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July 10, 2020

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Classic Chinese garments revived in mini-museum

Lu Fang, a 52-year-old tailor who came to Shanghai in 1992 from Ningbo, has turned his workshop on Kaixuan Road into a mini-
museum featuring items from the early Chinese garment industry. More than 100 traditional Chinese cheongsam and qipao suits, old sewing machines and many other vintage items from the early 20th century are on display.

Lu regards himself as a Hongbang tailor, a career that can be traced to the end of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Hongbang, literally meaning red group, refers to tailors who made clothes for Westerners at the time.

The name ‘red’ is believed to have come from the hair color of Dutch people and later was generally applied to all Westerners.

The first generation of Hongbang tailors started in Ningbo and further developed in Shanghai.

They made the first Western suit and first Chinese tunic suit, known in the West as Mao suit because of late Chairman Mao’s fondness for the style, and opened the first Western-style clothing shop in Shanghai in 1896.

Yet as a successor of Hongbang tailors, Lu told Shanghai Youth News that he feels pity that nowadays too many people are keen to wear luxury international brands while traditional cheongsam, qipao and Mao suit have lost their popularity.

To revive the Chinese style outfit, Lu has spent his spare time collecting vintage items of Shanghai-style culture, inviting young people to try on the cheongsam or qipao in his shop and take photos free of charge, and giving free lectures in the communities.

If you go

Address: 1408 Kaixuan Road in Changning District

Hours: Monday to Friday and Sunday. The shop will be closed from July 11 to August 9 for summer vacation.


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