Chinese women dressing in Hanfu. Photo: courtesy of Jinfengchangsu
Chinese women dressing in Hanfu. Photo: courtesy of Jinfengchangsu
Chen Xiaofang, a 26-year-old college graduate, placed an order online for a piece of a long dress embroidered with flowers and pearls or Hanfu – an ancient garment traditionally worn by the Han ethnicity – in the middle of ‘a trend that the Traditional Chinese costume is making a comeback.
The Beijing-based white-collar worker ‘s appetite for Hanfu has aroused in recent days as she sees a growing cohort of clothed youth on the streets as well as in parks and tourist sites.
“Han clothes look so beautiful at first glance, and will fulfill my fantasy for a traditional Chinese blonde woman. It is an emblem of the pride of the Chinese people, which also carries a lot of weight in the representation of culture and of traditional Chinese history, ”Chen told Global Times on Monday.
As a newcomer to the subculture, Chen had spent around 500 yuan ($ 77.65) to purchase the garment. Compared to Chen, Huang Lanlan, a Hanfu fan based in Shanghai, spent more, to date exceeding more than 70,000 yuan.
Huang was drawn to the beauty of the Han costume in 2014, when she accidentally took part in a local Hanfu demonstration show for the Qixi festival, also called Chinese Valentine’s Day. Her self amassed a collective fever over seven years, during which time she met friends with similar interests and they held Hanfu-themed rallies.
“My expenditure on Han clothes is now around 70,000 yuan, with an average price per piece of around 500 yuan. As the Han costume market grows, the prices have dropped significantly and become more affordable for younger people, ”Huang said, adding that in the past, a Ming Dynasty Han garment could cost over 1,000. yuan.
In addition to clothes, Huang also spent an additional 20,000 to 30,000 yuan on exquisite headdresses, makeup and photographs.
“In terms of spending level, I’m right in the middle. Some passionate Han clothing enthusiasts don’t set limits on their budgets, and they buy luxury items designed as collections,” Huang told The Global Times on Monday. .
Huang’s lyrics highlight a rapidly growing market as the ancient garment renaissance gains ground. According to a report released by iiMedia, the number of Hanfu enthusiasts in China has nearly doubled from 3.56 million in 2019 to over 6 million at the end of 2020. Among which, Gen Z belongs to the major consumer groups .
In 2021, that number is expected to climb further to 6.89 million, opening up a market that could be worth 10.2 billion yuan, according to the report.
A booming industry
In Cao County, east China’s Shandong Province, which is believed to account for more than a third of Hanfu’s sales across the country, factory workers across the supply chain – from the production plant, from fabric supplier to embroidery factories – have reached out to catch up with orders, which have started to soar since the second quarter.
Cao Country is home to more than 2,000 merchants involved in Han clothing, according to media reports.
“Custom orders from our Han garment factory are already scheduled for late July,” an official surnamed Zhu at a Hanfu manufacturing and supply plant based in Cao County told The Global Times on Sunday.
Echoing Zhu’s limited capacity, an employee of Minghuatang, a high-end luxury brand Hanfu, also told the Global Times on Monday that his factory’s production was fully scheduled until March 2022. The price of his Han clothing ranged over 1000 yuan. at nearly 10,000 yuan per piece.
Zhu’s factory currently supplies Hanfu with 40 to 50 physical stores across the country. The factory’s daily production capacity for a 6-meter Han skirt is about 2000 sets, and for a 4.5-meter Han skirt, the production capacity is over 2000.
Zhu noted that with the local supply chain being quite complete, he plans to further increase production capacity to cope with the surge in orders.
According to Zhu, his factory has already received overseas orders from a group of Chinese international students based in Los Angeles, who ordered a batch of Hanfu for local Chinese students to wear.
Another manager, surnamed Zhang, of a Han clothing company in Cao County, told the Global Times on Monday that they now produce and sell more than 10,000 Han clothing each month, which is significantly higher than the sales of Last year.
“The impact of the coronavirus is gradually easing, and many Hanfu events planned for last year have been postponed to opening in recent days, which has led to explosive demand for the outfit,” Zhang said.
On par with the increasing purchasing power of the younger generation and wider recognition of traditional culture, the prospect of the Hanfu market is lucrative, which has attracted venture capital (VC) keen to secure a share. of the cake.
Hanfu’s main Chinese brand, Shisanyu, reportedly raised more than 100 million yuan in its A-round fundraiser in April, led by Chinese VC Loyal Valley Capital and Chinese video platform type Youtube Blibli. Other high-profile Hanfu makers, including Chonghuihantang and Huashangjiuzhou, have also received funds from VC ranging from 5 million yuan to 100 million yuan.
Chinese social media platforms, such as Weibo and Douyin, have helped fuel Hanfu’s popularity. For example, Chinese diving queen Guo Jingjing’s recent look – in Han clothes – at an event promoting Chinese culture – generated a buzz on Weibo.
Young people are more and more aware of sharing their photos and videos of themselves in traditional costume on social networks. And that led to a flourishing business in Hanfu makeup and photography.
Cheng Pei opened the Jinfengchangsu Photo Studio in Beijing near the Palace Museum, providing customers with a full Hanfu shooting experience from getting dressed to filming.
“The number of customers coming to the store for our Hanfu filming services has increased significantly after the Spring Festival this year, increasing by more than 50 percent from last year,” Cheng told the Global Times.
Cheng noted that his studio had recently hired new members in order to cope with the surge in customer orders, even though it had already hired several employees late last year.
But industry watchers have expressed concern over Hanfu’s intellectual property (IP) issue, which they believe could rob the industry of creativity and originality in the long run.
“It takes time for a brand to design a Hanfu boutique, with carefully chosen fabric and intricate print details. But some ‘copier’ merchants could easily copy the design and replace it with inferior prints,” so that they can quickly produce on a large scale and gain market share, ”an industry insider told The Global Times on condition of anonymity.
The insider added that it takes months for an original Hanfu to apply for and receive a patent, but meanwhile, the “copy” merchants have reportedly already sold their copied Han clothes.
“We hope that the industry can be developed in a more regulated and healthier way in the future,” she said.