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The Fashion-forward Elderly in China

Every once in a while, we stumble across little gems while browsing through the net. This article, which talks about how one photographer finds inspiration and novelty in the every day clothes of elderly Chinese, is one such gem.

Here’s our attempt at translating this interesting article, for your reading pleasure 🙂 Enjoy!

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Wearing pajamas, plastic bags, and copycat brands, these photographs of  unique street wear is the work of Raquel, a foreigner living in Guangzhou.

For 3 years, she has been in the old city of Guangzhou, plying its streets and markets to capture fashion-forward photos. To capture these photos, Raquel doesn’t photography the young, but the elderly. 

“I am not interested in young people, Most of them will only follow the trend and wear similar things. Old people spend very little money on clothes but exhibit a real sense of fashion. ”  

Raquel says that there are many design inspirations for luxury brands, all inspired by the local streets of China. 

Narration by Raquel:

My name is Raquel and I am from a small village in Spain. I am a fashion trend analyst and stylist who has lived in Guangzhou for 4 years.  Since 2015, I have started to shoot elderly people in Guangzhou Street. This project is called “520”. I originally prepared to shoot 520 photos, Little did I expect to capture more and more shots, and now I have about one or two thousand.  “520” means “I love you” in China. I want to record my love for China through my works.  I live in Haizhu District, the oldest and most vibrant area in Guangzhou.

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I took my first work at this butcher shop. This auntie’s sleeve is the coolest fashion accessory I’ve ever seen in my life! I have seen many designers use cuff elements in the professional field, but this aunt obviously does not pay attention to fashion. For her, wearing sleeves are simply to prevent her arms from getting dirty. 

I remember that she looked at me fiercely at me that time. I took the photos quickly and that’s when my series started.  I only photograph old people and not young people. Young people will only follow the trend and dress too similarly, and are not interesting.  Old people are not like us, they don’t know what fashion is, they only care about spending less money, and keep their clothes practical and comfortable. The result is very creative. 

Fashion Elderly China

Chinese young people don’t care about the elderly, they love to buy luxury brand names, which makes me feel very sad.  Because in my opinion, these famous brands may be getting inspiration from the Chinese elderly! 


NUMBER 1: If you want to mix and match, do it boldly!

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Older women love to mix and match, and I call them “Matching Queens.”  They wear plaids, stripes, floral patterns, animal prints, all crazy elements together. The more vivid the color the better! They can even layer the colours. Is n’t it similar to the recent trends that Gucci has become popular for? 

Fashion Elderly China U China Travel

I also like the traditional elements of China. I have been to the Miao village and saw the women in the village hand-embroidered and dyed the cloth by the river. These crafts are so special, I really hope that they will remain forever.

Fashion Elderly China U China Travel

As for the men, I call them “fashionable old boys.” They don’t mind. I even saw an uncle who seemed to wear a women’s top in order to match the lace elements on the umbrella.


NUMBER 2: Become a sleeping beauty on the streets

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Remember the pajamas that were popular in the last two years? The inspiration may be from China. When I came to China, I discovered that people will wear their actual pajamas out in the streets. In my hometown, no one is doing this. 

There is a series in my work called “Sleeping Beauty”, as the people sleep very well anywhere in Guangzhou Street.  Once, I was shopping in a store, and the clerk fell asleep in the middle of the store. I waited for half an hour to wait for her to wake up and check out. Guangzhou was very hot in summer, and the uncles turned the T-shirt into a roll. 


NUMBER 3: Do It Yourself

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The towel on their heads are used to wipe sweat.  Put it on the head, shoulders and neck, and becomes the best summer accessory. Plastic is also a common Chinese element. 

Fashion Elderly China

Plastic coats and handbags has only just became a trend in the fashion circles, but it is very common in China. People make plastic bags into hats, cloaks, skirts, and trousers to protect them from the rain.

NUMBER 4: Cute copycats

Fashion Elderly China

In China, everyone has the opportunity to wear a “brand name.” I usually also scour for some cute knockoffs in the clothing market. Most of them are cheap, and with some funny re-creations.

Many of these people don’t even know that they are wearing ‘branded’ goods, which I find most interesting. 

In my photos, most people don’t know that I am shooting them, some people will smile, some people are more serious. I recorded their status as well.  Behind every trendy fashion brand, there are designers, stylists, and strategies whom credit is given. The elderly in these streets, they have nothing, and this is the reality. 

I usually make designs for designers and magazines, and have even collected 105 pairs of uniquely designed glasses. I must wear them when I go out, otherwise I feel like I am not wearing clothes. Sometimes when people see that I dress very extravagantly, they would think that I am a fashionista, and very snobbish.  

In reality, I am very simple, what I wear is simply to express my personality, and I am no different from the Matching Queens on the street.

All images and words are from https://bit.ly/2Mz67s0 

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