Beijing, Mega Mega Vintage

 

Liu Ke is the owner of store M&M Vintage (Mega Mega Vintage) at East Gulou Street. He sells vintage clothes.  Liu Ke used to be a member in a rock band called Linga. While playing for the band het learned, through contacts, about the vintage culture and he has been addicted to this very culture ever since.

 

Liu Ke opened the very first vintage shop in Beijing together with a friend. After a while they concluded that they had different view on how to run their business and Liu Ke opened his own shop. According to Liu Ke, there are six vintage stores in Beijing, and four of them are in the same street. M&M is the second vintage store in the city.  Liu Ke claims that he runs this business only because of his own interest and that he doesn’t care about profits.

 

Goods on sale at M&M are mainly imported from America, France, and Japan. There are indigenous vintage goods in China, but Liu Ke has no interest in them. No matter the materials or designs, he finds there is nothing special about this stuff. Foreign vintage, on the other hand, usually conveys a special spirit. For example, the work wear from the 1920s to the 1940s shows the respect for workers who created the world with their bare hands.

 

Customers in this shop are all interested in vintage culture. Most of them have a job in art or the creative industry, such as art directors, actors and people working in the media. What these customers have in common is that they used to study abroad and know about the vintage culture; they understand how valuable these goods are.  For Chinese without a background in foreign culture it is more difficult to understand. In China it is not common to sell second-hand clothes, which makes it harder for most Chinese to understand the vintage phenomenon.

 

When Liu Ke started the store he got a lot of advice from an American friend who runs a similar store in Hong Kong. Now, he is in touch with many vintage store owners around the world and he frequently visits stores abroad when traveling. It is during these same journeys abroad that Liu Ke collects a lot of vintage goods.

 

For post-1980s clothes he finds that an increasing number has been made in China and the quality is not very good. He will not include such clothes in his collection, unless the design is very special.  For short term supplies Liu Ke relies on a friend in America. They make use of a good logistics company near the airport. The costs are high, but Liu Ke will be able to receive ordered goods within three or four days.

 

It is the story behind the clothes that interests Liu Ke most. He occasionally finds traces of previous owners such as laundry labels, shopping receipts, coins and paper money inside the pockets.

He thinks these traces are cool.  Liu Ke’s favorite theme of vintage is “cowboy”, while his favorite brand is SCHOTT NYC.

 

There is a hand-made (American) Indian bag in Liu Ke’s store, which is one of his most precious objects. According to him, the pattern on the front of the bag is an operational war map. There are pictures of three famous Apaches on the top of the bag, and one of them is the tribe leader of Ogra, called Red Cloud. It took three months to make this bag.

 

Another great object for him is a leather jacket from the U.S. Air Force. He found it in Japan. It’s made of wild horse leather. Liu Ke told us that it’s not a jacket for normal pilots; only the pilots who had shot more than 5 enemy planes down were allowed to wear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beijing street fashion, Yin Yue and Mao Shiyi

 

Yin Yue and Mao Shiyi are from Beijing and work in the media industry.

Yin Yue’s clothes:

Coat: Around 20,000 RMB

Legging: 100 RMB, from the clothes market near Beijing Zoo

Bag: Around 6,500 RMB, brand: MCM

Boots: Around 1,000 RMB

 

Mao Shiyi’s clothes:

Coat: Around 20,000 RMB

Jeans: 300 RMB

Shoes: Around 1,500 RMB

Hoodie: A gift from Adidas when working at an event

 

 

Beijing street fashion, Vigor

 

We meet a man who introduces himself as “Vigor” at a high-end shopping mall near Dawang Road. He works in the film industry for Hollywood based companies.

 

 

Hat: from London; around 700 RMB

Bodywarmer: from London; around 1,000 RMB

Cardigan: from the UK; 3,000 – 4,000 RMB

Scarf: from the UK; 1,000 RMB

Pants: from the UK; 1,000 – 2,000 RMB

Shoes: from the UK; 3,000 – 4,000 RMB

 

Vigor tells that many of his clothes are from the UK, because that is where he often has to stay for his work.

 

Beijing, Fashion designer Luna

 

Luna is a fashion designer. She studied fashion design at the University of East London. Now she works 6 days a week, together with her assistant, in her studio at 180 Gulou street, Beijing.

 

Luna mainly designs evening dresses and wedding gowns. Sometimes, she also designs suits for men. Most of her customers are “upper-class”, such as actresses, business officials and fiancees who are about to marry a rich husband. She also has a lot of foreign customers, like diplomats. Luna likes to make clothes in the style of Tim Burton movies like “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Nightmare before Christmas”

 

Luna’s designs are quite expensive, they start from 5,000 RMB. Usually, her customers come to her studio to discuss their preferences. After talking to them, Luna will draw a few designs and then send them to the customer. When the first version of the chosen design is made, she usually needs to make small adjustments 3 or 4 times before the final piece is ready.

 

Luna is only interested in her own unique designs and she doesn’t care about market trends. It makes her feel freer not to follow trends. According to Luna, people in China don’t respect designers as much as western people do. Chinese buyers often demand changes without respect for the original design of the designer, However, Luna says she refuses any changes that are not in line with her own design.

 

Luna usually finds her inspiration in books, movies, traveling or from people she meets. Her designs are always romantic. She prefers to work with silk, because it follows the shape of the body and it feels nice on the skin.

 

When it comes to Chinese designers, Luna argues that most of their designs lack creativity and are merely following trends in Europe. They copy a lot. However, those copied works won’t bring them a big profit. She claims that they are just too lazy to create. Luna calls them “the takers”.

 

Maybe in the future Asian design elements will find a way into western designs, but at the moment Luna doesn’t pay attention to that. Her inspiration is mainly from western designs. As for oriental designs, she thinks that some Japanese designers have done a good job. People are able to feel their culture from their designs, which is a way better than Chinese designers who just simply put dragons and phoenixes on an occidental work and believe that it possesses Chinese distinctions.

 

Working 6 days a week, it’s not stressful. She doesn’t need to do physical work all the time. She spends most of her time thinking and designing.  Luna has been running this studio for two and a half year.  All in all, Luna feels disappointed when it comes to the opportunities for a fashion designer in China. However, it’s too hard for a Chinese designer to have a career in Europe, because most Europeans don’t have a high respect for Chinese designers and are not willing to admit their designs to the fashion scene.

 

 

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