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Chinese men need more style and less fashion

babygreenspots

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PRC men need more style of the styleforum variety than fashion. For the last decade (I have been here off and on) they have been besieged with images of runways, new fashion mag titles, and celebrity culture. Those that care about clothing, like this fellow, tend to mimic or mismatch what is in fashion at this very moment. The average businessmen - no matter how rich they are - make Midwesterners look like Parisians.

In fact, young fellows in the streetwear category do a much better job of creating their own style.

Do you think that the "style" we discuss here has a good chance among affluent mainlanders? How do you think this will develop?
 

LabelKing

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My parents--who are from Shanghai--say that people from the Mainland are instantly identifiable by their rather tacky dress-sense.

The Taiwanese are identified by their provincialism. Hong Kong people are trendy with pretenses towards the avant-garde.
 

Zenny

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That picture is gold. His gloves need to be mismatched though for the full effect.
 

lightsaber

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Originally Posted by babygreenspots
PRC men need more style of the styleforum variety than fashion. For the last decade (I have been here off and on) they have been besieged with images of runways, new fashion mag titles, and celebrity culture. Those that care about clothing, like this fellow, tend to mimic or mismatch what is in fashion at this very moment. The average businessmen - no matter how rich they are - make Midwesterners look like Parisians. In fact, young fellows in the streetwear category do a much better job of creating their own style. Do you think that the "style" we discuss here has a good chance among affluent mainlanders? How do you think this will develop?
As much as I appreciate classic and conservative menswear, when it's done well, I wouldn't be too hard on the guy in your link. First of all, you're right that businessmen in east Asia are dressed abominably (I'm in Seoul at the moment so I know) but you must realize that the guy in the picture is not a businessman. Secondly, his jacket is brilliant, and whatever you think about his neckwear, at least he isn't dressed like the typical recently-graduated fratboy working in an insurance office. You're mad to imagine that a Midwesterner looks better than him. Your point about it being all bandwagon-jumping and mimicry is correct, of course. But despite the meretriciousness of fashion, I'll take fashion over slobbish and undistinctive midwestern office-wear any time.
 

mulansauce

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^^
He said the average businessmen look worse than Midwesterners. I don't think the gent in his link was your average Mainland businessman
 

remn

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Originally Posted by mulansauce
^^ He said the average businessmen look worse than Midwesterners. I don't think the gent in his link was your average Mainland businessman
That guy looks like some kid going to prom.
 

babygreenspots

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Originally Posted by Zenny
That picture is gold. His gloves need to be mismatched though for the full effect.

He is a model who has appeared on the covers of several magazines here. My post was unclear. He is clearly not anywhere close to being a typical businessman. I didn't even mean to single him out for looking terrible. His look definitely caught my eye.

@LK - that is a great description. Clearly the more fashionable mainlanders go toward the HK model. They jump immediately to the avant-garde without any middle step as it were - directly from Mao suits to Comme des Garçons and Rick Owens. Local designers compete to make the most outlandish style.

Of course the style we discuss is a very Western thing. It is not "traditional" for people here.
 

remn

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Originally Posted by babygreenspots
He is a model who has appeared on the covers of several magazines here.

oh...
 

yfyf

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A few thoughts:

A huge problem is the complete vacuum of sartorial role models. I cannot think of a single person of Chinese descent whose mode of dress is worth emulating. The white folks in the average Zegna or Dunhill ad appear too unattainable. For them, it's a case of why bother? There's also no recognition of subtlety.

I think the feeling of men's clothing is another. I think if you're exposed to things like trousers, shirts, blazers, ties at a young age and you get used to wearing them, you're more likely to be able to tolerate it and may even grow to like it (as I did). You need a critical mass of people dressing to a certain standard and setting the bar higher for fit, quality and a certain type of taste.

For the mainlanders, I think the perception of the suit has unfortunately been sinking further and further. Cheap suits are so ubiquitious, construction workers will wear them as beater wear. It's hard for people to consider it something to aspire to.

From a few conversations with some of the Shanghai tailors I frequent, Chinese folks have little understanding of subtlety, particularly when it comes to cloth, and are quite spineless and lazy when it comes to wearing something well. Girlfriends and mistresses picking clothes for their men using their own extremely dubious taste cause even more problems.

I have a friend who sells imported Japanese brands that are a little more fashion forward, he's also where I get my Lad Musician stuff from. He has observed that the mainlanders gravitate towards easy-to-understand, flashier items like washed denim, patent sneakers and one button jackets and will pair them into outfits poorly and buy inappropriate sizes. Why is this? Lack of exposure and knowledge. His Japanese clientele are the ones picking up the more sophisticated items like the chelseas boots, wool trousers etc. Also, he loves the question "Why is this 6000 RMB? I could buy Prada for this!"
 

Scoundrel

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Style or fashion, what's the difference? Either way, they're being influenced by the West! What style should they adopt? Why, American or English of course!
 

yfyf

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Originally Posted by Scoundrel
Style or fashion, what's the difference? Either way, they're being influenced by the West! What style should they adopt? Why, American or English of course!

This would be an issue if American or English style was crowding out some sort of traditional Chinese style, but unfortunately that's long been shelved. I actually wouldn't mind seeing more folks in traditional Chinese dress more often, just like you still see in a lot of other parts of the world (Japan, Pakistan, Africa). I guess the standard for the modern business wardrobe may have a little to do with that though.
 

yfyf

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Originally Posted by LabelKing
My parents--who are from Shanghai--say that people from the Mainland are instantly identifiable by their rather tacky dress-sense.

The Taiwanese are identified by their provincialism. Hong Kong people are trendy with pretenses towards the avant-garde.


Out of curiosity, are your parents clotheshorses? Do they dress better than the average person?
 

babygreenspots

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Originally Posted by yfyf
Out of curiosity, are your parents clotheshorses? Do they dress better than the average person?

I'm also a bit curious about his parents. LK: is anyone writing a book about your family?

More traditional Chinese dress would be great if properly done. It would be a major improvement especially for the men.

@yfyf: Great anecdotes from the tailor and the seller of avant-garde Japanese stuff. There is a huge love of patent leather everything recently. The one-button jacket has caught on in a big way and there are some of these also.

The average women has an even more dreadful sense of style - or at least more aggressively tasteless - in many respects, so the decisions should clearly not be left to them. The men's magazines editors, however, have a great interest in educating people about traditional Western styles - the difference between a wingtip and a captoe and stuff like that. So someone is clearly trying to fuel the interest in these things.
 

modern_leifeng

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I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but some points as a lawyer in China who, like the original poster, has been traveling back and forth to China (and within China) over the past decade:

1. "Style" in Communist China has only been around for 25 years. Before that, everyone was basically dressing the same way and touches of style that made you stand out were a negative. But look at the recently released Life photos or images from the pre-Communist era, those people had style and they were Chinese, there is definitely hope.

2. Asian business people in general tend to dress very badly. There are some people who dress "decently" in my office, but for the most part they are only a little better than "Midwestern businessmen" (the same general look, but better fitting and nicer shoes).

3. Style is typically not cheap, especially without any second hand stores around the city. Guys in China have a lot of pressure on them, if they want to get married, they basically must be able to buy an apartment and often aren't from rich families or even the big city to begin with. The people around me and many that I know work insane hours and don't have much time for shopping. Even if they did, the majority of money is either saved or sent to their parents.

4. Nobody wants to stand out in the workplace for anything other than his work and when the boss(es) rarely wears a suit, its hard for his underlings to do so. The casual nature of the Chinese workplace makes it hard for someone who wants to be stylish to fit in with the overall office asethetic. Even in the US or UK, if you go to a major international law firm or i-bank, the style is very conservative and a lot of people would fall short of "stylish", perhaps expectations are too high.

5. Street style is extremely diverse and relativley fashion forward here, because people who are in fields that allow them to wear street wear to work aren't usually faced with the limiting issues 3 and 4 mentioned above.

With those points aside, I think you're being too hard on Chinese. If you spent more time around Guomao or the Kerry Centre or on Financial Street, you'll see people who have decent fashion sense. Even those without it tend to do better than the average American who is wearing clothes that just don't fit (or at least not appropriate for their body type).

Then again, I know things get a lot worse when you are outside of Beijing/Shanghai (or just outside the CBD), so maybe my CBD centered life has me feeling things aren't that bad.
 

modern_leifeng

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Originally Posted by yfyf
A few thoughts:

A huge problem is the complete vacuum of sartorial role models. I cannot think of a single person of Chinese descent whose mode of dress is worth emulating.


Not even Li Yong?


But seriously (well, I am sort of, kind of, half serious about it, at least his less outlandish looks (then again, it proves your point about subtlety)), that statement is pretty harsh...There are a lot of guys who, if young Chinese chose to emulate their style more, wouldn't be far off. That's not saying there's a Chinese Agnelli out there, but there are those whose style would pass muster on this forum (I'm thinking of guys like Handel Lee).
 

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