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Xinjiang Businessman Devoted in Innovation on Ethnic Fashions
   2015-10-04 02:02:20    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Yangyang

Gao Hui, costume designer and head of the Changji New Rainbow Costume Company prepares dresses for an upcoming fashion show in his workshop in Changji city, Xinjiang on August 21,2015. [Photo: CRIENGLISH]


Today we continue our series of reports to help mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by bringing you the story of a man from Xinjiang who has been trying to develop traditional ethnic costumes.

Gao Hui is a costume designer and the director of a clothing apparel company in Xinjiang.

He's now busy in choosing clothes at one of his workshops located in the city of Changji, which is the seat of government for the Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, which is located just 40-kilometers northwest of the regional capital, Urumqi.

Gao Hui introduces his newly-designed costume.

"The costume this woman is trying on has been made especially for the show at this year's fourth Asia-Europe Fashion Week. Our model is now trying it on. Our four major styles for the fashion show cover designs for all four-seasons. The gown is a traditional robe from the Hui-ethnic minority group. Even though its a traditional design, we try to incorporate patterns which have a modern look. For example, the trousers are loose pants which are popular this season. And we also use popular fabrics and other fashionable materials."

Coming from Hui ethnic minority himself, Gao says he belives the traditional designs of the Hui people in China are simple, but elegant.
Gao Hui heads the Changji New Rainbow Costume Company.

It's focus is exclusively on designing ethnic Chinese outfits.

His company has locations in Urumqi and Shanghai.

Gao Hui has been in the fashion industry for more than 20-years.
He got into ethnic designs in the early 1990s, shortly after he came out of college.

"I majored in costume design. The company I joined is one of the first to make ethnic outfits in Xinjiang. I joined the company straight out of school, and have been here ever since. I have always been in the business of making ethnic outfits."

Gao Hui's home, Changji, is a city of around 400-thousand people, and home to some 30 different ethnic groups.

Living here, Gao says he enjoys the cultural diversity, and says he tries to include ethnic elements in all his designs.

But as time goes by, Gao Hui says he's worried the younger generation are less and less interested in designs which have an ethnic flavor to them.

He says he's trying to change that through his designs.

"Ethnic minorities have a splendid design culture. But in reality, less and less people are wearing them. What's the problem? One of the reason is it's somewhat problematic to dress in traditional clothing. Another problem is the clothes aren't overly conducive to modern life, and don't really blend in well with modern culture. Young people nowadays, even if they hail from an ethnic minority, want to wear something fashionable to express themselves. Unfortunately, they feel traditional outfits, as well as the accessories, lack that sort of thing."
But Gao Hui says he's hoping to change that.

He notes many of the traditional ethnic designs and dying techniques passed down through years remain unique, and says it would be a great-loss if those designs and techniques are lost through time.

Gao Hui is working on a number of new innovations to try to make ethnic Chinese outfits suitable for modern life.

"We are focused on two aspects. In one respect, we want to highlight some of the more attractive parts of the ethnic designs, while weeding-out some of the more typical elements. At the same time, we're trying to combine them with popular fashion trends from both at home and abroad. We're trying to tailor our designs to fit with what will be trendy, in terms of style and design, at the "big four" fashion weeks around the world."

One way Gao Hui is trying to set his work apart is by using photographs to incorporate the landscapes in Xinjiang on scarves he's been developing.

He says the silk scarves have been selling well so-far.

"We put the spectacular landscapes of Xinjiang on them using modern digital dyeing and painting techniques. They've turned out to be quite popular, especially for tourists. We're seeing more and more tourists coming to Xinjiang. They generally want to bring something back as gifts. The scarves are a beautiful gift to give to someone. They are also useful. I think this is what's making them quite popular."
Gao Hui says he's also hoping to look beyond Xinjiang, saying he belives there is huge market potential outside Xinjiang for his products.
The company he works for has already set up branches in certian coastal cities in China.

They're also eyeing the overseas market.
Gao Hui says Central Asia is one of the targets, particularly given the opportunities being offered through the "One Belt, One Road" initiative the Chinese government has adopted.

"Certian ethnic groups in Xinjiang share cultural similarities with countries in Central Asia. The Kazakhs from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz people from Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbeks from Uzbekistan share cultural similarities with their ethnic minority cousins in Xinjiang. This includes the way they dress. As such, when we have very little issues when we deal with them in our business."

Gao hopes that with the "One Belt, One Road" program, they'll be able to promote their products across Central Asia, and the rest of the world.  

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