|In the previous blog, we commented on the evolving trend in China on the part of the younger generation to design and create their own fashions. It may be generated more from a sense of pride in their own creativity rather than making more acceptable fashion available to those who are not members of the wealthy elite. The most well-known shopping area in Beijing is Wangfujing Street which may have millions of people there daily though it seems to lack the panache of Fifth Avenue.
Moreover, not all of the fashion styles may appeal to western tastes.
Recently, New York Magazine published an article entitled The Urbanist: Beijing The Fashion Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Beijing which reflects some sophisticated styles. There seems to be a Japanese influence in this particular shop as evidenced by the indigo fabric and the “tsuru” cranes on the display shelf.
On the other hand, the audience for the ensemble below might be a bit limited. However, there are always adventurous sports figures who would probably find it right up their alley. Regardless, there has been a transformational improvement from the early post-Mao dress of thirty years ago.
When one compares the obligatory Mao uniforms of the past with the dress of the current period, it reminds the author of time spent as the Chairman of the Yokohama International School in the early seventies. You might wonder how one reaches such a prestigious position at such an early age. The answer is simple-put the arm on the foreign oil companies in Japan to bail out the school when Japan Airlines nationalized all of the expatriate pilot positions causing the school to face bankruptcy following the dramatic loss of expatriate students. Providing solvency was easy but the most difficult task was being the Chairman. The school board was composed of an American Missionary, a British teacher, a French Diplomat, an American-born Japanese and yours truly. The never-ending debate was whether the school should continue to require everyone to wear school uniforms. The Chairman always selected the Yokohama Athletic Club for the meeting venue as one could adjourn meetings for bar breaks to seek some small measure of sanity.
In the final analysis, the correct conclusion was to require uniforms at that time as an equalizing force among children of different socio-economic groups. Mao seems to have liked the Mao uniform so as to homogenize everyone and preclude any individual thought and independence. Obviously, that genie is out of the bottle though dress is becoming even more creative and self-distinctive. Perhaps Xi Jinping should keep an eye on this development in order to reach his objective of being “Emperor for Life.” As shown below, even the students at the Yokohama International School no longer wear uniforms while that is not the case for Japanese schools. Being individualistic in Japan is not necessarily an asset.