Even if you can't understand Chinese, it's an interesting glimpse into a trend that is becoming more popular as western-style weddings become the norm in China. The video also discusses the growing popularity of hanfu among young people in China, discussing the phenomenon with a manager at Hanyi Fang, a fashion brand that specializes in hanfu:

    The key thing with small clubs like these is that they remain very much niche phenomena in China, and are not without their supporters and detractors. While some young Chinese are delighted by their first public exposure to hanfu, and others have dressed up in traditional outfits for years -- mostly for wedding photos -- others, like some members of China's more than 120 million ethnic minorities, may find hanfu, and some of the Han-centric views held by the occasional radical member of a hanfu clubs, somewhat alienating. However, as Chinese designers look to develop their own "modern Chinese" style and set themselves apart from western designers, we may see more design aspects from ancient Chinese history seeping into new designs, much in the same way companies like Shanghai Tang adapted qipao dresses and Zhongshan suits in recent years.

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