A collection of images titled “A Lady of Tang Dynasty Eats Tangyuan” has become a hot topic on Chinese social media. The plump woman wears a bun and hanfu -the traditional dress of the Han Chinese- and looks lustfully after the sweet dumpling dessert, but dare not eat it. The collection of images has received a great deal of praise. The model is 38-year-old fashion designer Luojia Ao. She recently opened a hanfu store called Jingyutang of Cultural Symbol that has achieved outstanding annual sales of RMB 2.8 million (USD 0.42 million).
In 2013 Luojia Ao just happened to help her friend design hanfu embroidered dresses. She started selling the dresses on Taobao, an e-commerce platform where many young Chinese designers launch unique labels by taking advantage of cost-friendly, local manufacturing. At first, their output was large and lacking an appropriate sales channel, so the designer was forced to sell her goods at a reduced price. Finally, after much hard work, Luojia Ao made her first 500 piece bulk sale.
In 2016, Luojia Ao opened an offline store to bolster brand identity, an investment that cost her RMB 0.6 million (USD 0.1 million). Luojia chalked this up to the fact that the hanfu – at that time – wasn’t a commonly accepted form of dress, keeping her profits lower than costs.
After having a baby, she found it increasingly difficult fit into clothes. To relieve this bit of pain, she believed that women should have larger clothing sizes available to them. Disregarding the team’s opposition, she designed a plus-size hanfu. “In fact, I am optimistic about my life. People believe only beautiful women are fit to wear hanfu, and fat girls should not. However, I don’t mind, I believe that fat girls also have the right to be popular and beautiful.”
The growing taste for Chinese traditional clothing
Luojia accidentally became a huge trend, her popularity has promoted a deeper understanding of Chinese traditional culture in the mainstream. In the future, she hopes to make more people like hanfu and traditional culture through her Taobao store. She stated, “Chinese people are very aware of some popular festivals, but there are some China traditional festivals that people don’t know, such as
the Flower Festival, which is important and symbolizes the growth of all things.”
“Monkey King: Hero Is Back” – the highest grossing film in China upon its release – is also experiencing a cultural resurgence thanks to Luojia Ao. She has designed the peripheral products and purchased the copyright for several hundred thousand RMB. Luojia stated, “There are some national and traditional cultures that cannot be discarded.” In this way, she wants her clothes to teach people all over the world something about China.