For nearly two decades, the Chinese traditional dress pattern Hanfu was a well-known social phenomenon in mainland China. Hanfu has grown from a fashion trend to a full-fledged movement that thrives on Chinese social media.What began as an internet phenomenon in 2003 has grown into a major trend, a project – the Hanfu Movement, which is thriving on Weibo and beyond.
Hanfu Movement Background
Wang Letian was walking down the streets of Zhengzhou in Hanfu in November 2003. His actions became news, and it appeared quickly on internet blogs. Aside from the online debates, LinaheZaobao, a Singaporean newspaper, contributed to the spread of information about Wang Letian’s actions by publishing an article about his audacious advance. This represented the beginning of the Hanfu Campaign.
After two decades, the wearing of Hanfu has evolved into a true phenomenon, with many young Chinese men and women wearing the traditional Chinese dress, especially on college campuses where the trend is very much alive.
In its most basic idea, the Hanfu Movement is a social trend that encourages the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothes. The concentration on Han ethnicity is important here. Han Chinese constitutes the vast bulk of China’s population, accounting for more than 90 percent of the total population. However, elements that are known outside of China as being distinctly Chinese, such as the queue, are simply of Manchu origin.
The Manchus are a Northeastern Chinese ethnic group with cultural links to the Mongols, who controlled China’s last dynasty, the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Since the Manchus were the dominant class during the last Chinese imperial dynasty, their dress style has influenced foreign views of China.
The Hanfu Movement is based on the belief that ethnic Han clothing, as worn during Han Chinese dominated dynasties such as the Han dynasty (202BC-220AD), the Tang dynasty (618-907), and the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), has significant importance in its own right and should be worn and admired by contemporary Han Chinese, much as ethnic clothing of China’s minorities is appreciated in modern China.
Back to the headlines, Hanfu was once again a trending subject on Weibo this Christmas. Classic Chinese clothes fans posed online in their Christmas-inspired Chinese attire.It was yet another trend in the Hanfu Movement, which has become a hot subject on Weibo with hundreds of hashtags and thousands of photos, videos, and posts, with the official Weibo Hanfu account boasting 1.8 million followers and a Weibo ‘supertopic’ on Hanfu gaining nearly half a million fans.
While Hanfu enthusiasts rarely go out on the streets wearing the clothing style, Hanfu sales have skyrocketed in recent years. Many Chinese youth have begun to wear Hanfu in the last two decades, probably as a result of the success of Chinese costume dramas. It is, though, more than just a form of cosplay or a new clothing design. As Xu Jiao herself says in the video: “It’s not just a style, it’s a mission.”
So, what binds the bulk of Hanfu enthusiasts together? Hanfu fans take pleasure in wearing Hanfu, and they do it obviously because they love it. Furthermore, they feel it is important that others, both within and outside of China, develop a greater understanding of Han Chinese ethnic culture. Hanfu is more than a passing fad. It is a subculture, a style, and it is the root of Xu Jiao’s and many others’ misfortune.