Women now buy more suits than men — Alibaba

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We send our condolences to our fellow China-watcher Bill Bishop, who recently lost his father.

A quick announcement: Please join us tomorrow, April 24, for a Slack chat with Oma Lee. Oma was recently selected as Young China Watcher of the Year. She will join us for a Q&A on the theme “China’s changing NGO landscape” at 11 a.m. New York time (11 p.m. Beijing time). Here’s a link to the Slack channel. Please email lucas@supchina.com if you need help getting in.

—Jeremy Goldkorn and team

1. Women now buy more suits than men

In the last two months, China has been binge-watching the broadcast and streaming-TV series All Is Well (都挺好 dōu tǐng hǎo). It’s a family drama that stars Yáo Chén 姚晨. Jing Daily reports:

The series portrays the life of a typical Chinese middle-class family, which traditionally values sons over daughters, with women as “second-class” family members. Its storyline has particularly struck a chord with Chinese women through the protagonist Sū Míngyù 苏明玉 (acted by Yao Chen), who confronts the gender bias in her own family with fierce independence. Armed with a suit in every episode, Su Mingyu has dominated Chinese social media with her handsome suit styles and has led a national shopping trend for “women’s suits.”

But Chinese women’s interest in suits predates All Is Well. Jing Daily notes that in March, Alibaba released its 2019 China Fashion Data Report (in Chinese), which shows:

  • The top-searched keyword by female users of Taobao in 2018 was suit (西装 xīzhuāng). Searches for the term “大哥廓西” (dàgē kuò xī) — roughly meaning “dude’s padded-shoulder suit” — increased 317 percent year-on-year, while sales of such suits grew 39 percent.

  • The sales volume of women’s suits surpassed that of men’s suits for the first time on January 27, 2019. (Obviously, the data is drawn only from Alibaba affiliate websites and does not reflect brick-and-mortar retail sales.)

  • “Chinese men are embracing a more ‘feminine’ style” at the same time that women are buying powersuits. Jing Daily notes that “‘lace,’ ‘transparent,’ ‘earring’ topped the list of growing search keywords from men.”

2. Fears of a Red Army planet

Despite cautious but widespread optimism about a successful conclusion to the U.S.-China trade talks, deep tensions in the relationship persist. Two news stories illuminate — and will add to — worries in Washington about China, and fears in Beijing that America wants to stymie its rise:

  • “How China is replacing America as Asia’s military titan”

In the first of a series of reports on China under Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim of Reuters write that Xi “has refashioned the People’s Liberation Army into a force that’s rapidly closing the gap on U.S. firepower — and in some vital areas has surpassed it.” Their conclusion: “American victory over China in a regional war is no longer assured.”

  • China exploiting U.S. satellites “to strengthen police and military power”

The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Spegele and Kate O’Keeffe write (paywall) that Beijing is using commercial access to American satellites for a variety of military and security applications, despite U.S. law, and “aided indirectly by private-equity giant Carlyle Group and Boeing Co.”

Other stories on the tense bilateral relationship in the news today include:

The impression [many] commentators are giving is that China’s new Foreign Investment Law (FIL) will raise up foreign companies to become equal to Chinese companies…This is just not correct…The intent and the reality of the FIL is to pull down foreign investors to the status of privately owned Chinese companies. At that level, foreign invested companies will be firmly under CCP control and they will operate at a permanent economic disadvantage to PRC state owned enterprises.

3. An archive of harmonious tweets?

Sixth Tone reports on a new project to preserve postings on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service used by nearly half a billion people:

The National Library of China will archive over 200 billion Weibo posts as part of a project launched Friday that aims to build a comprehensive record of internet data and preserve China’s digital footprint.

“The project is established for the long-term development of national information security and the informatization of society,” Ráo Quán 饶权, director of the NLC, said in a speech Friday. The project’s instigator and first partner, Chinese technology giant Sina, will contribute 210 million news articles and 200 billion Weibo microblog posts to the archive “for further research,” according to Rao.

Rao does not mention what the National Library will do with the many millions of Weibo posts that are censored each year. Will they be preserved for elite scholars to study, or expunged from the record as unbecoming to Xi Jinping’s New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?  


Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at jeremy@supchina.com.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


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  • Pollution in Shandong
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    “Shandong’s provincial government said on Monday that 163 officials have been held to account for violations uncovered by central government inspectors.”

  • Recycling plastic without China
    China plastic waste ban throws global recycling into chaos / AFP via CNA
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