LE GEEK, C’EST CHIC
Beijing’s streetstyle may not yet have attained that snazzy Tokyo coolness, but an evolution from Minnie Mouse scrunchies (for women mainly) is most certainly underway. From gothic punk to bowtie-chic, the male population is definitely creating its own individual style – as opposed to letting it be defined by their girlfriend’s not-so-tote bag which they still carry around (whether this is to be considered gentlemanly or not, I leave up to you).
The best places for trend spotting in the city, for me at least, remain the more artsy, fashionably rocking area around Subway Line 2 where many live music venues and small funky art galleries are situated, and Sanlitun. Bear in mind the 2007 words of ever-on-top guru Anna Wintour, “An Oscar de la Renta ball gown can be fashionable, but so can a pair of blue jeans.”
Three examples (in this case a good friend comes in handier than my expat neighbor) to illustrate: A Client Relations Manager for a very well-known “geographic” publication, a graphic cartoon artist and a full-fledged women’s wear designer. Floating zen, British posh (Harris Tweed anyone?) and fitted self-design. Three men and some massive sass – in their own words of course.
Zhong Liang is a self-proclaimed fan of the Southeast Asia trend, featuring loose harem pants, long Cora Kemperman-like vests and tight, uebertight, tanktops. Loose, relaxed and "suiyi" (or in plain English “to one’s liking”), are his keywords of choice for his daily get-up, more often than not of no particular brand, by cappuccino day and by Old Fashion night.
Take the third example of Mario Duyuchen then. Duyuchen, a designer of cool high-street women’s wear, tends to dress himself in home-made creations, mostly inspired by fujie/retro and jingdian (the classics). As far as the latter go, Duyuchen prefers his shirts and pants to be fitted, and often with a minor detail or accessory – ranging from flap cap to quirky bow tie to Asian print scarf to Japanese imported zipper.
Graphic artist (pictured above hanging out in Beijing's hutongs) Li Liang then, usually opts for a more shufu or “comfortable” outfit on his Beijing-style traffic jam-packed way to work, but pulls out all the British country stops by night. Sophisticated after dusk is his current choice of gear: Checked shirts, bowties, all mix ‘n match British “country style” (One very well-known American style-blogger slash entrepreneur in “the Jing” named Nels Frye often embodies the epitome of this trend.)
Scouring the streets of China’s capital for explicit trends can prove less-than-easy, as in a rapidly developing city such as this, anything and everything goes. The major upside to this attitude then, in my humble opinion that is, is how the quirkiness and outrageousness are being put back into fashion. Think 1970s and 80s; minus the hair. You are what you eat; well, I think you are what you wear. Fashion is supposed to be an expression of who you are, with no one else able to “judge” your taste. Wang to Wu, rocker to “raggedy” eco, chinos to Chanel and Thai pants to Tom Ford; it’s a complete mishmash of happily clashing individuals here. Vivienne would love it.
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