Modern Hanfu || Embracing Traditional Fashion in Today’s World

The Hanfu Renaissance: All You Need to Know About the Traditional Garment’s Comeback to Chinese Fashion

Traditional Chinese clothing is one (of many!) fascinating aspects of Chinese culture.

In recent years, Hanfu has made a major comeback in Chinese fashion.

Head to any picturesque park on the weekend and it’s not uncommon to see several Hanfu photoshoots going on!

Today we will explore the main features of Hanfu, why it has become popular again, where to buy top brands and what it’s like to wear Hanfu for a day.

Let’s dive in!

Modern Hanfu || Traditional Origins and Style

Modern Hanfu || Tracing Its Origins

Modern Hanfu  || Explaining Its Popularity

Modern Hanfu || Criticisms

Modern Hanfu || Exploring Popular Brands

Modern Hanfu  || A Day Wearing Hanfu

Modern Hanfu  || FAQs

Modern Hanfu || Traditional Origins and Style

Hanfu translates to “Han dynasty clothes” (汉 hàn and 服 fú) as its modern form originates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), the longest and most prosperous in Chinese history.

However, the basic form used now was established during the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 B.C.). 

Hanfu is the oldest traditional clothing in China, dating back almost 4,000 years! 

What are the distinctive characteristics of Hanfu?

  • Crossed collar.
  • Right lapel.
  • Sash instead of buttons.
  • Colourful embroidery, inspired by nature and the changing seasons. 
  • Loose sleeves.

The Hanfu has two main styles: a one-piece dress and skirt/trousers combo.

Hanfu apparel has three layers – underwear, an inner layer and overcoat. 

To complete the costume some popular accessories are socks, shawl, a jade belt, and jade jewellery.

The most popular styles of Hanfu are from the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties

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Modern Hanfu || Tracing Its Origins

The Hanfu Renaissance is a cultural movement that aims to revive Hanfu, which had fallen out of fashion for the past 400 years.

LTL’s Lex is also a fan of Hanfu!

It has been gaining popularity in China and around the world since the early 2000s, when a picture of a man in Zhengzhou wearing a Hanfu went viral.

The man, Wang Letian, was a power utility worker who decided to wear the traditional robe to work. 

Pretty unexpected, right?

This sparked a wave of interest in Hanfu, and with the development of the internet and online shopping, the movement has grown even more.

Now, Hanfu festivals in China can attract more than 40,000 participants!

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Modern Hanfu || Explaining Its Popularity

Traditionally, Hanfu was worn for special occasions, but the revival has seen it become part of everyday fashion. So now, Hanfu can be worn for daily activities like grocery shopping, commuting, and meeting friends!

Hanfu movement is most popular among young people (under 30), particularly college students.

But why is it suddenly popular again? 

🏮Cultural Appreciation: Wearing Hanfu allows Chinese people to connect with their cultural heritage and express their national identity.

📸 Aesthetic Appeal: The unique style of Hanfu is considered beautiful and photogenic, making it popular for social media posts.

👍Social Media Influence: Platforms like Weibo and TikTok have allowed Hanfu enthusiasts to connect with each other, share pictures, and spread awareness of the movement.

🌎Global Chinese Diaspora: The movement has also spread beyond China, with Hanfu associations in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Did you know… Sales of Hanfu increased more than 50 times from 2015 to 2021, being worth over USD 1.45 billion! Amazing, isn’t it?

Want to learn Chinese this summer?

Modern Hanfu || Criticisms

Despite its growing popularity, the Hanfu Movement has faced some controversies.

  • Some argue it romanticizes the past, overlooking the complexities of history. 
  • Others say that it promotes cultural appropriation.
  • Others argue that many of the costumes are historically inaccurate, as they contain modern design elements.

What do you think of these criticisms? Let us know in the comments section!

But here’s the cool part!

Educational initiatives, museums, and cultural institutions are teaming up with the Hanfu community to ensure historical accuracy and promote a comprehensive understanding of traditional clothing.

BONUS || How much do you know about fashion in Japan? Check out our guide to the Japanese Kimono here!

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Modern Hanfu || Exploring Popular Brands

Nowadays, designers are creating unique pieces that pay tribute to the past while embracing the present. 

If you want to have a look or even buy one, here are some popular brands that specialize in Hanfu fashion:

  1. Newhanfu: They offers a wide variety of Hanfu styles, including those from different dynasties such as the Jin, Tang, Han, Song, Ming, and Qing. 
  2. Hanfu Story: They offer some of the best-selling Hanfu, including modern designs. They also provide traditional hair accessories and jewelry to match the outfits.
  3. NewMoonDance: This brand offers a selection of Hanfu for special occasions like the New Year.
  4. Fashion Hanfu: This brand offers both traditional and modern Hanfu styles. They emphasize authentic designs and quality craftsmanship.

Shiyin is a fashion influencer known for wearing traditional outfits from China’s Ming period and sharing her passion for Hanfu on social media. You can check out her profile!

Modern Hanfu || A Day Wearing Hanfu

The Hanfu Renaissance has promoted the development of a comprehensive “Hanfu experience” industry chain, offering services like clothing rental, makeup, and photography.

This trend has gained popularity in historical Chinese cities like Beijing or Xi’an.  

The two main reasons of its popularity are:

  • It provides a unique way to connect with and appreciate China’s history and heritage.
  • Hanfu can be quite expensive to purchase. The cost of renting a Hanfu for a day is typically around 150-300 yuan, depending on additional services like makeup, hairstyling, or professional photography.

Note: Typically, the rental period for Hanfu extends for 24 hours, more than enough to enjoy the experience!

The process for renting Hanfu typically involves the following steps: 

  1. Booking: Some popular shops require advance booking, while others allow in-person visits.
  2. Professional fitting: Experienced staff ensure the Hanfu fits well and aligns with your preferences. You can also ask for accessories like earrings, traditional umbrellas, fans and hairpins!
  3. Sightseeing and photography: Now, wearing your Hanfu you can capture memorable moments at famous places. Some shops offer professional photography services, but they are usually quite expensive!
  4. Return: Whenever you feel like (but inside the 24 hours limit!), you can return the Hanfu to to the shop, where they will help you with removing the clothing, makeup, and hair.

Hanfu enthusiasts worldwide are falling in love with the beauty of these clothes.

👉 The Hanfu Renaissance is more than just a fashion trend. It’s a cultural movement that aims to revive and celebrate traditional Chinese clothing and culture.

Want more from this author? Check out @saratao_chinese on Instagram!

Modern Hanfu || FAQ

What is Hanfu?

Hanfu translates to “Han dynasty clothes” (汉” and “服”) and it originates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). It is the oldest traditional costume, dating back almost 4,000 years!

What are the distinctive characteristics of Hanfu?

The distinctive characteristics of Hanfu are crossed collar, right lapel, sash instead of buttons, colourful embroidery and loose sleeves.

Why is Hanfu popular again?

Hanfu is popular again due to several factors: Cultural Appreciation, Aesthetic Appeal, Social Media Influence and Global Chinese Diaspora.

What are some popular Hanfu brands?

Some popular Hanfu brands are Newhanfu, Hanfu Story, NewMoonDance and Fashion Hanfu.

What are the steps for renting a Hanfu for a day?

The process for renting Hanfu involves the following steps: Booking, Professional Fitting, Sightseeing and Photography, and Return.

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    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

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