Popular 'face-kini' updated with peking opera themes

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CRI, July 17, 2015
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The facial swimwear mask, first born in 2004, has become widely popular in a culture where females value pale skin as delicate and feminine. Zhang Shifan, a former accountant from Qingdao City in China's eastern Shandong province and the product's inventor, came up with the idea based on customers' requests for a full-body swim mask that would protect them from the sun and jellyfish.

Zhang says despite the product's remarkable success, it also scared small children and other visitors at the beach. To fix the problem, Zhang thought of incorporating the widely popular face paintings from traditional Pekin Opera for the product's latest and fifth version.

"In the past I really wanted to do everything I could to avoid scaring people. If I was to make a face-kini, I wouldn't make a black one, I wouldn't make a white one, nor dark colours, nor brown, nor even grey... But scaring people still couldn't be avoided. So I thought--why don't I draw on some of these Peking opera designs that Chinese people like? So little children might not be so scared when they see these designs."

At only 5 or 6 dollars a pair, Zhang's creation has attracted a loyal following across China as well as many counterfeits.

64-year-old Wang Baoyu, a loyal customer of the "face-kini" for nearly a decade, expresses her love for the authentic product.

"I'm afraid of getting stung by jellyfish, so I buy face-kinis. Face-kinis also prevent you from getting tanned. This store is authentic and I rode a bus for more than an hour just to come here. I wouldn't dare buy other face-kinis from street vendors as I'm afraid of buying counterfeit ones."

Liu Keliang, Zhang's husband, says he and his wife are committed to continually improving their products.

"Within just 10 years, the scope of uses for the face-kini has expanded. The face-kini doesn't just have to be used when showering, or swimming in the ocean, but it can also prevent one from tanning when hiking outside, or outside when in the forest for an outdoor excursion. This is a new technology that reflects our modern lifestyle."

The "face-kini" sold around 30,000 units last year. As China enters its summer season, Zhang plans to begin sales of the updated version in early August.

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