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Why Chinese people used to wear oversized clothes

 I know this is a million dollar question and probably there is not a univocal answer but I have a simple explanation. The first epicentre of fashion was undoubtedly Paris, no discussion about that. Then it extended to Italy, now the menswear world leader. A further extension can be done towards the 4 fashion capitals cities, 3 in EU and the Big Apple. Now the baricenter is moving toward East but at the present state the leadership in design is very much rooted in Italy and France.

After opening up its own market, China, started to crave for foreign products in all shape and sizes. And the suits were included in this macro commercial trend. Ermenegildo Zegna was undoubtedly The pioneer of this market, way before anyone else. Whilst certain companies are still now considering... EZ opened here the first store in, believe or not, 1991. After that everybody else followed. But of course when foreign brands arrived in China they did not adapt much their products to the local body shapes and sizes. 

The average European is 13 kg heavier of an average Chinese and around 9cm taller (I measured hundreds of Europeans and Chinese but for this data I still prefer to use my old ally Wikipedia). Therefore when these garments reached China they were simply too long and big for them. Sleeves to the knuckle and jackets to the knee.. But people got accostumed to this longer fit and just recently the more forward thinking a la mode Chinese require more fitted and proportioned garments. Nearly every 50 oversized still dress “traditionally”.

For the last 5 years all the luxury foreign tailoring companies had in their secret rooms the plan to launch an Asian fitting to better adapt to the local figure. Many of them already launched successfully, some of them not successfully and some are still discussing and asking for feedbacks to their Asian teams.

The dilemma is simple but when facing a client it can be tricky to answer and not so easy to explain:

- Asian people have different bodies

- companies adapt their garments to fit these different bodies

- Asian people don’t like anymore these products because they do not feel them as proper “Italian” or “British” as it supposed to be.

So, if we do not adopt our garments, clients: “your wearability does not suit Asian people”, if we adapt it “I do not feel this Asian fit like a true Italian or British style, I prefer the original fit”.

Obviously we are field experts and we have thousands of ways to explain our company logic and products’ design. Each company supposedly has one. 

But I still remember once going around luxury shops in China three years ago and finding in an ultra luxury company the Asian fitting cut. They were taking the same products sold in western markets and on the ready to wear offer shorten the skirt and the sleeves 3 cm. A “normal” client probably never notice the proportion pockets/buttons Vs skirt was not respected but I saw it from a mile and I was very disappointed also because the products were sold full price for 5/7,000 Euro. They rectified the anomaly in the following season and as foreseen nobody ever saw or noticed anything. Good for them. 

Now China is getting quickly more sophisticated, more companies, more foreigners and especially many returnees, the hidden but powerful agent of change (especially if they are educated in Europe).