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Dressing for success

Publish Time: 2018-11-03 Author: From: China Daily

During the fourth China Tibet Tourism and Culture Expo held in September, models, dressed in these new innovative Tibetan costumes, amazed their audience. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Traditional Tibetan costume is finding a whole new audience and creating new revenue streams for ethnic communities thanks to homegrown contemporary fashion companies.

Tibetan traditional costume, with its uniquely bright colors, robe-like design and use of yak's wool, is carving a path to the wider world by adopting modern, fashionable elements.

The jeans and nipped waist-designs are in; the baggy robe is out, while the cross collar, raglan sleeve and old colorful patterns are reserved - all to make the clothes more appealing to style-savvy customers while at the same time preserving the key cultural elements.

Tibetan traditional costume was inscribed onto the national intangible cultural heritage list in 2008. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Tibetan traditional costume was inscribed onto the national intangible cultural heritage list in 2008. During the fourth China Tibet Tourism and Culture Expo held in September, models, dressed in these new innovative Tibetan costumes, amazed their audience, and offered hope for this latest potential opportunity to meld with tradition with contemporary fashion.

"Clothes should be worn. If they are only hung in shop windows or museums, they will be forgotten quickly," says Li Mei, president of the Tibet Ethnic Dressing Culture Institute. "The way people live has changed, therefore, traditional costumes should also evolve to meet their new demands."

Back in the old days, Tibetan herdsmen and farmers used to wear traditional dress every day while working on the plateau. Since they rarely carried a bag, the outfit, composed of a huge robe and a wide belt, had a pocket at the waist in which they used to carry zanba (roasted barley flour) and a snuff bottle - sometimes even a baby - in it, according to Li.

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