Mao Zedong and Sun Yatsen suits


Mao Zedong and Sun Yatsen suits
Inspired by military uniform, the fitted jacket with rounded collar and Western trousers of the Sun Yatsen suit (zhongshanzhuang) emerged as an important fashion for young revolutionaries in the 1920s. Mao Zedong adapted the style for the Communist revolution, a variant that also drew inspiration from the trousers, tunics and black cotton shoes of Chinese peasants. The Mao suit (maozhuang) thus symbolized revolutionary tradition, militarization of society, and revolutionary asceticism. It dominated the sartorial landscape of the 1960s and reached its height in the Cultural Revolution. Subtle differences in the Mao suit differentiated the population: peasants and workers wore indigo blue Mao jackets; People’s Liberation Army soldiers donned khaki green; and Party cadres sported grey barathea—thus ensuring, paradoxically, that uniformity maintained hierarchical difference even while advocating egalitarian ideals.
The Mao jacket is associated with the redefinition of femininity through a masculinization of society as well as with the rejection of bourgeois norms that objectify the female body.
In the post-Maoist period and subsequent promotion of consumer culture, leaders and urban populations replaced Mao suits with Western styles. With the Neo-Maoism and Mao Fever of the early 1990s, the Mao suit emerged again as desired youth fashion. At this time, its appeal derived from kitsch-based consumerism and contestation over the memory and legacy of Mao Zedong.
See also: Tang dress
Barmé, Geremie R. (1996). Shades of Mao, The Posthumous Cult of the Great Leader. Armonk and London: M.E.Sharpe.
Chen, Tina Mai (1999). ‘Dressing for the Party: Clothing, Citizenship, and Gender-Formation in Mao’s China’. Fashion Theory 5.2:143–72.
TINA MAI CHEN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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