OK, so perhaps the general Mainland population isn’t as enthusiastic as I am to have a 黑人 as the US President, but a related and important question to this issue is: Is there a felt presence of ethnic minorities in China (and obviously, how does it relate to fashion and fashion’s development in China)?
It’s a new year and a new era of American international relations, the world is arguably more globalized and connected than ever, and the World Expo is fast approaching Shanghai which will reportedly bring 70 million international visitors. But even with all this international mixing and melding and mushing around, what of the 50 ethnic minorities contained within the domestic population of China (and their clothes!)?
Well, perhaps you’ve heard of the Han Chinese. If you haven’t heard of the Han Chinese, then you probably haven’t heard of any other kinds of Chinese ethnic groups… If you have heard of the Han Chinese, you still probably haven’t heard of any other Chinese ethnic minority groups.
I would dare to say that a contributing factor to this is because the idea of an ethnic minority is somewhat stigmatized in China, and similarly is anything that is strongly associated with one of these less “respectable” (for lack of a better term) populations. What I guess my point is is that the clothing of ethnic minorities in China is certainly underappreciated, underutilized, and underinterpreted… They would serve as great sources for inspiration, as would traditional Chinese dress.
I have yet to find Chinese designers that do great reinterpretations of the clothing culture of Chinese ethnic minorities, but I’ve seen some people in real life with styles obviously derived from some not-Han Chinese sartorial inspiration. And I’ve certainly needed something to stimulate my eyes after surveying a sea of homogeneity for so long. A previous reprieve to this predicament came on January 3rd, 2010… Do you remember “Installment 2“?
Well on another, more recent date, I spotted this beautiful, ethnic? robe made even more fantastic and dramatic by the wind:
Even though his little boy is wearing a hat that is obviously (fake) Puma, at least his dad is daring to be different… even more daring than donning a long, sweeping robe in public is the fact that the garment probably has some sort of ethnic connotation to most onlookers, which makes it all the more conspicuous and defiantly different.
The above instance was unfortunately confined to a single person, but one one day I was lucky enough to stumble upon a whole ethnic neighborhood way out in the boonies of Shanghai… look carefully!:
Gypsies, dandies, and religious zealots, oh my!! But regardless of what we could label these people, I propose that we just call them courageous defenders of diversity.