HANGZHOU, China, Dec. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Fresh from the memory of the staging of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou earlier this year, China National Silk Museum launched the "Active Elegance: China’s Sports Fashion 1990’s-2020’s" exhibition on December 12.
Hangzhou saw around 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions participating in the event, which was hailed as "one of the best ever". The sporting gathering not only showcased China’s sport, social and economic development, but also bore witness to its sporting fashion.
In 1990, the Asian Games in Beijing marked the first time for China to host a major international sporting event. Over the last three decades, there has been an increase in Chinese athletes frequently appearing at international sports events and the awareness and enthusiasm of the Chinese public for sports and fitness has grown. Ma Hua’s tight-fitting jumpsuit encouraged the female bodybuilding movement; the pop music of the millennium also made young people fall in love with fashionable street sports; and outdoor "light" sports became a new trend, making sports an integral aspect of the daily lives of Chinese people.
In the 1990s, professional sportswear made its debut in China, marking the commencement of Chinese local sports brands’ exploration into clothing technology. At the beginning of the 21st century, Chinese national athletes gained support from prominent brands, which used imported cutting-edge technology and designed the clothes based on the characteristics of Chinese athletes. In the 2010s, domestic sportswear developed comprehensively in terms of design and functional fabric.
In recent years with the emergence of the Internet economy, trend cultures have become popular, especially among young consumers. The concept originated from the rejuvenation strategy of local sports brands. A huge number of Generation Z consumers in China are pursuing quality and individuality. They have stronger cultural confidence and are willing to try different things. As a result, national fashion sports products have become an important vehicle of expression for emotional value and cultural appeal, and have even transformed into a social symbol.
Chinese athletic uniforms at major events reflect advances in domestic sportswear design. For the games held in Beijing in 2022, outfits blended Chinese ink art representing traditional landscape paintings and event imagery. Kits in the games in Hangzhou featured the landscapes and cultures of the Hangzhou and Jiangnan regions (south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) region through visuals and colors. Both promoted soft power by celebrating national heritage through sports apparel on the world stage.
Just as sport, fashion is an important part of human social culture. They reflect individuality and society, difference and convergence. The exhibition aims to show how sports events have brought changes in society and the sports fashion industry, as well as people’s fashion lifestyles over the past 30 years.