The Chinese people are reclaiming the discourse on Hanfu horse-face skirts

The Chinese people are reclaiming the discourse on Hanfu horse-face skirts

The Spring Festival of the Year of the Dragon is approaching. Wearing Hanfu and celebrating the New Year is becoming a lifestyle favored by young people.

In recent years, the Hanfu track has continued to heat up. It stood out from the "Three Bankrupt Sisters" (JK and Lolita) and embarked on a path of growing and independent development. The emergence of phenomenal hot-selling products such as the "Horse Face Skirt" has pushed the market to an unprecedented new level: Hanfu continues to be eclectic and secular, turning from a niche hobby into a daily wear for many people - a large number of original designs and national fashion brands have also emerged one after another in this process.

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But just over a year ago, the Hanfu market was a different story.

In July 2022, the internationally renowned fashion brand Dior released a mid-length skirt priced at 29,000 yuan. Some Chinese netizens discovered that this skirt is almost exactly the same as the traditional Chinese dress "Horse Face Skirt" - the mutual absorption of different cultures is understandable, but Dior did not mention the "source of inspiration" in the product introduction, instead calling it a " The "new" fashion item using the iconic Dior silhouette quickly sparked controversy in the market and became a hot search topic.

The "Dior Horse Skirt Controversy" has made many people sad: It is something passed down from our ancestors, but the right to speak is not in the hands of the Chinese themselves.

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social media screenshotPicture quoted from Shanghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles

Fortunately, the Chinese got up wherever they fell.

The rapid rise of domestic horse-faced skirts not only drives the popularity of the entire market, but also provides a "horse-faced skirt solution" for Hanfu: on the basis of retaining traditional design and craftsmanship, new elements, new designs, and new craftsmanship are added, Realize the combination of traditional culture and modern life. Compared with the price of nearly 30,000 yuan for big foreign brands, Chinese consumers can now buy domestic horse-faced skirts for 1% of the price. Everyone can wear the "new Chinese style" on their bodies, and the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain have also been revitalized.

Behind the popularity of horse-faced skirts, the tears and laughter in Hanfu are equally worthy of attention.

Horse-faced skirt above C position

As one of the main skirt styles for women in ancient China, the horse-faced skirt took shape as early as the Song Dynasty and was especially popular during the Ming Dynasty. There are four skirt doors at the front and back of the horse-faced skirt. The two skirts overlap each other and are pleated on the sides. The smooth surface formed by the overlapping skirt doors in the middle is commonly known as "horse-face". Horse-faced skirts of the Ming Dynasty were often decorated with ruffles, with various patterns and rich meanings: for example, dragons and phoenixes symbolize good luck and a good marriage, peonies represent wealth, and chrysanthemums represent longevity.

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Picture source CCTV News

Judging from public data, both in terms of sales and popularity, the horse-faced skirt is a well-deserved C-position in the current Hanfu market.

On Tmall Double 11 in 2023, Taobao sold more than 730,000 horse-faced skirts, which can fill 105 football fields. Horse-faced skirts were selected as the "Top Ten Products of Taobao in 2023"; Pinduoduo data shows that since 2023, horse-faced skirts have Face skirts have become the most popular hot-selling product for those born in 1995 and 2000, with sales of many hot-selling items reaching one million yuan; according to data, the transaction volume of the specialty clothing Hanfu category increased by 300% year-on-year in January 2024. Among them, the horse-faced skirt is the most popular.

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Picture source store "Weaving Division"

Why is the person standing in position C wearing a horse-faced skirt?

Many people believe that this is a process that combines the right time, location, people and people.

For example, the horse-faced skirt of the Ming Dynasty is one of its major features that is practical and versatile. CCTV News once introduced: "In the summer of the Ming Dynasty, a long gown, a horse skirt, and a refreshing vest would complete a fashionable outfit." Horse-faced skirts are also easy to integrate into modern life: T-shirts, shirts, cardigans, sweaters... can all be "combined" with horse-faced skirts; double bows, back cross knots, one-word knots, single-ear knots... light ties You can figure out various ways to play.

According to Song Rui (pseudonym), a Hanfu enthusiast, the shape of the horse-faced skirt is biased towards the ancient style, while at the same time it is compatible with modern elements, making it beautiful, elegant and trendy. In addition, compared with other clothing, horse-faced skirts are suitable for more people and are compatible with more body shapes and sizes. Of course, "the 'plagiarism incident' of the Dior horse-face skirt has also expanded the popularity of the horse-face skirt." Song Rui believes that, coupled with the current celebrity sales and the revival of traditional culture, friends around are willing to start with the horse-face skirt. "Hanfu.

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Introduction page of Dior's "Horse Face Dress" Web page screenshot

The Hanfu brand "Weaving Division" founded in 2020 has broken the circle with its horse-faced skirt products. Xie Linglong, co-founder of the Weaving Department, recalled to that in the first half of 2022, the hot market was "Han elements", while the rapid heating of horse-faced skirts occurred between the second half of 2022 and 2023. In Xie Linglong's view, as a skirt, the horse-faced skirt can be easily matched with other clothing. While maintaining the basic structure of Hanfu, it can also add more daily attributes.

The general manager of Taobao Apparel looks at the mountains and looks at the said that the distinctive feature of the horse-faced skirt is that it is very versatile and universal, and it can be worn by anyone. "Netizens are jokingly chatting. Zhang Yi is also wearing it, right?" Kanshan added that the popularity of horse-faced skirts should also have supply-side reasons. The focus of the horse-faced skirt process is mainly on the complexity of fabric and printing. Many original merchants have made many innovations in fabric production. For example, the Weaving Department has industrialized the traditional Yunjin brocade craftsmanship. Originally, skilled workers could only weave 2-3 centimeters a day, but now they can achieve mass production.

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Social media screenshots

The hidden pain and changes behind the secularization of Hanfu

"My father is a senior engineer specializing in textiles. In 2020, I held up a horse-faced skirt and asked him what kind of fabric this skirt was made of. He didn't know. On the contrary, after seeing it, my grandma said it was He also told me that when he and my grandfather got married, this fabric was used for the quilt. At that time, I felt that there were too many treasures in our Chinese history. Most of them were sleeping in museums and did not appear. in our daily lives."

Recalling the past, Xie Linglong told

"Only people of my grandma's generation know about intangible cultural heritage crafts such as brocade and makeup. My father is a textile engineer, and he didn't recognize it. At that time, I felt that if we didn't inherit and carry forward intangible cultural heritage crafts, many things would be lost. It will disappear into the long history in the hands of our generation or the next generation. At that moment, I felt that this might be something that our generation should do."

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Picture source CCTV News

Xie Linglong said that before the emergence of industrial fabrics, a weaver could only produce 3 centimeters of fabrics a day. However, due to the disappearance of market demand, such ingenious craftsmanship was once on the verge of disappearing. "What is even more sad is that many of the first and second batches of national intangible cultural heritage masters have passed away. Although the transformed and industrially produced makeup fabrics can produce 60-100 meters per day. But if there is no market Demand, where can it go?"

From the "wave" of the horse-faced skirt to the "sea" of Hanfu, many changes are taking place today.

Xie Linglong told that many years ago, although discussions related to Hanfu were already very lively in film and television dramas, news and hot searches, they did not form a transformation in market consumption. In his opinion, one reason is that the products at that time were not conducive to the promotion of Hanfu. In the past, many Hanfu products were 3-piece sets, 4-piece sets, or 5-piece sets. The skirts were extremely long and cumbersome to wear. But one of the charms of the horse-face skirt is that it is very simple to wear and very versatile.

"Hanfu fans" like Song Rui also feel this change: the previous Hanfu was a bit similar to JK uniforms and Lolita clothes. Most of the time, they were worn during campus activities and comic exhibitions; now Hanfu is OK Wearing it to work - Thanks to the improvement and optimization of the manufacturing method, eating hotpot while wearing Hanfu is no longer a problem. Song Rui found that there are obviously more people wearing Hanfu in the subway, shopping malls, and scenic spots.

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Before the Spring Festival, many places launched "Wearing Hanfu to enter the park for free" Picture source social media

"The demographic structure of the consumer market is changing. The post-95s and post-00s generations have become an absolute main force that cannot be ignored in today's consumer market." Kanshan, general manager of Taobao Apparel, believes that if we pay attention to the new generation of young people and their growth background, It can be seen that they grew up in an era when China's international influence is constantly rising. As far as they can see, China and Chinese civilization are spreading overseas."Their national pride and self-confidence are very strong, and they are more willing to express their collective identity as Chinese through clothing."

Another change is that some celebrities have begun to take the initiative to bring "domestic products". Under traditional business logic, celebrities need advertising fees to wear clothes of a specific designer or brand. This is a "business behavior." The change now is that many people are not only performing arts practitioners, but also lovers of Hanfu and Chinese style. They are also willing to convey corresponding concepts to fans and audiences. "Every time a celebrity wears Hanfu, it will further expand the Hanfu community," Kanshan said.

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Xu Jiao wears Hanfu at the graduation ceremony. Picture source social media

Looking for the next "horse-faced skirt": those unanswered questions and challenges

Hanfu, which has been popularized by horse-faced skirts, has increasingly become a racetrack for major platforms to compete.

On December 26 last year, Taobao Apparel added "Hanfu" as a secondary category. Hanfu will be on an equal footing with "Wedding Dress/Cheongsam/Dress". Under the secondary category of Hanfu, there are also five new leaf categories of Hanfu tops, Hanfu trousers, Hanfu suits, Hanfu skirts and Hanfu dresses for merchants to check. This means that the Hanfu products sold by merchants no longer need to be stuffed into major categories such as "women's clothing" and "ethnic clothing", and will reach consumers more independently and accurately.

Regarding this matter, Taobao Apparel General Manager Kanshan exclusively responded to that Taobao’s trading system uses “category x attributes” to define the differences between products. The category adjustment of Hanfu will bring about all aspects Changes, such as supply abundance, shopping guide experience, delivery time, etc. "Now we have just completed the segmentation and upgrade. After a while, consumers will find that Hanfu's shopping guide experience and rich supply will be qualitatively different from before."

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Picture source WeChat public account "Taobao Clothing"

Although such overall adjustments are relatively rare in the industry at present, Taobao Clothing is considered to have run relatively early. However, Kanshan still feels that Taobao Clothing could have acted earlier. In his eyes, the Hanfu consumer market is now "jumping" from "crouching to taking off" - but this takeoff will not occur in 2023, but in 2019. As the launch platform for many Hanfu products, Hanfu is still growing at a double-digit rate in 2023 on Double 11 - which is becoming increasingly rare for the Taobao clothing platform with annual sales of nearly one trillion yuan.

From an external perspective, whether it is the rise of national fashion brands or the bottom-level adjustments to the platform, it can be seen that "making the cake bigger" is still the main theme of the current Hanfu market. With the secularization of Hanfu, the right to speak about the fashion of our ancestors is returning to the Chinese people themselves - but where the stage lights cannot shine, real problems and issues still exist - some problems may not necessarily be solved It is simpler than inheriting traditional crafts.

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Picture source social media

The logic of “super single product” is profoundly changing the e-commerce market. From the perspective of consumers, merchants and platforms, an important reason why horse-faced skirts have emerged from the fashion industry is because they are versatile and versatile, making them a super item. If Hanfu wants to continue to break out of the industry, it must find the next "horse-faced skirt." From designers, manufacturers, to marketers, people not only need materials from their ancestors, but also find inspiration in the new era. This is a new test question.

In the process of Hanfu being secularized and becoming bigger and stronger, the segmented needs of different groups will also be enlarged: as long as some people think that the format, materials and sizes of Hanfu must be consistent with the unearthed cultural relics; some people will think that as long as the Hanfu is The right lapel collar is in line with history, other patterns and colors are availableto relax; then naturally some people think that the basic shape should be retained, and the rest should be beautiful and beautiful, as long as you like it - even if you get a tattoo of Peppa Pig, it doesn't matter...

How to understand and balance the needs of different users so that everyone "does not disturb each other" is a problem that both merchants and platforms need to face.

In addition, Hanfu-related standards and industry standards are yet to be released. Only by gradually standardizing and normalizing an industry can businesses that are truly interested in this industry survive and work with consumers to inherit and carry forward traditional culture - "Hanfu" is about breaking the circle. But when a piece of Hanfu is sold, its essence is still a commodity, and the bottom line cannot be broken.

The right to speak about horse-faced skirts may be returning to the hands of the Chinese. But in the long march to revive Hanfu, we may have only taken the first step.

"When every 24- to 35-year-old woman around me has a piece of Hanfu, Hanfu will have initially completed its user penetration. I am very much looking forward to the next two to three years, when the Hanfu market will grow by 5 times to 10 times. Times the market changes, it has the same size as Taobao clothing." At the end of the interview, Kanshan said, "Clothing is an important display for ordinary people to express externally, and it has always had a strong connection with cultural identity and cultural self-confidence. . The rapid development of Hanfu in recent years is not only the changes in aesthetics and supply of the entire clothing industry, but also the choice of every ordinary person."