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Streetwear in China

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I. Intro: Hedi's Muse? A member requested that I comment on the streetwear situation here in China. He is apparently considering a move, and wants to know whether there will much of style to gaze upon. I met an extremely thin girl, wearing hot pink knee-length pleated shorts, in New York who worked promoting various high fashion brands - notably Dior Homme. She was an ABC (American Born Chinese) from the West Coast and she surprised me by saying that the young men in China were "so hot". Please don't accuse me of being racist, but I just don't here that so much from women. It turns out that I rather agree with her. They far surpassed the men in America, in her eyes. She said that these punk and otherwise youth had captured what Hedi Slimane aims for without even knowing about Dior Homme, let alone being able to afford it. And of course they have the super slim physiques, wild-color dyed hair, and vacuous looks to really master it. That the look is so homegrown and rough made it all the more appealing for her. Those of you who come here or live here may be surprised. Most expats just add the Chinese fashion sense to their list of aspects of the country to bitch about. A group of white males all clad in a uniform of tapered jeans and black teeshirts will sit around condemning the Chinese male for his bad taste. Their superior attitude tends to go well beyond the sartorial, but it is a funny example of it. Or there'll be a pleated, buttoned-down ex-marine, guzzling beer and commenting at all of the moving style violations. People who appear not to give a damn about how they're clad suddenly wax indignant upon arriving in China and so many people who supposedly don't know how to dress. Granted most people here don't have the money or the interest to care about clothing and they tend to look as though they just came in from the village, which they often did. But the expats are usually complaining about the fashion-sense of the new middle class or the extremely style-conscious youth. And our concern here is with streetwear anyway, so peasants and laborers don't count, though they do choke the streets in my part of Dongcheng Qu. II. The Hair Salons and Ducks: Black Much more than in the West, hair salons are a major locus of style. Here is where all the young dudes congregate to preen about and try to outdo each other in extravagance of attire. Tons of rail-thin boys in skin-tight black jeans and silver shirts or sleeveless white blazers haunt the doorways of the hair salons, chain-smoking, adoring only their own gaudy youth. Techno turned louder than the cheap speakers can endure will accompany their posing. Any shoe less than 50 percent longer than their actual foot can never worn by these humorless jesters. Such pointyness would no doubt appall many of our Alden, Vass wearing friends. Enter the salon and there is the master. He is "the Mongol". His long silky hair with pink streaks, his refined beard, his chiseled features, his wolf-like eyes all reveal his origins on the steppe. He is the one who sculpts atrocious masterpieces on heads. His attire also introduces him. His sleeveless top is an combination of black web and silver rings. His shoes are pointy like those of his minions, but they are patterned with the skull and cross bones, repeated in a rainbow of colors. To the Mongol's right stands one assistant. He wears all white, very tight. To his left is another assistant. This fellow has extremely long hair, a handsome face, a shiny floral shirt, black bell-bottoms - outlawed as symbols of western decadence during the seventies, and gold pointy shoes. And in the winter, the attire becomes extreme with the weather. In the middle of the gray and pollution, there will be three dainty lads displaying all degrees of brazenness in their strut and their outerwear. Bleached blond hair, ass tight black pants, and Jackie O glasses were prerequisites for joining this precious little clique. One dude had on a knee-length leopard print fake fur coat, another a matrix style black jacket with a mandarin collar, and another a tight green zebra-stripe suit with a red skull-pattern scarf. I tried talking to them. Though these boys were under twenty and dressed to the nines, there were no sissified antics to be found here. These were ducks. Ducks are the callow youths who throng the Karaoke bars and dancing clubs looking for a good married women to buy them for the night. Ducks are invariably thin, and they give Though foppish, these were mean men of the night, who had a mission. And the women who paid for their service were often minor beauties themselves. They had apparently married overweight pig heads with BMWs, but needed the ducks for their non-material needs. These pretty little malards were always impeccably dressed, in their own way. III. Regional Differences: The Chic South Of course Shanghai is where things are happening on earth right now. Giorgio Armani speculated that its residents probably have no idea how avant-garde of a place they're living in. Prada, Gucci, Costume National, Dior Homme are all available. Of course it's not Tokyo or even Hong Kong, but the people are status conscious and more materialistic than any others in the world. The brands are here to boost global consumption and educate the locals about what chic is. If you go to fancy bars and restaurants in Shanghai, you'll see people clad in more typical streetwear. You'll see the tiresome old diesel jeans and polo shirt in abundance. Shanghai is the most fashionable city in China, and people like to repeat that fact. I've seen some pretty cool outfits here and in other southern cities that thankfully owe little to Diesel or Levi's. Next: "Famous" Brandnames: Levels of Penetration
post #2 of 13
Sorry to disrupt and a little off-topic.
Quote:
These were ducks. Ducks are the callow youths who throng the Karaoke bars and dancing clubs looking for a good married women to buy them for the night. Ducks are invariably thin, and they give Though foppish, these were mean men of the night, who had a mission. And the women who paid for their service were often minor beauties themselves. They had apparently married overweight pig heads with BMWs, but needed the ducks for their non-material needs. These pretty little malards were always impeccably dressed, in their own way.
Those women aren't necessary married. In fact, most of them are just in the prostitution business themselves(not necessary as prositutes) or receive a monthly allowances from man(men) who treat them as private toys for the time being. Prostitutes come to work in major cities from different provinces. Usually the women will find a hometown boy as her companion of the night. The clothings and accessories of the duck are bought and paid by the women.
post #3 of 13
Great article. I had no idea. This sounds way more over-the-top than Tokyo. We need pics. Also, if I may ask, are you "ABC" yourself, or an expat, or what? Thanks for writing this. I look forward to the next installment.
post #4 of 13
Thanks, Lydia for such an in-depth analysis. I was the member who asked her to comment on this subject as I'm considering moving there to make my fortune after I graduate from University this winter. I'm pretty thin by Western standards (true 30" waist) but I'm afraid I'm going to be looked at as a fat-ass if I move there. Better get back on the starvation diet (aka anorexia). If I were to move, it would be most likely to Shanghai as I have family there. I'm glad to hear that it's much more hip than Beijing. Are the ABC expats easy to identify from their clothing? If so, do the locals look to emulate that style or do they shun them for their foreign dress? I'm an ABC in all but name as I was born in Shanghai but moved to the US when I was six years old. I want to know if I move back to Shanghai if I'll have to acquire an entirely new wardrobe or can carry on wearing Western styles.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Great article. I had no idea. This sounds way more over-the-top than Tokyo. We need pics. Also, if I may ask, are you "ABC" yourself, or an expat, or what? Thanks for writing this. I look forward to the next installment.
When is your Asia tour J? What stops planned?
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Quote:
(j @ June 15 2005,09:36) Great article. I had no idea. This sounds way more over-the-top than Tokyo. We need pics. Also, if I may ask, are you "ABC" yourself, or an expat, or what? Thanks for writing this. I look forward to the next installment.
When is your Asia tour J? What stops planned?
Heh.. well right now it's on hold for a while as I just did Japan. Slim, Johnny and I are going to try to go to Germany and Holland, and probably other parts of Europe, to watch the World Cup in the pubs next year. But I think we should have a forum meet at some point in Tokyo, and then I could continue on to Vietnam, Thailand, China, ...
post #7 of 13
hope I can visit those places too someday... good for you J.
post #8 of 13
Yes, the hair salons do have that sort of look about them. However, I will say that the women in Shanghai who frequent the hair salons have infinitely more elaborate coiffures. Think middle-aged women with bleached beehives, and Louis XIV curls cascading in tones of sepia, and blonde. Most any women of fair means have their hair done quite extravagantly compared to say the lank straight hair popular in America. I did notice the prevalence of those highly pointed shoes. And also sometimes faux fur coats. Ducks is an old term; it was also used during the 1920's, and 1930's in China for a gigolo.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
I. Intro: Hedi's Muse? A member requested that I comment on the streetwear situation here in China.  He is apparently considering a move, and wants to know whether there will much of style to gaze upon.   I met an extremely thin girl, wearing hot pink knee-length pleated shorts, in New York who worked promoting various high fashion brands - notably Dior Homme.   She was an ABC (American Born Chinese) from the West Coast and she surprised me by saying that the young men in China were "so hot".   Please don't accuse me of being racist, but I just don't here that so much from women.  It turns out that I rather agree with her.   They far surpassed the men in America, in her eyes.  She said that these punk and otherwise youth had captured what Hedi Slimane aims for without even knowing about Dior Homme, let alone being able to afford it.  And of course they have the super slim physiques, wild-color dyed hair, and vacuous looks to really master it.  That the look is so homegrown and rough made it all the more appealing for her.   Those of you who come here or live here may be surprised. Most expats just add the Chinese fashion sense to their list of aspects of the country to bitch about.  A group of white males all clad in a uniform of tapered jeans and black teeshirts will sit around condemning the Chinese male for his bad taste.  Their superior attitude tends to go well beyond the sartorial, but it is a funny example of it.  Or there'll be a pleated, buttoned-down ex-marine, guzzling beer and commenting at all of the moving style violations.  People who appear not to give a damn about how they're clad suddenly wax indignant upon arriving in China and so many people who supposedly don't know how to dress. Granted most people here don't have the money or the interest to care about clothing and they tend to look as though they just came in from the village, which they often did.  But the expats are usually complaining about the fashion-sense of the new middle class or the extremely style-conscious youth. And our concern here is with streetwear anyway, so peasants and laborers don't count, though they do choke the streets in my part of Dongcheng Qu.   II. The Hair Salons and Ducks: Black Much more than in the West, hair salons are a major locus of style.  Here is where all the young dudes congregate to preen about and try to outdo each other in extravagance of attire.  Tons of rail-thin boys in skin-tight black jeans and silver shirts or sleeveless white blazers haunt the doorways of the hair salons, chain-smoking, adoring only their own gaudy youth.  Techno turned louder than the cheap speakers can endure will accompany their posing.  Any shoe less than 50 percent longer than their actual foot can never worn by these humorless jesters.  Such pointyness would no doubt appall many of our Alden, Vass wearing friends.   Enter the salon and there is the master.  He is "the Mongol".  His long silky hair with pink streaks, his refined beard, his chiseled features, his wolf-like eyes all reveal his origins on the steppe.  He is the one who sculpts atrocious masterpieces on heads.  His attire also introduces him.  His sleeveless top is an combination of black web and silver rings.  His shoes are pointy like those of his minions, but they are patterned with the skull and cross bones, repeated in a rainbow of colors.     To the Mongol's right stands one assistant.  He wears all white, very tight.  To his left is another assistant.  This fellow has extremely long hair, a handsome face, a shiny floral shirt, black bell-bottoms - outlawed as symbols of western decadence during the seventies, and gold pointy shoes.   And in the winter, the attire becomes extreme with the weather.  In the middle of the gray and pollution, there will be three dainty lads displaying all degrees of brazenness in their strut and their outerwear.  Bleached blond hair, ass tight black pants, and Jackie O glasses were prerequisites for joining this precious little clique.  One dude had on a knee-length leopard print fake fur coat, another a matrix style black jacket with a mandarin collar, and another a tight green zebra-stripe suit with a red skull-pattern scarf.  I tried talking to them.  Though these boys were under twenty and dressed to the nines, there were no sissified antics to be found here.   These were ducks.  Ducks are the callow youths who throng the Karaoke bars and dancing clubs looking for a good married women to buy them for the night.  Ducks are invariably thin, and they give Though foppish, these were mean men of the night, who had a mission.  And the women who paid for their service were often minor beauties themselves.  They had apparently married overweight pig heads with BMWs, but needed the ducks for their non-material needs.  These pretty little malards were always impeccably dressed, in their own way.   III. Regional Differences: The Chic South Of course Shanghai is where things are happening on earth right now.  Giorgio Armani speculated that its residents probably have no idea how avant-garde of a place they're living in.  Prada, Gucci, Costume National, Dior Homme are all available.  Of course it's not Tokyo or even Hong Kong, but the people are status conscious and more materialistic than any others in the world.  The brands are here to boost global consumption and educate the locals about what chic is.   If you go to fancy bars and restaurants in Shanghai, you'll see people clad in more typical streetwear.  You'll see the tiresome old diesel jeans and polo shirt in abundance.  Shanghai is the most fashionable city in China, and people like to repeat that fact.  I've seen some pretty cool outfits here and in other southern cities that thankfully owe little to Diesel or Levi's.   Next:  "Famous" Brandnames: Levels of Penetration
Does the expat uniform also still consist of the "North Face" ski shell? edit: re: your passage on Noveau Chinese vis a vis "peasants and labourers". I found it actually quite revolting the way many of the newly rich spent their money.
post #10 of 13
A pic is always more telling, some pics taken by my friend in Shanghai. I don't know if the first pic belongs to the street or the main forum.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Those women aren't necessary married. In fact, most of them are just in the prostitution business themselves(not necessary as prositutes) or receive a monthly allowances from man(men) who treat them as private toys for the time being. Prostitutes come to work in major cities from different provinces. Usually the women will find a hometown boy as her companion of the night. The clothings and accessories of the duck are bought and paid by the women.
Interesting. It seems as though this is a pretty standardized system. Are you talking about the "birds"? I haven't really investigated. I've heard they're pretty much concubines supported by businessmen for pleasure when they are away from their wives. Not a bad system, I suppose. No doubt the birds are regular customers of the ducks as well. The wealthy girls I met, who were accompanied by ducks, claimed to have husbands in other cities and to be on business trips themselves. Maybe they were actually birds though. I didn't realize that the term "duck" had such pedigree. People told me that ducks today are a lower kind of prostitute and not gigolos per say, but I'm sure there are all manner of ducks in the pond. I'm so happy to have a thread on ducks. Please, anybody who can share more about ducks or their fashion, contribute.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I'm pretty thin by Western standards (true 30" waist) but I'm afraid I'm going to be looked at as a fat-ass if I move there. Better get back on the starvation diet (aka anorexia). If I were to move, it would be most likely to Shanghai as I have family there. I'm glad to hear that it's much more hip than Beijing. Are the ABC expats easy to identify from their clothing? If so, do the locals look to emulate that style or do they shun them for their foreign dress? I'm an ABC in all but name as I was born in Shanghai but moved to the US when I was six years old. I want to know if I move back to Shanghai if I'll have to acquire an entirely new wardrobe or can carry on wearing Western styles.
Yes, man, at a 30 inch waist, you would be well-advised to commence purging immediately. I think you should absolutely move to Shanghai. It's one of the "fastest" cities in the world at the moment. It is becoming fashionable but it has a ruggedness lacking in comparable metropolises. It is not all ruggedness either. It has some genteel sections, which can't be said about most other Chinese cities. I prefer Beijing, but I'm a barbarian anyway. I would suggest that if you want to live the high-life in Shanghai with chic companions and shi-shi bars, you keep your American attire. If you want to be a hair-stylist or a duck, well, time for some snakeskin-print vinyl pants. In fact ABCs are kind of identifiable, but you seem thin enough to pass for a local.
Quote:
Also, if I may ask, are you "ABC" yourself, or an expat, or what? Thanks for writing this. I look forward to the next installment.
I'm an expat, I suppose. It seems to have slightly vile connotations. But seriously, you should me me up, j, if you come through Beijing. I actually didn't get to talk about the real "cool" streetwear that you see young hipster types wearing. That will be in the next installment. Once I get a digital camera, I hope to start a website with pictures of all types of Chinese street fashion.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
I'm an expat, I suppose. It seems to have slightly vile connotations.
theres expats and theres expats...come to vietnam if you want to see them at their most vile
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