The Chinese Hanfu horse-face skirts are selling like crazy

The Chinese Hanfu horse-face skirts are selling like crazy

This year, the manufacturers of horse-faced skirts in Caoxian County, Shandong Province were too busy during the Spring Festival holiday.

"Customers called me on New Year's Eve." Meng Xiaoxia, chief designer of Caoxian Chenfei Clothing Co., Ltd., once again felt the "top status" of horse-faced skirts.

At the urging of customers, the company's offline Hanfu showroom opened early on the first day of the new year. "On the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, many customers really couldn't wait, so we sent our employees to work early with three times the salary." She said that the entire exhibition hall was full as soon as she got to work, and customers even took away the horse-faced skirts worn by the child models last winter. . Even before the Spring Festival, almost all of the company's products were sold out and there was no overstock. Currently, the factory is working overtime every day to produce.

Not only Meng Xiaoxia's company, but the entire Cao County experienced a wave of horse-face skirt craze around the Spring Festival. According to data from the Cao County E-commerce Service Center, so far, sales of Cao County’s Year of the Dragon New Year greeting clothes, mainly horse-faced skirts, have exceeded 300 million yuan. Horse-faced skirts are quite popular on many e-commerce platforms, and their transaction volume has also grown rapidly.

As one of the representatives of traditional costumes, horse-faced skirts have been seen in many Spring Festival galas and stage performances this year, driving a boom in traditional cultural consumption. As market popularity rises, the market for horse-faced skirts has huge room for imagination, attracting countless practitioners who want to make money. Industry insiders analyze that the hot sales of horse-faced skirts are the result of complying with the consumer demand of the times, but the entire market is still at an early stage. How traditional clothing can seek long-term development vitality in the Internet era is a new proposition.

The Chinese Hanfu horse-face skirts are selling like crazy - Image 1

On March 3, people were choosing horse-faced skirts in Cao County, Heze City, Shandong Province. Picture/Visual China

The "hot-selling logic" of horse-faced skirts

In the exhibition hall of several hundred square meters, rows of horse-faced skirts were neatly displayed, each with matching tops and some with matching jackets. At 9 a.m. on the first working day after the Lantern Festival, Lu Wei, a native of Caoxian County, rushed to Meng Xiaoxia's Hanfu exhibition hall, preparing to select dozens of horse-faced skirt samples to take back to Jiaxing.

The staff in the exhibition hall explained the characteristics of each skirt to Lu Wei in great detail. As soon as I got to work after the holiday, there was no shortage of customers coming to the showroom to look at horse-faced skirts.When I was there, I received 50 customers a day. These customers came from all over the world and came here because of the reputation.

Lu Wei has been engaged in the cashmere coat business in Jiaxing for many years. Since last year, he has heard that Haining Xucun has been adding more machines to produce horse-faced skirts, and the entire village's production capacity has been saturated. "Businesses all over the country are selling it, and I want to give it a try." Lu Wei told China News Weekly.

"With the recovery of offline tourism in 2023, horse-faced skirts will become more and more popular, and offline wholesalers from across the country will come to Caoxian County." The sales of Hanfu in Caoxian County have also nearly doubled in just a few years. In 2021, Hanfu sales will reach 4 billion yuan, and in 2023, they will reach 7 billion yuan. As of now, there are 2,282 Hanfu enterprises in Cao County, with nearly 100,000 Hanfu practitioners. Among them, there are about 1,500 horse-face skirt manufacturers, employing about 60,000 people.

The hot phenomenon has been evident since the May Day holiday last year. During the May Day holiday in 2023, the entire Hanfu exhibition hall was already full of people, and it was hard to squeeze in. In just one year, horse-faced skirts became popular in life at an unimaginable speed.

According to industry insiders, the popularity of horse-faced skirts came from an accident. In July 2022, Dior released a mid-length skirt priced at 29,000 yuan. This skirt has overlapping front and rear panels and is called a "new" fashion item that "adopts the iconic Dior silhouette". Taste. Chinese netizens discovered that the skirt was almost identical to the traditional Chinese dress "horse-faced skirt", which sparked heated discussions among netizens.

Many celebrities and bloggers began to consciously wear horse-faced skirts to public events, check in abroad and promote horse-faced skirts on social media platforms. Horse-faced skirts have also become the key to traffic on multiple social media platforms. As of now, there are nearly one million notes related to "Horse Face Skirt" on the Xiaohongshu platform, and the "Horse Face Skirt" Weibo topic has been read more than 100 million times and played on the short video platform.

More and more people are discovering that horse-faced skirts can be worn daily with modern clothing, which is inseparable from the heritage and practicality of horse-faced skirts. Horse-faced skirts have a history of thousands of years. They were called "whirl skirts" in the Song Dynasty. Skirts continued to mature in the Ming Dynasty and occupied a mainstream position. They evolved in the Qing Dynasty and even the Republic of China. According to Hu Xiao, a member of the Chinese costume restoration team, the horse-faced skirt is a relatively mature style of Hanfu and can always keep up with the development of the times. "Even the horse-faced skirts unearthed from a certain ancient tomb have been restored. For contemporary people, there are not many taboos on wearing them. There is no fixed length requirement for these skirts, and they can be made to the ankles or insteps according to their own needs. It is more diversified in terms of matching and can adapt to the times and local conditions."

Many clothing brands have invested in the promotion and improvement of horse skirts very early. "In 2014, we launched the first horse-faced skirt - a five-color horse-faced skirt. In the design, we changed the waistband to a zipper design and added a unified code number. The improved horse-faced skirt is more in line with modern times. People wear it." Qu Jing, vice president of Huimei Group, mentioned that its clothing brands ""Living on the Left" designs and develops more than 80 styles of modern horse-faced skirts. Ten years ago, these horse-faced skirts entered the market with shirts and suits. "Integrating into the daily lives of young people means innovating while inheriting." ".

Transformation while inheriting, this path has also been successfully tested on horse-faced skirts. In the industry, the Hanfu Brand Weaving Department, as a "big player in horse-faced skirts", found a feasible path to sell horse-faced skirts before the rise of this craze. "We have liberated the boundaries and made Hanfu secular and everyday." Xie Linglong, co-founder of the Weaving Department, told China News Weekly that after the Weaving Department was established in June 2020, we tried to convert the horse-faced skirt in Ming-made Hanfu from The original dressing style and usage scenarios were stripped out and started to be mixed and matched with T-shirts in fashion to expand the usage scenarios of the horse skirt, thereby lowering the threshold for consumers to try it for the first time. The team also shot many short videos. In subways, office buildings and cafes, there were models wearing horse-faced skirts to show consumers the practicality of this skirt in modern scenes.

During last year’s Double 11, Taobao Clothing sold more than 730,000 horse-faced skirts, which could fill 105 football fields. Later, Taobao Apparel separated the operation of Chinese-style clothing. The relevant person in charge, Shi Yue, mentioned that the horse-faced skirt is a very good entry point for consumers who do not understand Hanfu. "This is where ordinary people come into contact with Hanfu." The first item."

Last year, about half of the sales of the entire Hanfu market came from horse-faced skirts. According to Li Jie, dean of the School of Fashion at Shandong University of Arts and Crafts, this is not an accidental phenomenon, but the result of the combination of traditional culture and modern fashion. Hanfu culture has gradually moved out of niche circles and begun to reach the masses. "The promotion of commercialization is very important. Traditional culture only has vitality in the process of use."

The Chinese Hanfu horse-face skirts are selling like crazy - Image 2

On February 18, a child went out wearing a horse-faced skirt near the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. Picture/Zhongxin

The sought-after "fabric"

The booming sales of horse-faced skirts are often first noticed by the upstream industry chain.

The main fabric of the best-selling horse skirt on the market is jacquard fabric. This kind of fabric is generally made of high-precision gauze fabric. It depends on the changes in the longitude and latitude of the fabric.Weave the flower pattern out, production capacity is limited.

Chen Jichao, the person in charge of Cao County Kao Fabrics, as a fabric OEM, initially focused on fabrics for stage costumes and performance clothes. Since 2019, customers have been coming to him to buy Hanfu fabrics. The demand for horse skirt fabrics will increase in 2022, and by 2023, this demand will explode. "I used to produce about 2,000 to 3,500 meters of fabric every day and produce more than 1,000 sets of clothes. Now it has increased to 15,000 meters of fabric every day and produced more than 5,000 sets of clothes. Even though I have been increasing production capacity, the supply is still in short supply." Chen Jichao said, Business customers have been increasing and demand has been increasing.

“There is no fabric.” This is a problem mentioned by many interviewees. Yang Wei, general manager of Caoxian Little Swan Clothing Co., Ltd., told China News Weekly that the biggest difficulty at the moment is fabrics. Generally, samples are designed and ordered in the factory for production, which takes at least half a month. In this case, there will be restrictions. Sale.

The shortage of fabric production capacity has become the biggest pain point of this popular business. "Since May Day last year, we saw the popularity of the horse-faced skirt market and began to stock up on supplies." Meng Xiaoxia said that generally speaking, a jacquard machine can weave about 70 to 80 meters of cloth a day to make horse-faced skirts. There are about 20 to 30 pieces. "There are five factories that supply my fabrics. Each factory has an average of forty or fifty machines. The daily production capacity cannot keep up with my sales."

The entire upstream of the industry chain is also expanding production frantically, with many "newcomers" entering the industry. Taking Xucun, Haining, Zhejiang, as an example, horse-faced skirts began to sell well as early as early 2023, and many manufacturers have joined the horse-faced skirt supply chain. According to public reports, there are currently more than 100 textile companies in Xucun Town engaged in the production of horse-faced skirts and new Chinese clothing fabrics. The daily production capacity of fabrics can reach more than 30,000 meters, which can be made into nearly 7,000 horse-faced skirts. However, a year ago, this traditional home textile town mainly produced curtain fabrics, sofa fabrics and wall coverings. Now it has been fully transformed into a horse skirt fabric base.

"From May 2023 to the production of horse-faced skirt fabrics, the number of machines has increased five times, but the production capacity still cannot keep up with the supply." Hang Haihua has been running the fabric business in Xucun, Haining, Zhejiang for more than ten years, and only entered the horse-faced skirt business last year Fabric production. Hang Haihua told China News Weekly that orders have been scheduled until May Day, and many wholesalers and retailers come to ask for fabrics every day.

According to incomplete statistics, there are currently as many as 100 fabric companies connected to upstream source factories in Daji Town, Cao County, and the output of each company is growing. Han Meng, the mayor of Daji Town, said that the supply of fabrics is indeed tight now, with limited production machines and limited production capacity on the market. The industry associations in Caoxian County and Keqiao have been communicating to gradually resolve the imbalance between supply and demand in fabric production.

With both supply and marketing booming, the supply chain is also rapidly upgrading. Chen Jichao discovered that “last month’s equipment may have an upgraded version next month.” Shiyue mentioned that in the early years, Ma MianSkirts target a relatively small group of people, so the construction period will be relatively long. As the market develops, this will force merchants to improve the entire supply chain and shorten the production process cycle, so as to provide consumers with a continuous supply of ready goods.

Cutting, sewing, hemming, ironing, pleating, upper waist... In addition to the difficulties in raw materials, the production process of horse skirt is relatively complicated. Han Meng took Daji Town as an example. There are currently 400 companies selling horse-faced skirts, and 150 million yuan of horse-faced skirts were sold during the Spring Festival. "Thanks to more than ten years of development of the performance clothing industry, Daji Town has gathered all supporting facilities from pattern making, fabrics, tailoring, to printing, sewing, ready-made clothing, etc. We have formed a complete closed loop."

Zhang Longfei, director of the Cao County E-commerce Service Center, recalled that last year he led several leading Hanfu manufacturing companies in Cao County to Shanghai and Zhejiang to learn about new technologies and equipment for the production of horse-faced skirts, and to learn from the leading experience in the production of horse-faced skirts. Look at the mature production chain and advanced technology level.

Are improving technology and expanding production capacity a contradiction for Hanfu manufacturers? As the first weaving company to try to make imitation flowered horse skirts, it tried to use industrial methods to solve the problem at the supply chain end, especially the traditional Yunjin brocade flowering process. Originally, we could only weave 2 to 3 centimeters a day by hand, but now it has been mass-produced. production, solving problems such as mismatched fabric manufacturing and difficulty in pleating.

Li Jie believes that the current hot sales of horse-faced skirts and Hanfu have put forward new production capacity requirements for related companies. Compared with the entire clothing industry, horse-faced skirts are small in size, and brand building needs to increase in size and expand production capacity.

Where is the boundary of "explosion reform"?

"During the Spring Festival this year, one of our best-selling products is a horse-faced skirt in the shape of a phoenix. The idea is taken from the poem 'The blue bird is diligent in looking around'. This is a blue Luan delivering a message to the Queen Mother. Different green yarns are used in the weft to create a gradient effect." Xie Linglong shared the creative source of the popular product with China News Weekly. As traditional clothing, when the structure is similar, the creativity of the clothing needs to be compared. "We will integrate the creative sources and inspiration stories more closely with traditional culture."

In terms of the production process, horse skirt fabrics can only be produced after the original merchants design the patterns and provide them to the fabric factory. These patterns often reflect the originality of the merchants. Li Jie introduced that since the Ming Dynasty, the number of horse-faced skirts has increased to ten panels, and the pleats around the waist have become denser and denser. Each pleat has a different color, and the patterns within the pleats are different. The colors are elegant, like moonlight. , called the "Moonlight Skirt"; in addition, the horse-faced skirt is mainly made of solid-color satin, and various fabrics such as silk and satin can also be used. The colors include black, blue, red, moon white, etc.; in patterns and patterns There are flowers blooming, melons blooming, butterflies playing with peonies, the hall full of gold and jade, etc., which are full of rich cultural atmosphere. "For the use of graphics and names, we have always adhered to the principle that 'if there is a picture, it must be intentional, and if there is an intention, it must be auspicious.'"

in his viewIn the future, the development of horse-faced skirts must adhere to integrity and innovation. Dig out the best parts from museums, historical books, and traditional original materials, and combine them with current domestic and international fashion trends. What's more important is that the dynasty's shapes, colors, and patterns must be able to stand up to scrutiny, and must have sources, explanations, and explanations. They must not just be superficially pleasing to the eye.

In the Hanfu circle, there has always been a dispute over "form". Some Hanfu enthusiasts have higher requirements for the dynasty, style and wearing scene of Hanfu. Xie Linglong recalled that the idea for the first product of the Weaving Department was the deer girl in the Dunhuang murals. At that time, the image was re-created to form the image of a standing person. "At that time, most of the creative ideas were traditional flowers, birds, fish, insects, mountains, rocks, and animals. This product caused a certain amount of controversy. Before this, no merchant had put characters on skirts, and some consumers found it difficult to accept." But subsequent follow-ups like There are more and more products, and consumers are gradually accepting them.

Before Caoxian County entered the Hanfu industry, it mainly produced performance costumes. These costumes did not have high requirements for the production process of the product, let alone brand and design. In 2019, the owner of a well-known Hanfu brand was dissatisfied with the plagiarism of his Hanfu. He directly brought a team of lawyers to Caoxian County and took the Caoxian Hanfu merchant to court at the cost of "not receiving compensation after winning the lawsuit." In the end, the brand won . This case fully exposed Caoxian’s lack of original design capabilities. Relevant people in Caoxian County also said that originality capabilities may be a hidden concern in the development of the Hanfu industry in Caoxian County.

Based on this, merchants are also "making up lessons". Businesses here can be divided into two categories: one is Meng Xiaoxia, who first started working in the performance clothing industry, entered the field of Hanfu in 2017, and has started to get involved in horse-faced skirts in recent years. When producing Hanfu, she discovered the importance of issues such as shape, so she re-learned traditional culture and looked for inspiration from it for design. There is also a category of "outsiders". Taking advantage of the advantages of the industrial chain, many outstanding designers and business owners from other places come to start businesses and find jobs. Chen Long, the manager of Shanhe Jinxiu brand, chose to settle in Daji Town before the Spring Festival this year. His design team currently has more than ten people, all of whom are talented students engaged in original design. In his view, the team’s originality and sales channels are complementary to the industrial advantages of the town.

However, serious plagiarism is a major problem in the current development of the industry. Xie Linglong told China News Weekly that many horse-faced skirt merchants currently don’t pay much attention to intellectual property rights. Intellectual property infringements are relatively common and “we have seen many knockoffs that imitate ours.” He further mentioned that when applying for copyright protection, you can actually only choose to protect the pattern. If someone else slightly changes the structure, it will not be an infringement of intellectual property rights. If you apply for a design patent, the process is very long, usually more than three months.

After the Dior incident in 2022, some people in the industry said, "Neither the 'Horse Face Dress' nor the 'Chinese Flower and Bird Painting' has applied for graphic patents or copyright protection, and it is not obvious thatMainstream fashion culture symbol. If the brand or owner does not apply for intellectual property protection, this cultural element can only be said to be a reference and cannot be defined as 'plagiarism' or 'misappropriation'."

In 2022, the Shanghai Copyright Bureau established the "Shanghai Hanfu Copyright Center" at Donghua University, which is the country's first comprehensive Hanfu copyright service platform. In view of various rights protection pain points for Hanfu original designs, Shanghai Hanfu Copyright Center provides professional services such as copyright registration, rights confirmation, and rights protection for Hanfu designs. According to experts, this is crucial to the development of Hanfu. Li Jie believes that strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights is an important means to protect corporate product innovation.

How to avoid low price involution?

As a traditional garment integrated into daily life, the popularity of the horse-faced skirt has given practitioners unlimited space for imagination. Now, is it possible for the horse-faced skirt to become the most ritualized Hanfu?

In 1981, Princess Diana wore a red embroidered horse skirt to attend her engagement party. The description of this skirt in the news at that time was "Red silk satin Chinese embroidered skirt with chrysanthemum motif" (red silk satin Chinese embroidered skirt with chrysanthemum pattern). This appearance is considered by many practitioners to be an important scene in the development history of horse-faced skirt. This means that the beauty of the horse-faced skirt has reached a consensus in China and the West. “If you want to become a representative piece of clothing, you must be able to empathize around the world, and you must be recognized by others as well as yourself.” Xie Linglong pointed out that the entire industry has not yet reached this stage.

The Shandong Museum once published an article stating that in the Ming Dynasty, women from all walks of life liked to wear horse-faced skirts. The simple Ming Dynasty horse-faced skirts have various patterns and rich meanings. Wearing a horse-faced skirt makes one look dignified, graceful and elegant. This shows that the horse-faced skirt had its greatest popularity.

Judging from market data, horse-faced skirts are on the cusp of commercialization. According to iiMedia Consulting data, the scale of China's Hanfu market continues to rise, reaching 14.47 billion yuan in 2023. The scale of China's Hanfu market is expected to reach about 25 billion yuan in 2027. Analysts believe that the current Hanfu market is still small, accounting for less than 2% of the retail sales of clothing products by units above designated size in China in 2022 (922.26 billion yuan), and there is still considerable room for upside in the future. But what worries Xie Linglong is that as the market explodes and competition becomes increasingly fierce, price wars are inevitable.

"Although sales and sales are much higher than in previous years, profit margins are declining. During the epidemic, profit margins could be 30%, but now they may only be 10%." Meng Xiaoxia mentioned that the production cycle of horse-faced skirts is already long. If profits are The continued decline will put great pressure on merchants.

As early as 2021, a number of well-known Hanfu brands announced the closure of stores. One of them, Lan Ruoting, had a revenue of more than 100 million yuan in 2020. In the view of industry insiders, Lan Ruoting regarded Han asThe price of the service reached the hundred yuan level, setting off a buying craze in the market. However, the price of other brands may be 2 to 3 times the same style. Its founder once said that he used money to do business, but in the end the brand fell on the way forward.

Xie Linglong pointed out that there are currently many printed horse-faced skirts on the market, and the entry barrier is very low, so the prices will increase. However, due to the relatively limited production capacity of jacquard horse skirts, as market demand increases, the price may be relatively stable and will not be affected quickly. "The development of Hanfu is cyclical. This is a very young industry. If it continues to involute, it will obviously be detrimental to the industry."

Different from modern clothing, traditional clothing such as horse-faced skirts always have a difficult choice of path: Should we follow the "fast fashion" model or the "light luxury" route?

"The development of the clothing industry often has two directions, either large and comprehensive, or small and beautiful." In Li Jie's observation, as a single product, the horse-faced skirt is bound to be refined and serialized in the future. At present, the market price of horse-faced skirts is basically in the range of 100 yuan to 3,000 yuan, and most of them are still in the low-end price range. He believes that with the participation of young and middle-aged female consumer groups and the intervention of leading domestic fashion groups, high-end products resulting from brand development and quality improvement are the inevitable direction. He emphasized that high-end products that carry traditional clothing craftsmanship, use high-end silk fabrics, and can meet festival celebrations and business etiquette will become a development trend.

"Living on the Left" has always positioned itself as an affordable luxury brand. Many of the horse-faced skirts it designs and develops cost more than 10,000 yuan. Most of these styles are the same styles shown in international conferences such as Paris Fashion Week. "We don't want to follow the trend, we are more concerned about how to enhance the cultural value of the brand." Qu Jing mentioned.

In the entire market, the price of horse-faced skirts is basically around 100 yuan. The price of horse-faced skirts produced by the Weaving Department is not high, ranging from two to three hundred yuan. Xie Linglong believes that this is a structural problem. Hanfu is objectively more expensive than fashion in terms of production technology and fabric cost. However, if it is priced according to the pricing multiple of fashion, a skirt may cost six to seven hundred yuan. Users The threshold for trying to invest has been greatly raised, and the final result is that no one cares. "First of all, we need to have the quantity, and use industrialization to make more consumers accept the price and wear it."

Many interviewees also believe that in the development of traditional clothing such as horse-faced skirts, it is even dangerous to pursue quantity rather than quality, and may sacrifice the reputation of the product. Han Meng also realized that the next step for the development of Daji Town in Caoxian County is to brand and move towards high-end. "At present, the industrial development in big market towns is still small and scattered, mainly based on families, and there is a lack of leading enterprises. We are guiding enterprises to register their own trademarks and brands to prepare for the next step of building local high-end enterprises." Han Meng said frankly that Hanfu several The market size of tens of billions is much smaller than that of regular servers. The most important thing now is to make the cake bigger, and at the same time, we must also consider making the industry stronger.