World Clothes for Equal Dignity

 

Chinese Collection

HumanDHS is primarily grounded in academic work. We are independent of any religious or political agenda. However, we wish to bring academic work into "real life." HumanDHS aims at increasing respect for equal dignity for all human beings in the world. This is our core value, in line with Article 1 of the Human Rights Declaration that states that every human being is born with equal dignity (that ought not be humiliated). Our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project is part of this quest. It envisions increasing respect for cultural variety in this world. When we look around today, we all wear more or less the same, Western, clothes.

Our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project is part of our quest to build bridges from social science to other areas of life. When we look around today, we all wear more or less the same clothes, Western clothes. We, the HumanDHS group, believe that cultural diversity should receive more respect and attention, which, in the case of clothing, means that the diverse cultural heritage in clothing that we find around the world should be valued more and made more visible in day-to-day wear. At the current juncture in hisotry, traditional clothes are typically worn only to festive occasions. We wish to integrate this heritage into future-orientated innovative and creative design for day-to-day use.

An important point for HumanDHS is to deconstruct tradition, in this case traditional clothes design. We do not wish to accept everything as it is. Many aspects do not bolster our aim - equal dignity for all. Chinese footbinding is a drastic example of how women were intentionally mutilated and handicapped in order to fit into an image of feminity as cuteness and helplessness. We do not wish to preserve those aspects of tradition. Many clothes for women, both traditional and modern, carry "footbinding" aspects, in contrast to clothing made for males. Women typically can not breathe freely or walk forcefully. Corsets created a wasp waist that made women almost faint, Japanese kimonos and to a certain extent also Chinese qipaos have similar effects and hinder free movement, as do many modern clothes. Modern shoes make women walk in ways that signal fragility. Feminine beauty, elegance, and decency are conceptualized, in ways of méconnaissance and naturalization (Barthes, Bourdieu, Foucault), as lack of forcefulness. We wish to encourage women to opt for new definitions of beauty and elegance, definitions that lend them strength and power.

Clearly, future-oriented design entails more than just design. It means also awareness for fair trade, respect for the people who produce products, in this case clothes, and more personalized relationships between products and users.

The Chinese Qipao (Ch'ipau) is one of the most typical, traditional costumes for Chinese women. It is also known as cheongsam. Cantonese, the main dialect of Guangzhou (once called Canton) and surrounding areas, introduced the word cheongsam into English during British colonial days - it means "long dress."

The Manchu came in the early 17th century from the North to China and overthrew the Ming Dynasty. They organized people into "banners" (qi) and called them "banner people" (QiRen, which the Manchus were often called). The standard one-piece dress worn by Manchu women was thus dubbed "qipao" or "banner dress." In the 1911 Revolution toppled the rule of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty and since the 1950’s, the Qipao has gradually exited Chinese women’s life. It was regarded as representing an outdated ideology. This lasted nearly half a century and this Chinese art almost vanished into history. However, currently, it experiences a revival. The Chinese government has invested great efforts in promoting traditional culture and Qipao gradually enters Chinese people’s daily and social life. In recent years especially younger women are more and more attracted to Qipaos. The cost ranges from 50 to 5000 US dollars. Though ready-to-wear Qipaos can be found everywhere, women still tend to have hand-made Qipaos as they believe that these dresses stand not only for tradition, but also for fashion. Making a Qipao is a comprehensive art. The tailor needs to take measures, choose material and decide the design according to the customer’s own style.

Exploring Chinese clothes for our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project (please click in the middle of the picture to see more pictures):

Exploring Chinese clothes for our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project, Shanghai 2005:
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Exploring Chinese clothes for our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project, 2006:
Blouse produced by Huzhou Qianer Dress Company Limited, No. 63, Fenghuang Road, Tel. 0572 2125270, 2125290, Fax: 0572 2125270, qianer2125270@vip.sina.com
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Please meet Liu (Shanghai, April 2006),
a potential tailor for our World Clothes for Equal Dignity project.
Please click in the middle of the picture to see it larger.


 

Links

Shanghai Tang

Xavier
Like Anthony Xavier Edwards, the only foreign designer resident in Shanghai to launch a collection here. Anthony, an Aussie, has lived in Shanghai for five years after spending time in Japan and other Asian countries. He began by designing and selling beautiful silk scarves, which are still part of the business.
No shy person, Anthony's incredible sense of humour and extrovert personality dramatize his designs and make him a well-known character about town. He's even done a local TV commercial for chocolates.
"Life wasn't meant to be easy," as the old maxim reminds us, but Anthony has toughed it out here. Local until now, he intends to start exporting Xavier label garments which are he says: "As good as you'll get anywhere."
Please read the entire article at http://app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/history/00-06-06/c08-chance.html.