Caoxian's hanfu surge bolsters rural vitalization

By ZHAO RUIXUE| (China Daily)| Updated : 2023-08-03

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A livestreamer promotes hanfu from an outlet in Caoxian county, Shandong province. ZHAO RUIXUE/CHINA DAILY

As China's tourism market returns to normal and embraces high-quality development, hanfu, or traditional Chinese clothing, has seen substantial growth in the first half of this year in Caoxian county, Shandong province, one of the major hanfu production bases in China.

In Daiji township, the biggest hanfu production town in Caoxian, sales of hanfu sold via e-commerce platforms in the first half of this year witnessed an upsurge, reaching 2.5 billion yuan ($350 million), said Li Tao, Party secretary of the township.

"Many hanfu producers in our township are working overtime to meet their orders," he said.

At an e-commerce industrial park in Caoxian, a woman used a livestreaming platform to promote hanfu on Tuesday.

The hanfu outfits she promotes are selling like hotcakes, said Zheng Tao, manager of Qianwei Hantang Costume Co Ltd in the park.

During the past one and a half months, the company has sold more than 7,000 pieces of the hanfu she promotes, he said.

"Triggered by the booming tourism sector, our sales of hanfu during the past two months reached 10 million yuan, which is 10 times that of the same period last year," said Zheng.

Meng Xiaoxia, director of the industrial center of the Caoxian original design of hanfu, also located in the township said: "In particular, the horse face skirt has seen big growth in sales during the first half of this year.

"This set of horse face skirts is designed for a family, and we added an embroidered peony onto the skirt to make the dress more elegant."

Meng, who majored in art, and her husband Hu Chunqing, a PhD student at the Institute of Metal Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, returned to Hu's hometown Caoxian in 2018 to start a business selling performance costumes and hanfu.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, performance costumes did not sell well, and the couple began to focus on hanfu.

"The well-developed industrial chain for hanfu in this township laid a strong foundation for sales growth," said Meng.

Daiji township has formed a complete chain for developing the hanfu industry, covering research and development, design and production, copyright protection, cutting and printing, embroidery printing, accessories, exhibition, network marketing and after-sales service, said Li.

Over 30 percent of hanfu sold via e-commerce platforms in China are from Daiji. Meanwhile, the town shares 70 percent of theater performance clothing sold via e-commerce platforms in China, according to the township government.

"As more and more overseas Chinese and foreigners appreciate hanfu, we are developing cross-border e-commerce platforms to expand our overseas markets," said Li.

"The hanfu industry has not only brought economic benefits to our villages, but brought back more young people to run businesses in our township, driving the high-quality development of rural vitalization," Li added.

More than 7,000 young people have returned to the township, among which 10 percent are college graduates, according to the township government.