The Modern Shanghai and its Style
China. What can I say? The most alien place I have ever been. Perhaps because it has been closed off from the rest of the world to a certain extent, beside from the western influence of Starbucks, KFC, and Versace, everything is so innately "Chinese". Now I know what you must be thinking, what a stupid statement Tayah, "if you're in Italy of course it's gonna be Italian". In most countries, global influence, cultural melding, and lets be honest, a shared history (I'm looking at you commonwealth conquests) makes most major hubs melting pots. Though Art Deco buildings along The Bund are a nod back to western occupation from the 19th century, and from an economic standpoint, international companies now occupy the modern centre, Shanghai does stand alone and man oh man, it is booming.
Close your eyes and dream up what the future will be like, if you open your eyes in Shanghai, you are there. Skyscrapers are as far as the eyes can see both across the city and high up into the heavens, and my goodness, there is electronic stimulous everywhere. Everything is switched ON. Screens are on the metro, as well as projected onto buildings, in shops, and even in taxis. And some stereotypes are true, phones are on hand (and in hand) ready to snap the next selfie and immediately load onto the Chinese version of Facebook: RenRen. Everyone and everything is connected. It's moving, progressing, and growing at a staggering rate, and if you blink, you will be left behind, for better or for worse. The outskirts of the city remind me of some futurtisic dystopian society, like what is depicted in the film Brazil. On the side of the freeway, with nothing else about, 10 identical buildings go up at the same time, no doubt housing people who have been moved out of the city centre to make way for modern expansions. And I drove from Shanghai to Nanjing, which is a 31/2hr. drive, and we hit random settlements of high-rises the entire way there. How can this constant germination last? I guess only time will tell!
But I digress, Shanghai style is most definitely influenced by this technological boom and 'switched on element', i.e. pop culture! Cartoons, Disney, and within that, an almost childlike/childish humor (for the good and the slightly weird) is reflected in both dress for men and women. The fashion is playful, colorful, and makes a statement.
The Sprouting Flowers Craze
That's right, men, women, and children alike are purchasing little plastic plant hair clips and wearing them with pride! They're cheap (take it from a buyer), can be purchased on street corners throughout the city, and come in an assortment of different plant species.
The Chinese love a cartoon, and especially anything Disney (as a Disney fan I can relate but they go above and beyond). When I first arrived in the city, I went for a wander and sure enough came across the Mickey Mouse garden, the gateway to the Disney Store (there is a designated waiting line to enter and everything). They LOVE these characters and make them cool. Many brands have Disney themed clothing lines, some have the correct licensing but I bet not all do. Nevertheless, you walk into the mall and bam, childhood heros are sprawled across shirts and dresses.
Hard and Soft
Another trend for women is the balance between geometric lines and shapes with feminine patterns and materials: flowers, pastel colors, and chiffon. It makes for a modern twist on classically effeminate designs.
I found a super classy company, western name: Exception de Mixmind started by Chinese designer Ma Ke. The clothing and general design of the shop is urban yet chic, while keeping a soft feminine feel throughout, so lovely! Here's the link to the website, http://www.mixmind.com/pad/index.html but of course it's all in Chinese. Take a look!
People have fun with their clothes and accessories in Shanghai, anything goes! And if one thing is clear, fashion is certainly not oppressed in this communist nation. So get inspired, be playful, enjoy what you wear, and make a statement!
Over the upcoming months, China will play a definite role in my website so more tips, guides, and inspirations to come!
Oh and as I mentioned the Metro:
Tayah's Tip: Heading to Shanghai? Be sure to travel on the metro! The metro map is incredibly easy to follow, and all the signs and stops are in English. To purchase tickets, head to one of the machines, press the english option, and simply follow the directions. Once on the metro, the stops are not only lit up on a map, but a voice tells you which stop you are approaching. What's more, when you are wandering about Shanghai on ground level, the metro stops are well signposted with the number of the line leaving from that station displayed. It makes for a fun adventure!
Xie Xie (Thank you)!