The Hanfu Movement was not without its origins or causes. Tracing back to the 1990’s was a re-focusing of Confucian studies among Chinese scholars, followed by the de facto cause that was the debut of “Tangzhuang” in the 2001 APEC Conference and Wang Letian’s 2003 walk. Ever since 2005, there was a significant commercial move that began to support the Hanfu movement from the market perspective. After all, it is impossible to support a material culture in a market-economy society without making the Thing in question a commodity. Only then, can we have basis for proving the ideas we support by showing material evidence.
Let’s take a look at what businesses or attempts have been made over the past 3 years.
– Clothing Shops: The most obvious connection to reviving Han clothing is the production and marketing thereof. Similar to the movement itself, it began with private commissions done via online communication (forums and instant messaging), which eventually grew into online shops (eBay-Taobao). Some shops gradually ventured into brick-and-mortar stores, but operation is still difficult in competition: Awareness and preference for Tangzhuang poses a significant challenge. Aside from this, it is also difficult to divide cultural promotion from marketing promotion. Aside from actual clothing itself, there are many businesses making accessories, from fragrance pouches to embroidered shoes to umbrellas – you name it, you have it.
Some criticize that there is not enough competition among the makers to increase the quality of the clothing made (many Hanfu supporters do not own a set because of the lack of quality in material and/or cutting and design), while others are concerned if certain makers today are exploiting the support as a fad and are concerned on profit more than quality.
– Restaurants: What’s a “Chinese Business” without restaurants? With the mentality that food is God, restaurants provide one of the most important businesses that portray the image of the culture. For the Hanfu Movement, there’s been an attempt by Feng Maofang (豐茂芳, netname Xiaofeng 小豐) of Beijing back in 2007 to open a Hanfu-themed Chinese restaurant, depicting how people back in the days of wearing Hanfu sat on cushioned matresses and low tables, listened to guqin pieces, and ate in a somewhat different manner from today. Due to matters of labour, the focus then was in hot pots, and due to the unexpected large expenses, it closed down after a better half of the year. While there has been some talk and experimentation with simple Hanfu for waiting staff in other restaurants, there has yet been another restaurant so dedicated to Hanfu promotion. Xiaofeng is now working actively in cultural promotion in giving speeches, research, and helping out in the clothing business.
– Private Schools: The traditional-styled Confucian study halls (學塾) are registered to the government as private “cultural development” corporate firms, and they are found in many major cities along the Jiangnan region, Shandong Peninsula (due to Qufu, hometown of Confucius), as well in the capital Beijing. Aside from teaching elementary-grade children the Chinese classics, they introduce Han Chinese dress and ritual related to study (A student needs to be initiated to childhood, studentship, and adulthood when the time comes). Fu Lujiang 傅路江 (mentioned earlier regarding the Olympic proposal) is the founder and teacher in one of these study halls near Beijing.
Next article will feature major events in the Hanfu Movement and results of its effects.