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Shanghai Daily Tuesday 31 October 2017 Jing鈥檃n C3 100 Years of Hongxiang Hongxiang鈥檚 history: from a small tailor shop to a once re- nowned department store. 1928 Veteran tailor Chen Jian works on a hand-made coat at the workshop on Haifang Road. 鈥?Jiang Xiaowei Model team Song sisters Once proud icon restyles brand of fine tailored women鈥檚 fashion 1950s 1987 We have to Li Qian by the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions to introduce new single out 1,000 exemplary workers. 1997 blood to our Hongxiang, a bygone fashion brand, workshop. We is making something of a comeback. Hongxiang is seeking to revive its fortunes need people A fashion show of its haute couture by doing what it does best 鈥?fine handmade to carry on the collection was recently staged to cel- craftsmanship. old skills, and ebrate its 100th birthday. we also want 鈥淲e decided to hold a grand fashion show young ideas on Founded in 1917, Hongxiang was a pioneer in after so many years to spark some publicity,鈥?creating new Chinese fashion and beyond. It redefined the said Ni Hua, deputy Party chief of Hongxiang. fashions in tune classic cheongsam, changing it from a loose- 鈥淲e want to show that our tailors are innova- with the times. fitting, straight-line gown to a body-hugging, tive and can adapt to modern trends.鈥? one-piece dress that was highly praised by Chen Jian Madame Soong Ching Ling as a revolution in For Chen, the only dress of value is one made the women鈥檚 liberation movement. by hand. He has devoted 40 years to honing Senior tailor of Hongxiang his skills and putting his passion into fashion. Hongxiang was the first couture house in Some may view cutting, sewing and fitting as a China to hold a fashion show, attracting ce- boring sort of job, but Chen said he finds great lebrities like Ruan Lingyu, known as 鈥淐hina鈥檚 satisfaction and enjoyment in his work. Greta Garbo,鈥?and movie queen Hu Die to the catwalk. 鈥淵es, it鈥檚 nothing special,鈥?he said of his skill. 鈥淏ut if you indulge yourself in the world At the 1933 Chicago Expo, six of Hongxiang鈥檚 of cutting and sewing, you will be amazed by silk cheongsam captivated the world with their the beauty of change. It鈥檚 so exciting to face elaborate, multicolored embroidery. The brand a challenge, isn鈥檛鈥?it? I feel happiness beyond won a silver medal, a first for China. description when I address challenge.鈥? In 1947, Hongxiang again attracted attention To make a perfect garment, Hongxiang tai- with a cloak it made, with embroidered flowers lors require 26 body measurements and 30 in golden thread, for Queen Elizabeth. techniques, which were listed as part of the city鈥檚 鈥渋ntangible cultural heritage鈥?in June Over the years, Hongxiang came to be recog- 2007. Among them, 鈥?D tailoring鈥?is what nized widely as a trusted choice for high-end, made Hongxiang famous, and Chen is an ex- tailor-made garments. In 1993, it expanded pert in the practice. to a department store, becoming Shanghai鈥檚 version of Harrods. Knowing how the body moves, he can shape the cloth to the wearer so they appear as one. But in later years, the brand began to falter He can also compensate for body flaws and because of competition from foreign fashion make wearers seem taller or shorter. houses, careless management and a failure to modernize marketing. It was part of a general 鈥淢any of my customers are older hunch- demise of quality tailors in China. backed women,鈥?he said. 鈥淭hey can鈥檛 find suitable clothes at ready-to-wear stores, so In 2008, Hongxiang lost its premium loca- they turn to me.鈥? tion on the Nanjing Road W. Now, it operates only a small store on Shaanxi Road N. and a Chen also mentors young people in tailor- workshop tucked away in a residential com- ing. He has taught more than 20 students. plex on Haifang Road. 鈥淲e don鈥檛 have many young customers, and Still, its allure as a quality brand is not all we also lack young tailors,鈥?he said. 鈥淲e have forgotten. Hongxiang retains a following of to introduce new blood to our workshop. We loyal, upmarket customers who still value need people to carry on the old skills, and good tailoring and design. we also want young ideas on creating new fashions in tune with the times.鈥? 鈥淭hey became our customers at a young age,鈥?explained senior tailor Chen Jian, 58. Hongxiang recruits saleswomen who can 鈥淭hey know our quality and they trust us. speak English and Japanese fluently to better They will come from time to time and sup- serve foreign customers. port us. Every month, we sell clothes valued at about 200,000 yuan (US$30,218).鈥? After the fashion show, Hongxiang鈥檚 parent company, the Kaikai Group, announced it will In September, Chen was honored one of the set up a 1 million yuan foundation to help 94 鈥淪hanghai standouts鈥?under a campaign promote venerable brands.