Higher incomes give Tibetans more clothing choices

(Xinhua) 10:57, June 08, 2021

LHASA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Rising incomes and improved living conditions are bringing more diverse clothing choices to people in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region as well as breathing life into local garment brands.

During the 2016-2020 period, the Engel coefficient of Tibetan residents, the proportion of total family income spent on food, continued to decline, while the per capita consumption on clothing rose by 584 yuan (about 91 U.S. dollars).

The force behind increased spending on clothing is rising incomes. In 2020, the per capita disposable income of urban residents in Tibet was 41,156 yuan, a year-on-year increase of 10 percent. That of rural residents rose 12.7 percent to 14,598 yuan, official data shows.

"In old Tibet, my family of six only had two rough items of clothing made of pulu (a kind of Tibetan woolen fabric) to wear. They were used as clothing during the day and quilts at night," said Changchub, a villager from the Chushur County of Lhasa.

"At that time, even filling our stomachs was a problem. Who would care about clothing?" he said.

Before the 1950s, the three major stakeholders -- officials, aristocrats and higher-ranking lamas -- and their agents made up about 5 percent of the population but owned almost all of the land, pastures, forests, mountains, rivers and other means of production.

Serfs and slaves, who accounted for 95 percent of the local population, had little to spend on their clothing, which was shoddy and dull.

Li Mei, president of the Tibetan Institute of Ethnic Clothing and Culture, said that Tibetan people's clothing has experienced a consumption upgrading.

"Their quality of life has improved significantly, their clothes are becoming more and more exquisite and they are moving toward high-end consumption," Li said.

In recent years, local fashion brands have mushroomed in Tibet. There are more than 20 Tibetan-style fashion shops on Barkhor Street in central Lhasa, the regional capital.

"Modern Tibetan clothing uses silk, flax and other materials while retaining the traditional designs," said Rigzin, executive director of AJ-NAMO, a Tibetan fashion design firm, adding that they have been creating designs using new materials thanks to technical innovations.

Li said that compared with traditional Tibetan clothing, fashionable Tibetan clothes are gaining popularity as they are lighter and more comfortable, and their style better dovetails with contemporary aesthetics.

(Web editor: Guo Wenrui, Liang Jun)


Related Stories