Ethnic and Ethical: 4 Reasons to Love Sustainable Fashion in China

Written By Maria Giglio

I remember the last time I walked around Regent’s Street area in London. It was last winter on a Saturday. Ok, it may not have been the last time, but surely it was the most memorable. I passed by a fur shop. A bunch of protestors stood in front of the building yelling at anyone getting out of the fancy door. Several bystanders just didn’t take them seriously or worse, they held their children tight, covering their eyes and ears, as they were assisting to a terrorist attack. It was a moment of dramedy.

Greta Thunberg on her first climate strike in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm

Ok, we get it. In the era of veganism, environmentalism, climate change strikes, grumpy looks from Greta Thunberg to Donald Trump, not everyone is ready to give up their comfort food just yet, and for what? The promise of a better future?  Ain’t no hero, ain’t no saint, right? Wrong! Maybe this is a time desperately in need of a Marvel character, only this time is the whole world at stake. And by world, I mean trees, animals, insects, fish, your delicious bonsai, your Retriever, but also you and I, our children, the children of theirs. Only problem? The environmental alert is set up to 2030. In a world without fictional saviours, only humanity can save itself from self-destruction. Good news: we are still in time to make this happen. How? Coming to compromise on our old habits: energy and food waste, water efficiency, responsible consumption. In a nutshell, sustainability. And compared to the payoff, this is really a small effort. The growing concern about sustainability issues finally has led many industries to look at sustainability as a crucial bullet point in their performance checklist and it is increasingly becoming a key determinant in their revenues.

A relatively young capitalist economic superpower, a fast-forward technological hub, Chinese market offers a fertile place for sustainable businesses to grow.  As an important branch of mass consumption, Fashion is one of the most prosperous industries, supported and fostered by a workforce of young western-educated home-comers redressing their homeland reputation with sustainable initiatives.

What is sustainable fashion?

The very first important question to ask is, what we mean by sustainable fashion? The answer is, one that is environmental-friendly, but also people-friendly. Let’s see the reasons why supporting it in details

1.      It’s good for the planet.

As pointed out above, sustainability is intuitively relates to environmental issues. In what ways fashion can be sustainable under this aspect? First of all, generally ethical brands offer handmade products, usually unique pieces. Taking mass-production off the table implies to avoid frenetic production which exhausts resources rapidly, but also to avoid industrial processing which implies high level of energy emission, chemical material usage, water consumption, toxic waste.

Moreover, sustainable clothing is made of natural, organic and recycled materials. This contributes to reduce the environmental footprint not only because “what comes from nature returns to nature” but also because it reduces waste production. In fact, generally organic fabric ensures a better quality of clothing, which usually lasts longer than synthetic fibres. This discourages you from disposing of a shirt right after few months of usage.

2.      It’s good for yourself.

I’ve just pointed out that a very important feature of sustainable fashion is that is made of organic fabric. This is also good for your health. As a customer, you don’t want to risk to wake up covered in rash because of the wrong pyjama. Usually organic fabrics have a very low level of toxicity if not free of carcinogens.

Moreover, let’s not forget that handmade production grants you top quality and awesome unique pieces, at fairly reasonable prices. Don’t you want to feel special and unique too?

3.      It’s good for other people.

Environment and health are the most obvious reasons why going sustainable. But beyond the mainstream subject target, we should think of sustainability more as a holistic concept, that refers to all the dimensions of our living together. It’s a call to share the global limited space and resources equally, responsibly and kindly, paying the same consideration for others’ wellbeing as the consideration we expect them to pay for us. If you look at the official plan for sustainability set up by the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals  (in short 2030 SDGs) amount to 17 global goals in total including social goals in the global political agenda.

To mention some, gender equality, education, peace, justice, decent work, innovation. So, beyond the eco-friendly purpose, sustainable fashion also aims at achieving social equality. How? By taking care of the wellbeing women and men behind each product. For example, the use of organic materials reduces the risk of contact and inhaling toxic substances, thus safeguarding the worker’s health. Moreover, sustainable brands endorse a policy of fairness. Retailers in this slice of market are usually committed to promote the ethnic products of the most marginalised communities in the world to support their independent development. How? By granting fair pay and treating them as equal partners and avoiding engaging in abusive practices. Last but not least, by promoting their cultural heritage, often at risk of disappearance due to the mass-globalisation.

4.      Ultimately, it’s good for your soul.

Yes, it is. Don’t you feel already empowered by knowing that so much good can come from one simple gesture? You are one bag away from changing a life, for real.

Chinese Brands Committed to Ethical Fashion

And if you’re curious to know who is striving for social change in Chinese fashion district, here are some examples:

Nuomi – A high-end fashion line, Nuomi empowers women with its handmade line, all using natural fibres such as bamboo, cotton, silk, and an admirable working ethics, creating employment opportunities in disadvantaged contexts.

An amazing Nuomi dress 100% Natural

Fake Natoo – is a true blessing for the environment, using exclusively recycled and donated materials. The fashion brand is also committed to create working opportunities for migrant women creatives by giving 10% of its annual revenue to their cooperatives.

A piece of Natoo’s Recycling Bank collection

NEEMIC – this high end fashion brand uses 100% organic materials, from fabric to cleansing products such as biodegradable soaps to avoid chemical waste.

Neemic past SS collection

Interact China: Do good, look good, feel good!

If you are looking for something which is good for the planet, the environment, the others, and yourself, but also culturally tripping, please visit us on our website! We raise social awareness by promoting the products of different ethnic artisans of China. Our hope is to disclose to the world the immense cultural heritage of Chinese and Southeast Asian communities, their diversity.

Miao generations of lady crafters

Our mission is to raise the human lives of these populations by creating the opportunity to sell their products on a global market.

Our co-founders Aileen and Norman on a trip to a Miao Village, Yunnan 2005

Each item is a little treasure telling the story of this people’s long journey. Do you want to hear it? The way we see it: do good, look good, feel good! The way you can make it happen? By a simple click. To know more, come visit us on www.InteractChina.com !


About Interact China 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

圖案

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!  
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Peonies & Co.: The Enchanting Power of the Chinese Flower

Written by Maria Giglio

Attention boyfriends of the world, I’m about to tell you the secret to a woman’s heart: if you love her, bring her flowers. That’s right, that’s it. Every woman in the world has a thing with flowers… unless she’s allergic, of course. In any case, no doubt she will fall in your arms. But why? Well, for starters it’s the simplest gesture to show appreciation to your other half. Plus, because there is a mystic, millennial symbolic connection between flowers and women.

Many cultures worship flowers as a universal image of feminine grace, beauty and prosperity. For example, in Christian tradition the Virgin Mary is often associated with the lily, symbol of purity or referred to as “Mystical Rose” without thorn to represent her sinless nature. In Buddhist culture, the lotus is worshipped as a symbol of perfection and fertility; resembling the woman’s uterus with its rounded shape, this flower is known for its incredible beauty and the capacity to stay clean despite flourishing in swamps and wet habitats. The energising power of flowers and spring are immortalised in Botticelli’s eternal masterpiece La Primavera.

In Botticelli’s La Primavera, Flora (3rd figure on the right) personifies the rebirth of Spring wearing a floral dress

Naturally, this charming love story between flowers and women reaches one of its highest peeks in Chinese culture, where it has been widely celebrated over millennia by a prosperous artistic tradition.

Chinese blossoms

Since ancient times, the Chinese have cultivated a true passion for flowers, by decorating their public and private spaces with beautiful gardens. Interestingly, the Chinese word for flower is “花” (huā) and visually represents the magic of a flower in bloom. In fact, the character is a compound, growing from the radical for grass “艹” under which the magic joyful metamorphosis of a plant when producing flowers is represented by a cheerful character.

On the twelfth day of the second month of each lunar year, as soon as nature awakens, a Spring Festival is held in honour of百花深 (Bǎihuā shēn), the White Goddess of Flowers, to celebrate fertility. As in other cultures, Chinese people too associate flowers with women and beauty very frequently, although the symbology related to flowers is much richer and varied, as evidenced by traditional and tribal art and poetry production.

Pink peonies

King of Flowers

Among the many flowers linked to Chinese culture, peony is certainly the most treasured by Chinese people. The equivalent of the Westerners’ beloved rose, the peony is also known as the king of flowers (花王, Huāwáng), existing in two main varieties, the tree and herbaceous peony. The original Chinese word for the herbaceous peony was 芍药 (sháo yào) to refer to the medical properties of the flower. Shao (芍) means in fact a spoonful (勺) of plant (艹), whereas yao (药) means medicine. After a while, both the tree and herbaceous varieties were known as 牡丹 (mudan). This word consists of two characters. The character 牡 (mu) is composed of the radicals for ox (牛) and and earth (土). The character 丹 (dan) means either pill, probably referring to the healing properties ascribed to the peony in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or the typical colour red, as a typical variety of the flower.

An ancient passion

Up until the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 A.D.), the peony was renowned as the official national flower of China, as per appointment by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1903. As a matter of fact, Chinese passion for this flower sprang around 1,400 years ago. During the Tang Dynasty (around 600 A.D.) peonies started to be employed to decorate the imperial gardens and soon began to spread everywhere else in China. An imperial emblem of opulence and beauty, peonies were featured in paintings and textiles, as well as used in poetical allegories to celebrate the prosperity of the nation. Among the most valuable, the red ones represent wealth, while white peonies symbolize the beauty and cheerfulness of Chinese young girl.

Cultivating national pride

After the Cultural Revolution, the Peony is not recognised the official status of national flower anymore, though its fame and glorious reputation is unvaried in the heart of the Chinese people as it embodies the national hope for an ever-growing prosperity. Over the last twenty years people already expressed their willing twice by casting a ballot (one in 1994 and one 2003) for a renovated official acknowledgment by the Government of the peony as a national emblem. The proposal is still pending.

Although Chinese peonies can be found almost everywhere in the country, Luoyang (Henan Province, Eastern China) is certainly the best place to admire their beautiful blossoms. Renowned as the city of peonies, Luoyang offers a spectacular Peony garden showcasing over 500 varieties in full bloom. The garden is famous for hosting a peony high over 3 metres and as old as 1,600 years.

A view of Luoyang Peony Garden

Flowers in Chinese traditional fashion: take your pick!

The passion for flowers is vividly featured in the traditional apparel of Chinese people.

Back in the 60s Scott McKenzie used to sing “if you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair”. If you insteadwant to wear flowers everywhere, check out our exclusive florid collection of handmade Qipaos!

Amongst the 56 minorities in China, Miao people hold pomegranate blossoms 石榴花 (Shíliú huā) particularly at heart. A national cultural heritage as enlisted by UNESCO, Miao embroidery features pomegranate flowers to symbolise the wish for prosperity. If you want a taste of this true textile rarity, check out these handmade bags that our Miao artisan partners have created exclusively for our costumers!

If you smell a nice deal… Discover these and more products on InteractChina.com!


About Interact China 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

Shape

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!  
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Ikat, the ancient art of cloud weaving

Written by Maria

Feeling blue today? If you know what Ikat is, you may agree that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Coming from the Malay-Indonesian word mengikat (to tie), Ikat is an ancient textile art particularly diffused in Southeast Asia, particularly in China, Indonesia and Thailand.

The technique is complex and time-consuming, mainly consisting in dyeing the cotton yarns before weaving.

Named after such technique, the Ikat fabric can come in a variety of colours and patterns, although one of the most popular variations is the blue-patterned one. Ikat weavers use pigments of indigo, the local plant which famously gives the characteristic colour to denim, to obtain the particularly dense, sky-like blue. This is probably why in Persia Ikat technique is known as abr brandi, which literally means tying the clouds.

Origins

Although its origins are highly debated, Ikat is probably one of the most ancient and unique textile techniques of Asia. The earliest historical record was found in China and dates back to the 6th Century, though there is track that the technique has been used in India at least since the 7th century and developed in other Asian Countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Surprisingly, Ikat has also widely flourished in Latin American countries such as Peru and Guatemala since ancient times, where it developed independently of the Eastern world.

Ikat was brought to Europe by Dutch and Spanish explorers from Asia and Latin America during Colonialism, started in the 7th Century.

The traditional patterns of Ikat used to be entrenched of spiritual meaning. In particular, Ikat used to be a symbol of wealth. Until recent times, in Southeast Asia only aristocrats were allowed to wear Ikat fabric. The rule, also sanctioned with death punishment, slowly disappeared because of the colonialist pressures to trade and diffuse the product abroad, which led to its largest diffusion in the 20th Century.

Process

Just like batik and tie-dye, Ikat is obtained with a resist-dyeing method, mainly by controlling the colour spread so that it does not reach all the fabric. The purpose is to create the patterns out of the contrast between coloured and uncoloured areas.

The difference between Ikat and other famous resist-dyeing techniques like Batik or Tie-dye, is that dyeing is applied before and not after weaving. First, the design is marked onto the yarns. Then, the unmarked areas are then tied with rubber, wax or other materials, to avoid that the colour penetrates them.

The yarns are then dyed with the use of a straw. Finally, the yarns are untied and woven in the loom. Dyeing is fundamental to the creation of the patterns. A variation of Ikat is double Ikat, where both the warp and the weft are dyed.

If you want to know more about Ikat, watch the following video to see how ikat is made! https://youtu.be/3OAnnvPEOl8

If you have fallen in love with Ikat, please have a look on our new sleek line of blue scarves on InteractChina.com. Enjoy!

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Crying In Their Shoes: The Cruel Myth Of Foot-binding

Written by Maria Giglio

Have you ever seen a foot fitting in the palm of your hand that is not that of a child?

Female foot-binding is a practice as old as a millennium that used to be widespread among Chinese women until earlier 21st Century and was officially banned in 1912 by the Republic of China.   

You may wonder why the practice had been around for so long, and the answer is not that easy.  

In China, a lotus foot, as small as 3 inches, was considered a symbol of feminine beauty, sensuality and elegance.  

Fitting in the lotus feet 

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and took about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet were bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and took about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet were bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

After the treatment, girls had to walk for long so to facilitate the breaking of their arches so that heal and shoe would crush together to fit in smaller shoes.  

Origins of Foot-binding 

There are many versions about the origin of foot-binding. What is certain is that this practice was particularly popular during Song dynasty. However, a common belief relates the invention of foot-binding to the period of Tang dynasty, around the 10th Century and thus before the Song. Emperor Yu Li asked his concubine Yao Niang to dance on her toes on a six-foot tall golden lotus. Yao Niang binded her feet in white silk so to perform the dance which was so enchanting that every woman in Court had wanted to imitate her ever since. 

Historically, the first archeologic evidence about foot-binding in Ancient China dates to 1243, during the Song period, in the tomb of a 17-year-old girl named Huang Sheng.  

Meaning and spread of foot-binding 

Foot-binding had never been imposed by law. Then why did it last for so long in first place? As already mentioned, a lotus foot was an aesthetic requirement for a Chinese woman and soon became a status symbol. Women with bound feet were typically regarded as particularly attractive and seductive. This is also encouraged by the soft and slow way in which women need to walk because of the pain and uneasiness caused by the binding. 

Among many aspects, one important reason why foot-binding had been widespread until later years is its relation to Han culture. After their invasion of China in 1636 and the establishment of Qing dynasty, the Manchus imposed to the conquered their costumes and traditions and among made several attempts to ban foot-binding. Consequently, Han people, who also represent the majority of Chinese nowadays, kept practicing foot-binding as a way of resistance to the ‘barbaric’ oppressors who, on their side, stopped trying to ban it. 

During the Qing Dynasty and up until the 19th Century, bounded feet increasingly became a mark of beauty and turned into an advantage for finding a wealthy husband.

After the arise of many protests within the Chinese community, in 1912 the Republic of China officially banned foot-binding, but lack of enforcement and resistance didn’t stop it from being diffused until 1990s, when the practice had disappeared with the last generation of lotus feet women. By the end of the 20st Century all shoe factories in China had closed due to the lack of demand. The last factory, Zhiqiang in Harbin, was shut in 1999 with all the unsold stock being donated to the Heilongjiang Museum of Ethnography.       

Pleasure and Pain: Lotus Shoes 

Because of the pain caused by the broken bones and the awkward position of the feet, women could barely walk and so spent a lot of time home hand-sewing and embroidering to embellish their lotus shoes. 

But what did this footwear look like? As the name suggests, the lotus shoes recalled the shape of a lotus blossom with their cone shape. They were usually made of cotton and silk and enriched with fine embroidered or hand-sewn patterns, representing animals, flowers or ‘shou’, the symbol of longevity.  

The style and colour of lotus shoes varied according to the occasion. For example, while brides typically wore red shoes, the colour yellow was usually reserved to aristocracy, Imperial members, and in general wealthier classes. 

A painful expression of Chinese pride 

Nowadays, foot-binding is quickly stigmatised as an unnecessary and cruel practice aimed at perfect female bodies, compared to tight corsets. But the truth is much more complex than that, and the story of foot-binding tells us that there was a time when cultural identity would have been defended at any cost. 

Are you curious to see lotus shoes live? Check out the following collections around the globe: 


About Interact China 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

Shape

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!  
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

In the Mood for Love: Qipaos in Storytelling

By Rinto Fujimoto

Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love presents us with an impressive collection of qipaos which may remind some of us of a bygone era. The movie is set in 1962, based on the lives of the Shanghai diaspora of Hong Kong who fled from the terror of revolution present in mainland China at that time. It follows the peculiar relationship developed by two neighbours, Mr Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) who bond over the infidelity of their respective partners. The movie is beautifully shot with each scene having its own unique charm but inevitably, our eyes are drawn towards one element: Mrs Chan’s stunning qipaos.

In this article, I am going to explore the role played by qipaos in storytelling and share with you some photos of my favourite scenes.

 

Mrs Chow’s Emotions and Her Qipaos

The feelings that transpire the most from the main characters are melancholy and loneliness. It is somewhat ironic that despite seeing the two characters often surrounded by neighbours and co-workers, we feel as if there is a barrier separating them from the others. This feeling of isolation is beautifully captured by a scene in which Mrs Chan orders noodles at an eatery which she regularly frequents: her elegant qipao makes her seem out of place, in contrast with the grey and dim surroundings of the street eatery.

In fact, her wardrobe of more than 20 qipaos reveals more about her than the emotions she lets out: the floral patterns emphasize her vulnerability, the colour green her jealousy, red her love for Mr Chow …

 

Qipaos Throughout the Course of the Movie

Besides love, the passing of time is another central theme in the movie. Despite the apparent continuity between some scenes, Mrs Chan’s qipaos are often the only indicator that two similar scenes take place at different points in time and that their relationship evolves over several months. For example, she wears a charming light blue qipao with a daffodil pattern in one restaurant scene and a more elegant, black and white qipao with elegantly designed colour gradation in the following scene.

This repetition of similar scenes suggests that Mr Chow and Mrs Chan have, on several occasions, been out together. Yet, we feel a deep sense of frustration when we observe that despite the passing of time, they are unable to fall fully in love with each other. In fact, both characters are only able to express their feelings for each other through the re-enactment of their partners’ affairs, denying that they too are in love. As Mrs Chan puts it: “We will never be like them.”

 

One Frame, One Painting

In addition to the plot, the beauty of each shot is perhaps what makes In the Mood for Love such an exceptional movie. Critics have often noted the frequent use of a frame within a frame by Wong Kar Wai to add depth to his shots, and it is not uncommon to see a scene that is filmed through a window or a doorway. From the viewer’s perspective, this creates the feeling that we are examining a painting, with our sight fixated on one element: the qipao worn by Maggie Leung. Here, one particular scene that comes to my mind is the moment when Mrs Chan thoughtfully stares towards the camera in her daffodil qipao, surrounded on both sides by flowery curtains.

To me, the colours and composition of the scenes are reminiscent of an impressionist painting. The aesthetics of the movie might explain why so many people watched In the Mood for Love multiple times, as there are always more details to discover with each viewing.

Did this article arouse your curiosity? If you haven’t yet watched In the Mood for Love, here is the film’s trailer to give you an overview:

Also, if you felt inspired by Maggie Leung’s elegant style, you may want to check out our store at InteractChina.com! Here, we offer a large collection of handmade high-quality qipaos that will bring a touch of oriental elegance to your wardrobe.

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Wedding Dresses of Chinese Ethnic Minorities

Written by Sabrina Bennis

China is home to 56 different ethnic groups, giving place to a great variety of different wedding customs and rituals. Although nowadays it is frequent that couples decide to wear modern Western wedding clothes, many preserve their tradition and cultural background. Let us look at some of the most beautiful wedding gowns of five Chinese ethnic minorities.

The Miao

The main feature of the Miao’s wedding attire is the finely embroidered dress and the intricate silver ornaments.  Embroidery is a traditional Miao skill that girls are taught by their mothers since a young age. The first work of embroidery that a girl undertakes, at the age of seven or eight, is her wedding dress, which she will finish the day of her marriage. In the Miao culture, the ability of a woman to produce beautiful embroidery is as important a marriageable asset.

miao 3

The bride’s finely embroidered wedding dress is complemented by silver jewelry. It is comprised of silver tiara hairpins, combs and earrings, a silver collar and chains, silver chaplets and necklaces, as well as rings and bangles worn on the wrist and the ankles. Parents start collecting silver jewelry for their daughter’s wedding as infants. On the day she gets married, a Miao woman can wear up to 10 kg of exquisitely fashioned silver. The more the merrier, as these ornaments are not only a symbol of feminine beauty but also a sign of social status representing the bride’s family wealth.

 

The Hmong

The Hmong people are a sub-group of the Miao ethnic group. Wedding attires of this minority are very colorful and are usually made of pleated batik with appliqué decorations. Women typically wear a skirt and a jacket, both of which are covered with an apron that is worn in front of them and tied at the back. The jacket and the apron are decorated with multicolored beads. The bride also wears a big embroidered headdress that is also adorned with colorful beads hanging from it.

hmong 2hmong

 

The Qiang

The Qiang people mainly live in mountainous regions in the northwestern part of Sichuan province. The female wedding attire is an ankle-long red dress and an apron tied around the waist. Embroidery has a deep cultural value for the Qiang people, and just as it is the case with the Miao, women get taught this skill from a young age. Therefore, the wedding dresses are decorated with rich embroidery, usually flowery patterns. The colors most used are red, blue, yellow, green, and pink.

qiang2qiang 2qiang

Brides also wear a vertically-inclined embroidered headdress with plum blossom ornamentation. Qiang people wear YunYun shoes, a kind of handmade cloth shoe that has the shape of a boat and has cloud pattern on it.

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The Bai

Just as in the Western culture, Bai brides wear white at their wedding.  However, instead of a long dress, they wear a top and pants. White is the favorite color of this ethnic minority, representing dignity and a high social status. The other dominant color of the Bai wedding attire is red. Over these garments, Bai women wear a delicate and finely embroidered waistcoat and apron, which tend to be red, green, light blue and rose; and are adorned with camellia flowers because they are believed to symbolize beauty.

 

Depending on the area, Bai women also wear charming headdresses that nicely match with their clothes. Although the traditional Bai wedding attire has some colorful touches, it maintains a simple yet elegant style.

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The Mongols

Mongolian couples wear traditional clothing called Del which is made from cotton and silk with patterns. Typically, the groom wears dark colored Del and the bride lighter colors such as red and pink. The female tunic is long-sleeved and is decorated with intricate appliqué brocade.

Mongols2

 

Brides also wear elaborated traditional jewelry around their neck and hanging from their hair. Gemstones and semi-precious stones such as Turquoise and Sapphires are favorites of the Mongolian people. A headdress is worn by both the groom and the bride, but its shape and adornments vary from place to place.

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

CHINESE LADY LINGERIE IN ANCIENT CHINA (6) Time-Travel Dudou

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

In recent years,oriental beauty has been increasingly favored by designers all over the world. Dudou is considered as one of the most classic elements on both domestic and international fashion show stages.

In 2015, Taiwan’s leading lingerie brand, Wacoal, held a grand 45th Anniversary feast in Taipei (the capital of Taiwan). They made a special display of antique Dudou that have been collected over the years.

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Beginning with six sets of antique Dudous,the event then featured ten sets of creative Dudous. Wacoal used modern technology of papercut, 3D print, and LED to present ancient Dudous to audience.

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In the same year, a fashion designer brought Chinese style to the London Fashion Week. He combined traditional Chinese embroidery with western-style tailoring. This changed westerners’ impression of the Chinese Dudou. Styling it on a western male model showed another interpretation of the Chinese Dudou to the world.

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In the 2015 Shenzhen Fashion Week of Original Design, fashion designer Sun Haitao designed a collection of creative children’s clothing using the element of Dudou.

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https://v.qq.com/x/cover/dsse9apufg03h8x/b017607nki9.html

Not only on the stage, but also in the deep alleys of Beijing there are Dudou brands. One example is Pillowbook, a lingerie brand studio. It differs from the traditional design of the souvenir shop which have large red embroidered pattern. Pillowbook uses simple lines. The use of traditional pane element on the neckline design shows us a different Chinese style. This brand creates their product exclusively with silk cloth. They pack their products with rice paper and there is a handwritten washing label and a rope tie. The Dudou of Pillowbook can be worn both inside and outside. The designer Irene looks forward to adding more modern elements to Dudou and integrating them naturally into daily life.

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Different people have different interpretations of traditional Chinese lingerie. We hope that more and more people would be willing to spend time in appreciating those beautiful handcrafted products and Chinese culture. At the same time, it would be great if more and more designers give Dudou new interpretations to preserve and spread the artistic and skillful design over the world.

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

CHINESE LADY LINGERIE IN ANCIENT CHINA (4) – Exquisite Techniques

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

A variety of techniques are used in the decoration of traditional Chinese women’s lingerie such as embroidery, inlay, appliqué, patch and more. Those techniques have distinctive processes and fine degree.

“Embroidery” is divided into four major categories, satin stitch, coil stitch, hand sewn stitch, and braid stitch.

  • Satin stitch is also called painting embroidery. The embroidery patterns are mainly in small size, and the stitches are parallel and arranged neatly. It was used more common in the Song and Yuan dynasties.

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Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

  • Among all kinds of coil stitches, seed stitch is the most distinctive one. Though the stitching process is simple, it produces a solid aesthetic effect.

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Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

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  • Hand sewn stitches are hand sewn sequins and appliqués used to decorate lady lingerie.

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Part Dudou: Period – The Republic of China Era

 

  • Braid stitch was not used very much in traditional Chinese lingerie. In general, the ancient people in China used “cross-stitch embroidery”.

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Part Corset: Period – The Republic of China Era

 

The ancient people of China were good at decorating lingerie with golden line embroidery.

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Part Dudou: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty

 

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Part Dudou: Period – The Republic of China Era

 

 

“Inlay” refers to the use of a decorative strip of cloth /lace /embroidery sewn on the edge of underwear to form a decoration. This brocade (a type of tightly woven fabric) shows the idea of trimming the edge with exquisite silk.

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Part Corset: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty

 

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Part Corset: Period – The Republic of China Era ·

 

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Part Corset: Period – The Early Qing Dynasty

 

“Trimming”/ “rolling off” is the process of wrapping the edges with cloth.

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Part Corset: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty

 

“Appliqué” is a quick stitching decoration technique, an integration of embroidery and other processes to form a flat or semi perspective effect.

 

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

This Dudou is appliquéd with pre-cut patterns and decorated with satin stitch.

 

The “patching” is a process of sewing different pieces of cloth together. It has the meaning of “mending the deficiency” and is the icing on the cake for the Dudou.

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Paddy Field Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

Exquisite craftsmanship is also reflected in the arrangement of layers and the refinement of the decorations. Decorating the connected parts with frog buttons make the underwear more attractive.

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

The garment technique of Chinese traditional underwear is in line with the concept of “harmony between man and nature” and, in particular, the “round sky and square earth” theory. The lower part of the garment is “the circle shape in the front and the square shape in the back”. Putting the pattern of the Ruyi and butterfly in front of the chest is a metaphor of “lucky arrival ”.

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Part Nashao: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

The ancient Chinese people also use batik, hand-painting and other techniques to enrich the style and effect of women lingerie.

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Underwear Cloth: Period – The Republic of China era

 

They not only use silk, brocade and other premium quality fabric, they also use homespun cotton, cambric and fine bamboo to create lingerie.

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Hollowed Out Clothes: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

To connect each part with bead is also one of the most ingenious techniques.

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Dudou: Period – Late Qing Dynasty

 

The spinning technique weaves and wraps fabric into different kinds of tassels. This is very imaginative.

 

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Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

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Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

 

The beautiful lingerie was made simply by a small piece of cloth and with different stitching methods. The lingerie had infinite possibilities of design, full of imagination and creativity. The wisdom of ancient people in China has amazed the world!

 

This article refers to 《Fantasy Beyond Body: The Civilization of Chinese Underwear in Ancient Times》

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese Shoe Culture(IV)The Multi-Layer Sole

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

The craft of multi-layer-sole cloth shoes was a remarkable achievement in Chinese shoe making history, carrying tremendous history, culture and craft value. It has been listed on China’s second intangible cultural heritage list since 2008. The shoe sole is made of many layers of cloth stitched together under fine processes.

The earliest shoes with sewn soles began in the Zhou dynasty. According to archeological research, these stitched soles were first used in the army because of the requirement for abrasion-resistant shoes. Then, these shoes with sewn soles become popular among the public. This was the first time that friction theory was used in shoe design in China.

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In the Qing dynasty, sewn sole shoes evolved into multi-layer-sole shoes which is famous around the world. There is a set of strict procedures for the making of multi-layer-sole shoes. The shoes are good at heat releasing in summer, and can keep feet warm in winter. The modern multi-layer-sole shoes are quite different from the traditional ones. Whether in design or in material, modern multi-layer shoes align with the current aesthetic trend of returning to nature.

4 内联升大鱼海棠系列女鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng Women’s Shoes Series with Big Fish and Begonia Design

(NeiLianSheng is a brand)

4 内联升西瓜圆口布鞋.pngNeiLianSheng’s Watermelon Round-Opening Sewn Shoes

4 内联升千彩女鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng’s Colorful Women’s Shoes

4 内联升织锦婚鞋.pngNeiLianSheng’s Brocade Wedding Shoes

4 内联升蓝印花布方口女鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng’s Indigo Printed Square-Opening Women’s Shoes

4 内联升花卉女鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng’s Floral Women’s Shoes

4 内联升纯手工僧侣凉鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng’s Handmade Monk Sandals

4 内联升锦衣卫手绘工作鞋.jpgNeiLianSheng’s Imperial Guards’ Working Shoes

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese Shoe Culture(V)Colorful Tribal Shoes

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

The vast and fertile land of China gives birth to multi-ethnic cultures. Footwear also shows astonishing changes with civilizations from different geographical circumstances.

5满族黑贡呢云纹双梁花鞋.jpgManchu Black Tribute Flower Shoes with Double Beams · The Late Qing Dynasty and Early Period of the Republic of China

Manchu women wore flag shoes, and Manchu men wore boots. Most of the flag shoes were embedded with double beams, but some were sewed in cloud patterns with brocade, called “cloud shoes”. Manchu women’s shoes were divided into flat sole types and high sole types. Some of the high-sole shoes had the design of a “horse hoof”.

5藏族红黑毛呢绣花长靴.jpgTibetan Thigh Wool Boots with Red and Black Embroidery · Contemporary

There are many kinds of Tibetan boots, which can be roughly divided into 3 types: cow leather boots, corduroy boots, and woolen cotton boots. However, there is no difference between men and women’s boots. They were only different in height and thickness.

5侗族挽针绣翘头绣花鞋.jpgDong Tribe’s Warped Head Shoes with Double Chain Stitch Embroidery · Contemporary.

5侗族马尾绣翘头绣花鞋.jpgDong Tribe’s Warped Head Shoes with Horsetail Embroidery · Contemporary

The Dong tribe’s embroidered warped head shoes, also called “hook shoes,” had a pointed end like a ship’s bow or an ox’s horn, a symbol that payed respect to nature and animals. Many Chinese ethnic groups make symmetrical shoes. This simplifies the shoe-making process, and also reduces the difference in abrasion between the two sides caused by constant wearing.

5鄂温克族犴皮靴.jpgEwenki Tribe’s Dog Skin Boots · Contemporary

Before the late Qing dynasty, the Ewenki people made all their clothes from animal skin, as they lived in a cold region and made use of animal husbandry. Their hide boots were warm, portable, and resilient. Walking with Ewenkian hide boots in snow and in mountains made only tiny sounds, which was helpful for hunting.

5鄂温克族犴腿皮靴.jpgEwenki Tribe’s Dog Skin Boots · Contemporary

Ewenki people wear dog skin boots all year round. Generally the summer’s boots are hairless. In winter, people put wula grass, one of the three treasures of Dongbei province, in their shoes to keep their feet warm.

5青海互助土族绣花鞋.jpgEmbroidered Shoes of Tu Ethnic Group in Qinghai Province · Contemporary

5青海互助土族腰鞋.jpgThigh Boots of Tu Ethnic Group in Qinghai Province · Contemporary

Tu embroidery features delicate stitches, vibrant colors, compact woven structures, and is easy to preserve. Patterns on these shoes are mainly made by simple stiches using bright colors, and show the unique artistic attraction of the Tu people’s embroidery. Rainbow-patterned decoration is usually on Tu women’s clothing, and therefore the ethnic area in Qinghai province is known as the “rainbow town”.

5四川茂汶羌族花鞋.jpgEmbroidered Shoes and Hand-sewn Soles of Maowen Qiang Ethnic Group in Sichuan Province · Contemporary

The cloud shoes, often with embroidered soles, are homemade cotton shoes which the Qiang people wear on holidays. The shoes represent love in Qiang’s traditions.

5赫哲族鱼皮鞋.jpgFish Leather Shoes of the Hezhen Ethnic Group · Contemporary

The Hezhen ethnic group lives along the Songhua River, earning their livelihoods by fishing and hunting. Using fish skin to make clothing, including jackets, pants, bags, and shoes, is the Hezhen ethnic group’s distinct traditional skill.

5白族女花鞋.jpgEmbroidered Shoes of Bai Ethnic Group · Contemporary

Ladies from the Bai tribe also have handmade shoe traditions.

5保安族黑贡缎刺绣女夹袜.jpgBlack Sateen Embroidered Women’s Socks from Baoan Ethnic Group · Contemporary

The Baoan ethnic group’s traditional “shoe-socks,” also known as “worship shoes,” are usually taken off in mosques. Since the bottom of the socks are the hells are shown during worship service, the Baoan people sewed exquisite flower patterns to the bottom of the heel of the “shoe-socks.”

As we can see, there are countless achievements of Chinese handcrafted art.

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!