Four fashion trends influenced by Chinese culture
Chinese culture has impacted style trends for many years. Now, let's take a look at how modern Chinese street style is making its way into fashion today.
Welcome to the world of modern Chinese street style, but, of course, the country’s influence on fashion goes way back.
In 2015, New York City’s Met Museum celebrated the impact of Chinese design on fashion history and culture with an exhibit called China: Through The Looking Glass. Who could forget Rihanna’s 55-pound canary-yellow Guo Pei gown to the opening night gala; it did inspire hundreds of memes, after all!
Following the exhibit, people’s obsession with Chinese-inspired design was heightened and designers continued to look to the country’s rich history for ideas. In honor of the Chinese Moon Festival, here are some of our favorite fashions from the east.
Chinese embroidery dates back 5,000 - 6,000 years. The government has recognized four schools of Chinese embroidery as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage: Shu Embroidery, Xiang Embroidery, Su Embroidery, and Yue Embroidery. Each style varies in its influences and technique, but has been an enduring influence for fashion designers in the west. It’s rare that a season goes by without a brand or label paying tribute to one of these ornate styles of embroidery, particularly on bags, shoes, dresses, and coats.
Silk pajama sets
Immediately after the aforementioned Met Exhibit and Met Gala in 2015, there was a noticeable surge in celebrities and tastemakers stepping out in matching silk pajama sets. On the catwalks of Prada and Gucci, sleepwear went fancy with the addition of embellishment and feathers. It’s now become a go-to look for the street style set for many years. In China and in the US, bloggers and models opt to jazz up their jammies with fun accessories and detailing. After several months of adapting to the WFH style, we all leaned toward the comfy-chic too, further boosting the popularity of the silk set.
The cheongsam, or qipao, is as traditional as it gets. This fitted frock dates as far back as the Ming Dynasty of the 16th Century. The tight, figure-hugging dress became majorly popular again in Shanghai in the 1920s, when it was favored by upper class socialites. These days, it’s common nature to see both high street and high end brands nod to the tradition, modernizing it slightly.
To simply call masks a trend is to downplay what a public health essential they have been but hear me out! In 2020, wearing face coverings became the norm as a way to cull the spread of COVID-19. But, what’s new to us has been prevalent in China since the early 1900s. While people in the Western world tended to only don a mask under extreme circumstances (like the Spanish Flu), they have always remained popular in China, symbolizing care for the community and civic awareness. Wearing masks to match your outfit or even going for a fancy, embellished one is something that the Chinese have been doing long before people in the west.