China is witnessing the resurgence of traditional Chinese fashion as a growing number of devotees are joining the Hanfu movement.
Hanfu, which translates to “Han clothing,” are outfits worn by the Han people in ancient times. The Chinese subculture it was based on has been around for a decade and has grown significantly in the last year, reports Reuters.
According to a survey by Hanfu Zixun, a Hanfu group on Wechat, the community has doubled from a million in 2017 to two million in 2018.
Li Doudou, a 26-year-old property appraiser from Hebei province, is among the proud new members of the movement. After wearing her first Hanfu gown in March, she has been collecting so much Hanfu outfits that she has lost count.
Li has taken her Han fascination beyond clothing as well, attending classes on traditional ceremonies and embarking on learning traditional musical instruments.
“The biggest change for me personally is that it gives me more self-confidence,” she said. “When I wear Hanfu, I feel like I’m the most beautiful person in the world.”
Hanfu influencer Nanzhi999, who has 1.1 million followers on video-sharing site Douyin, reportedly inspired Li to join the movement. In the channel, a tall slim male posts videos featuring him transforming into a beautiful young woman wearing traditional Chinese gowns.
Styles from the Ming, Song and Tang dynasties have become the trendy must-haves for Hanfu enthusiasts. While many enthusiasts wear Hanfu clothing as a fashion statement, some do so for its significance.
“It’s to propagate China’s traditional culture,” as one Hanfu lover puts it.
“The Great Han” author Kevin Carrico, who has studied Hanfu, says there is a combination of history and fantasy in the subculture.
“It’s very much taking a modern concept and projecting it into the past,” he was quoted as saying.
The Hanfu movement is believed to have started in 2003 with Wang Letian from Zhengzhou, China, World of Chinese reports. Wearing Hanfu clothing in public, Wang and his followers have inspired others to reflect on the cultural identity of Han Chinese. They reportedly aimed to stimulate a “Han Chinese cultural renaissance” at the time.
Today, the movement encompasses a very diverse group of individuals who find different sorts of meaning and enjoyment in the category of Han.