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The New Chinese Style Trend Isn't Really New, But It's Proving Lucrative

The New Chinese Style Trend Isn't Really New, But It's Proving Lucrative
The New Chinese Style Trend Isn't Really New, But It's Proving Lucrative



What's old is new again. This time, it's a centuries-old skirt that's proving popular in China. The mamianqun or horse head skirt is worn in cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, as young Chinese give the outfit a modern twist, with unconventional combinations and fabric choices.

While once reserved for fans of hanfu (a revival of ancient clothing traditionally worn by ethnically majority Han Chinese before the Qing dynasty) and reserved for special occasions, pleated skirts, often made of brocade, are now a part of everyday life .

The skirt's popularity has been wrapped up in a broader trend dubbed xinzhongshi, or new Chinese style that fuses all kinds of contemporary design with traditional Chinese aesthetics, applied to everything from clothing to furniture.

Cao County, Shandong Province, is one of the main centers of hanfu production and sales in China.  There are various theories about where the mamianqun or

While the idea is not new and was once considered old-fashioned, the broad term is used as a marketing tool on China's lucrative e-commerce platforms, with retailers quick to spin the patriotic and sometimes nationalist sentiments of the generation Z, for example. profit.

On Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Xiaohongshu, hashtag searches for new Chinese style and new Chinese style outfits exceeded 100 million in early April, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Besides fashion, the posts show everything from upholstered leather armchairs with the curves of traditional Chinese wooden furniture to cellphone wallpapers depicting landscape paintings.

The state-backed National Textile and Clothing Council of China estimates that the market size of new Chinese-style clothing will reach 1 billion yuan (nearly $138 million) in 2023.

On Xiaohongshu, a 33-year-old user, who goes by the name Momo and did not give her real name for privacy reasons, frequently gives advice on how to wear Chinese clothes. In one post, she showed how one can wear an oversized pink sweatshirt with a black mamianqun, pairing it with a baseball cap and matching sneakers.

Xiaohongshu user Momo shows her subscribers how she styles her mamianqun.

More and more young people are willing to use traditional culture as a new way to express their attitudes. It's a good thing and very cool, she told CNN in a text message.

It is mainly young people who follow the trend, recognizes Huang Weizhe, 32-year-old designer and director of local fashion brand Longfuji.

On social media, Huang shares his ways of dressing in the new Chinese style, and in one post he wears a loose silk shirt with jeans.

There is no fixed rule in the new (trendy) Chinese style that you must follow, so it is more inclusive. This is the style that young people like now, he told CNN by telephone.

Fashion designers like Samuel Gui Yang, whose collections have long drawn inspiration from Chinese heritage, are seeing growing interest from mainland China in their brands due to the new Chinese style trend.

But unlike mamianqun, which is a real nod to the past and is mass-produced, his 9-year-old brand aims to bridge the gap between Shanghai and London and draw inspiration from the rich tapestry of this what does it mean to be Chinese, in China. and abroad.

I think my broader audience is really a fan of how we're introducing this Chineseness (the) heritage details in a more subtle way, he said in a telephone interview.

The Chang dress.
The Lee jacket.

For Yang, The aesthetic and themes of Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lees' 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman represent his idea of ​​what the new Chinese style should be. The film about the life of a great chef and his three daughters navigating the tensions between modernity and traditions, personal freedom and family. According to Yang, this subtly reflects the lifestyle of Chinese people, especially the direct connection between a dining table and interpersonal relationships. The film, he added, provides us with a lot of inspiration for our design journey, and it still draws inspiration from the Asian clothing style of the 80s and 90s.

There's the Lee denim jacket, inspired by Hong Kong martial arts and film star Bruce Lee, and the Ailing dress, named after Shanghai-born American novelist Eileen Chang. At Shanghai Fashion Week last March, he showed a bias-cut long-sleeve qipao with rolled up sleeves (top in photo), giving a new update to the classic silhouette.

A look from Ian Hylton's Fall-Winter 2024 collection.

For Ian Hylton, a designer and decades-long resident of China, New Chinese Style is a misnomer. His eponymous menswear brand draws heavily on Chinese clothing styles and motifs: elegant loose silk shirts with mandarin collars, Tang puffer jackets and cashmere coats with buttoned bows.

I'm not a fan of this term new Chinese style at all, because to me it's like saying new French clothes, new Italian clothes, Hylton told CNN over the phone. There's nothing new. There's a new way to approach it, but it's sort of treated as a trend, like short or long skirts. They are part of a culture, they are its fabric and composition.

Hylton's wife, Min Liu, launched her own brand inspired by Chinese aesthetics, Ms. Min, in 2010, in response, he said, to the fact that most people in the country did not wear Chinese clothing. Hylton is the company's president.

A dress by Ms. Min subtly combines modern tailoring with Chinese aesthetics.

When I came to China, there was no billboard, there was no advertising, there was nothing that featured a Chinese person, said Hylton, who moved to China in 2005 as creative director of luxury fashion brand Ports 1961. Everything was a foreign face, everything foreign was good and everything local was disrespected.

He said the tide has turned over the past decade, as young Chinese have become more aware and confident of their place in the world and embracing China's culture and history. Domestic fashion brands have also seen a boom during the pandemic as strict travel restrictions have prevented mainland Chinese from purchasing luxury goods abroad.

Designer Huang Weizhe, who goes by the name Azhe online, often posts ideas on how to embrace the

Meanwhile, Xiaohongshu user Momo said the popularity of the new Chinese style was due to serious marketing, which she doesn't necessarily adhere to.

Douyin, China's TikTok released a report in March showing an 841% increase in sales of mamianqun skirts, which typically cost around 200 yuan (about $28), on its e-commerce platform, compared to the previous year . State broadcaster CCTV reported that Cao County in Shandong province, which it said accounts for about half of the nation's mamianqun production, sold 550 million yuan worth (nearly 76 million dollars) of skirts during the first two months of the year, an increase attributed to the approach of the Lunar New Year holiday.

But some of the new Chinese-style products are of poor quality, she said, although she thinks their design will improve over time.

Whatever the trends, Momo said she will continue to teach her 33,000 followers how to wear traditional clothing as much as possible on the go, to study and to work.

Every time we wear a new Chinese style or hanfu and mamianqun, it is a way of inviting more people, including those around the world, to understand (our) culture.




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