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Traditional Chinese Clothing the Rage in Beijing

The hottest item on the Chinese market for this year’s Spring Festival celebrations? The answer is clear: Traditional Chinese clothes, called Tangzhuang. Almost everyone has taken up the trend with enthusiasm, no matter they are children, youth, or the elderly. Traditional jackets come in various styles -- there are ones with buttons down the front, ones with buttons slanting down, or the ones with buttons delicately entwined. In terms of price, whether they are worth 200-300 yuan one piece or over 1,000 yuan, they all sell well. People dressed in Tangzhuang on the streets have presented a most attractive scene at the beginning of this Year of Horse. Many families had every member of their family decked out in Tangzhuang for the New Year.

200,300-yuan Tangzhuang Sell Best

“What’s for dining in during Spring Festival? Jiaozi; What’s for wearing during Spring Festival? Tangzhuang; What’s for gifts? Tangzhuang Still.” This is an advertisement in Beijing for Qian Bai Qian Tangzhuang Street that started the Tangzhaung craze. Homely as these words are, they indicate why people buy Tangzhuang: One for themselves and another as a present. Especially for those who are preparing for holiday celebrations and without anything new to wear, and those who have to rack their minds to think what to give as presents for their relatives or friends, the emergence of Tangzhuang’s popularity came at the right time. With a warming-up performance during the APEC Summit, Tangzhuang caught on as the vogue in this Spring Festival welcoming the Year of Horse.

Then what is the actual number of the Tangzhuang sold out in Qian Bai Qian Clothing Market, also called Tangzhuang Street? The general manager of the Wuhuan market gave us a striking number. “Just within one month, the number of Tangzhuang dealers has gone from the initial 6 to presently over 400, with about 5,000 pieces being sold out per day,” he said. If you take 200 yuan per piece of clothing into account, then everyday some one-million-yuan in business is being transacted in Tangzhuang. According to a conservative estimate, that’s 20 million yuan within the past 20 days.

However, Wuhuan is only one market. Large shopping centers, supermarkets, wholesale markets are also selling Tangzhuang. A survey shows that though wearing new clothes has become more usual in Chinese daily life, about 43 percent of citizens still favor buying new clothes during holidays. At the same time, clothing style has nothing to do with family average income. Judging from the hot sale of Tangzhuang these days, it is believed that at least half of the 43 percent of citizens [buying new clothing for the holidays] bought at least one piece of Tangzhang for this Spring Festival. In addition, there is another statistic showing that on the first day of the New Year, among 120 people who entered Ditan Temple Fair within 10 minutes, 23 were dressed in Tangzhuang. Based on that data, of 13 million people in Beijing, there are more than 2 million people, or one-sixth of Beijing citizens dressed in Tangzhuang. If every piece of Tangzhuang is worth 200 yuan in average, then Beijing is a huge market with more than 400 million yuan’s sale in Tangzhuang.

At Manfulai and Boren clothing stores, two sales counters which specialize in making traditional Chinese attire at Daxing Textile market, the amount taken in for Tangzhuan orders has already reached more than 10,000 yuan in one day. A dressmaker said many elderly came to order the clothes since they fit better. Even after the Spring Festival, many institutes still come to order working clothes featuring the traditional Chinese attire, with several hundred pieces in one order.

The Stop-production Silk Factories Begin Running Again

Last year, the Chinese Knot was in vogue in China, bring back to life to a bunch of cotton-rope production factories that were on their last legs. For this year, the high popularity of Tangzhuang, similarly, saved many silk factories that had been struggling for survival not long ago.

These days, the business in Dongsi Daxin textile stores, well-known for selling cloth, is quite good, with tapestry satin their most popular product. The sale counters were jammed with customers coming to choose their favorite clothes. In the backrooms, salesmen were busy ordering more materials for consumers. Chinese Character Fu (good fortune) and Shou (long life) were the hottest items. A salesman said that on the day with biggest sale, over 1,000 meters of cloth was sold. So far, many kinds of flower-pattern clothes have been temporarily sold out with no additional materials to meet the current demand.

A salesman with the surname of Zhang from one of the silk factories in Hangzhou said that he was very busy selling silk between Beijing and Hangzhou during this Spring Festival. He is excited to see so much business opportunities brought forward by the traditional Chinese clothing. Zhang said that the silk factory he represented was on the edge of bankruptcy not long ago, but now, several hundreds of machines have begun working again, with the tapestry satin’s production volume over 10,000 meters per day. However, this amount still cannot meet market demand, and the production scale has been increased several times so far. According to his information, at several big-size wholesale markets for cloth in north China, the vendor’s stands for tapestry satin have been quickly increased to double their original size, and the wholesale dealers have to make orders half a month in advance.

Zhang also said that many middle- or small-size pure-silk factories, which had already announced bankruptcy just a short time ago, quickly reopened their businesses and resumed production after seeing the big potential market in silk production. Some other enterprises that were planning to go out of business also began to produce tapestry satin as well, and their business is booming.

(北青报 [Beijing Youth Daily] by Chen Hui & Wang Fang, February 18, 2002, translated by Feng Shu for china.org.cn)

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