Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Guochao, a fashion trend featuring modern designs mixed with traditional cultural elements, is a style du jour in China. But its fans are not just young Chinese, as Gen Z'ers worldwide are jumping on the fashion wagon, too. JongMay is one of them.

BEIJING, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- JongMay Urbonya is an American lady full of surprises: she is fluent in Mandarin, obsessed with Hanfu -- a traditional Chinese style of clothing -- and immersed in her world of ancient Chinese TV dramas.

After 11 years of living in Beijing, she started a company in April, aiming to promote traditional Chinese culture through social media videos. Her inspiration for this career choice stemmed from the rise of Guochao in China.

The past decade witnessed increasing appreciation of traditional Chinese culture among young people. Hence a new fashion trend came to life -- Guochao, or "China-chic," which features modern designs mixed with traditional cultural elements.

© Provided by Xinhua

"I think Guochao is a way for young people to connect with the ancient culture, and also to bring it into the modern times," JongMay said.

In one of her videos, she strolled in the gardens of Beijing's Summer Palace, wearing beautiful Hanfu while tasting traditional Chinese pastries. In another video, she performed classical Chinese dance to an ancient tune.

JongMay was born in 1994 in the city of Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, where her parents worked as English teachers. She returned to the United States at the age of six and came back to China as a high school student. She studied Chinese dance in college and has been staying in Beijing ever since.

She said it was her "princess dream" that led her back to China.

"When I was a kid, I was throwing blankets over my shoulders and pretending I was some ancient Chinese princess," she said. "I thought I had to come to China to learn about the culture more deeply."

© Provided by Xinhua

The rise of Guochao has brought her dream within easier reach. "The traditional culture is not viewed just as history that appears on stage or in movies, but as a new fad that has blended into modern life," she said.

She recalled that 10 years ago when she was in college, wearing Hanfu was still a niche hobby and she could only buy custom-made Hanfu. Now, she has incorporated Hanfu into her everyday wear and is able to purchase different types of Hanfu online.

JongMay has confidence in the international appeal of traditional Chinese culture. "Many Westerners do not have much contact with Chinese culture. When they do, they think it's gorgeous!"

© Provided by Xinhua

Even though her social media channels only started recently, she has already received positive feedback from viewers worldwide.

"Even Chinese in the West have said 'I'm so happy that you are expressing yourself through our culture,'" she said.

"Given my love of traditional Chinese culture, it is coming from the bottom of my heart. It's just true love."

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