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Chilly feelings toward thermals are thawing

By Gan Tian  (China Daily)

09:48, January 10, 2013

(China Daily)

Thermal underwear is a fashion don't in China - or, at least it has been.

Fashionistas' frosty feelings toward the winter wear are thawing. And this shift has heated up as the country is frozen by the coldest winter in nearly three decades.

The hippest used to regard people who wear thermals, called qiuku in Chinese, as lame and corny. That's partly because thestyles and colors are, well, boring.

This disdain for qiuku is said to have been popularized by Su Mang, known as the country's "devil wearing Prada", who heads Harper's Bazaar.

On the talk show A Date with Luyu in 2008, she recalled accompanying high-level representatives from Trend's Media Group to New York City and discovered they were clad in thermals.

She bitterly derided them for being so unfashionable. She believed - incorrectly - that thermals weren't worn outside of China and that wearing them cost her compatriots face, she said.

Su would also chastise employees for wearing qiuku in the office and demanded they take them off if they were caught, she told audiences.

"I won't allow people around me to wear garish qiuku," she said on the talk show.

The fashion icon later explained she was half joking when she regaled her audience with these stories. But the show's reach had, nonetheless, convinced Chinese that qiuku were taboo.

This concept is changing five years later. Thermals are becoming a popular topic as China is frozen by its coldest winter in nearly three decades.

People began to warm to qiuku when A-list film star Chen Kun posted on Sina Weibo, a micro blog service that's China's answer to Twitter: "There used to be a kind of cold called: 'I forgot my qiuku'."

At the same time, such big labels as Gucci, Givenchy and Channel started to market thermals and comparable apparel.

People in some Chinese megalopolises, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are wearing qiuku because they believe it's the latest trend.

This craze was born in the global fashion center - Manhattan - where stylish young men began to don colorful leggings at the end of 2012. These garments are called "megging" - a portmanteau of "men" and "legging".

The trend was transmitted to China via online photos. Some of the country's male celebrities, including Taiwan's singer-actor Show Lo and mainland singer Zhang Jie, began to wear meggings on public occasions.

But the movement has yet to escape the realm of China's hippest elite.

Most citizens still regard qiuku as practical pants for staying warm in winter.

They consider thermals must-buy seasonal apparel - but not at all because they're trendy.

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