Just yesterday, while doing a little post-nuptial shopping (in China, new couples also need new clothes), my husband and I came upon a typical store with the usual suspects for clothing. He and I were about to write the place off our list until I spied this red thing of beauty on the shelves, nestled in between a bunch of gaudy polyester numbers that bosses in China have worn for years.
What was this thing of beauty? Why, a Tang-dynasty-style polo shirt, graced with a pattern that was proud of everything Chinese: calligraphy, old style drawings and a traditional Chinese collar with a hook.
This wasn’t our first encounter with this new species. About a half an hour later, at yet another seemingly run of the mill store, sure enough there was a half a rack devoted to shirts with a Chinese sense of style. Black, white and red, with hooks instead of buttons and exuberant Chinese calligraphy, these shirts weren’t afraid to go back to the country’s roots.
Why the surprise? For anyone who has followed China’s development, including clothing, the trend has always been to look overseas for inspiration. Popular chain stores such as Metersbonwe, Jeans West and Giordano strive to give Chinese shoppers a sense of being part of the global village as they sell the same fashions we’ve come to know and love in the Western world.
Now it seems China is starting to point the mirror at itself. And the results are truly a thing of beauty.
While on the road, I’ve seen more than a few folks sporting these beautiful shirts, including a rather masculine mid-forties Chinese fellow who, only a few years ago, would have surely worn nothing but those polyester polo shirts.
So, if you’re making a move into China, keep this in mind: Chinese pride is making a comeback in China. And why not? When you consider the history, the arts and culture here, there still is a lot to be proud of.