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English>>China Society

Navy uniforms inspire retro fashion

By  Li Xiaokun  (China Daily)

10:47, August 01, 2012

As a little boy in the 1970s, Zhang Zhiyuan remembers admiring his father as he donned his work uniform in front of the mirror.

Zhang Xide was a captain in the navy of the People's Liberation Army. In those early days, the uniform consisted of a very simple design with basic cotton materials and blue and white stripes, similar to what the sailors of other countries wore.

Still, for the young Zhang, the navy blue his father wore represented honorable duty to his country, and that deserved the respect of his peers.

And it was a uniform he has always wanted to wear himself.

More than three decades later, Zhang, 35, has chosen a different path from his father and instead wears the shirt and tie of a corporate executive.

But just last month he realized a new online trend could be the chance to revive his childhood dream. The PLA's latest navy uniform, known as Haihunshan in Chinese, harks back to Zhang's father's era and sports blue and white stripes. The classic design has triggered a wave of retro nostalgia on Taobao, the major Chinese online marketplace, with variations of the striped T-shirt being snapped up by buyers nationwide.

"I remembered my father told me that the Haihunshan was named after a 1950s Chinese movie about the first generation of the Chinese navy, Haihun, which means the soul of the sea," Zhang said.

"In other countries the shirt is just an item of clothing that has been popular for a long time, but for the Chinese, it's more complex."

The navy does not sell or promote its uniforms for civilian use, but that has not stopped variations of the attire from hitting catwalks and boutiques as fashion lovers covet the timeless and elegant design of the navy-blue shirt.

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