At the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in the U.S. city of Seattle in
1993, the participants were asked not to wear ties: the atmosphere
was to be informal. Bill Clinton, then U.S. president, wore jeans.
It has since become an unwritten rule that at APEC meetings, the
host offers informal attire to the participants.
In October 2001, the 9th APEC Economic Leaders'
Meeting was held in Shanghai. People were wondering what the participants
would wear this time, and no one knew until the final moment, when
Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the other APEC economic leaders
appeared wearing traditional Chinese jackets at the Shanghai Science
and Technology Museum.
China is also known as the Kingdom of Hats
and Clothes and the age-old clothing tradition is an important part
of the nation's 5,000-year-old civilization. The clothing prepared
for the 9th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting was composed of an updated
version of the traditional Chinese embroidered silk jacket in royal
blue, scarlet, burgundy, olive, or brown and an off-white silk shirt.
The jackets had a round collar and were fastened down the front
with traditional Chinese knot fasteners instead of buttons. They
were embossed with gold or black embroidered round designs of peonies,
the national flower of China, and were adapted to modern wear for
comfort. They were designed and made by the Shanghai Garment Institute
and the Qinyi Clothing Company.
The APEC meeting in Shanghai has set a new
trend in jackets, and traditional-clothing stores are enjoying a
brisk business in Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing. Many Chinese government
officials and foreign friends are going along with this latest fashion
and ordering tailor-made traditional Chinese clothes.
Ordering tailor-made traditional
APEC sets the fashion: Shanghai
residents shopping for traditional Chinese clothes.
Yu Ying, the
designer of the traditional Chinese jackets worn at the APEC
Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush, president of the United
States, at the APEC meeting. (courtesy of the Photo Center
of the APEC Host Economy)
Clothing Company in Shanghai: Making traditional Chinese jackets
for the APEC participants.