LIFE> Fashion
Fashionably late arrivals to style
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-28 14:53

Fashionably late arrivals to style

More Chinese men now dress to impress. At least that's what the inaugural issue of GQ China suggests.

The fashion monthly sold 400,000 copies in October and 420,000 (till now) this month, according to media-planning consultancy Group M.

"GQ's target readers are trendy men This is the right time for GQ to enter China's market, because there are more potential readers now," says Wang Feng, editorial director of GQ China, which is partly owned by US-based Conde Nast.

Traditionally, Chinese men have paid more attention to their career and family values, Wang says. "They were reluctant to accept that a man, too, needed to dress up." But that has been changing over the past three years.

Three years ago, the L'Officiel Hommes magazine conducted a random survey in Beijing and Shanghai, which showed most men thought fashion was less important than other factors in life. The most common view was: A man should care more about his property and social status.

Women, however, have been paying more attention to grooming since the reform and opening up began in 1979.

Dou Jiangming, executive editor of Esquire China, said the last five years have seen quite a few men's fashion magazines hitting the newsstands. Now, men have a much wider range to choose from - from Men's Uno and Maxim to FHM and GQ China.

In fact, the first men's fashion magazine in China was Esquire China - published with the Cosmopolitan's Chinese edition in 1993. It became an independent magazine three years later.

Fashionably late arrivals to style

Sociologist Luo Pu'er says one of the main reasons for the transformation is China's changing role in international business. "Chinese are attending more international conferences and meeting more foreign executives and officials nowadays, and have thus become conscious of their looks."

Hao Ning, chief executive editor of Harper's Bazaar Men's Style (China), explains: "Before the 1990s, very few parties were held in China, so there was no demand for evening dresses. Now there are many, and hence Chinese men have learnt to dress smartly for such occasions."

Wang Jian, editor-in-chief of local male fashion magazine Men's Style, believes technology has improved access to the global fashion scene. "In the past five years, iPhones, YouTube, blogs and websites have become more popular. This has made Chinese men realize fashion is part of life."

But men's fashion still has a long way to go in China, says Su Hong, publisher of the L'Officiel Hommes (China).

GQ China may be one more step in that direction. Wang Feng says 37 percent of the content in GQ's first issue focused on men's "mental fashion" and human-interest stories, instead of superficial stuff on fashion. The publishers took this decision after surveying the market for a year before the publication.

GQ is not alone in this department, though. Esquire China, for example, has carried investigative reports on career development, environmental protection and a village with many HIV/AIDS patients.

Esquire China's Dou gives the answer to why: "We want Chinese men to be fashionably responsible." It is the inner beauty that counts.

Fashionably late arrivals to style

On the type of men who are interested in fashion, Su says they are generally quick learners, have a global outlook and good education. They may not be in the majority but are becoming more influential.

Men's fashion will get a booster dose from the Pure Attraction Business and Style People of the Year Award, to be held by Harper's Bazaar Men's Style at the Bird's Nest on Dec 4. The magazine will select the "most stylish men in China", who it says are commercially successful and involved in charity as well.

The ceremony is likely to be attended by personalities such as the presidents of Huayi Brothers, Wang Zhongjun and Wang Zhonglei, billionaire software engineer Shi Yuzhu, and former president of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Tang Jun.

They are the role models of today's Chinese men, Hao says, and a fashion statement in themselves.