Fashion in Altermodern China examines key features of women’s fashion within the cultural and political context of contemporary China. While global brands and styles heavily influence Chinese consumer trends, the Chinese fashion ‘system’ is formed of its own internal logics and emergent trends, too. Adopting the theoretical term ‘altermodern’, Feng Jie encourages us to view China in terms of its rapid modernization which presents its own rhythms and meanings, and argues persuasively that Chinese fashion can’t be wholly understood in terms of a Western discourse of modernity, postmodernity and the global.
Expanding our understanding of the fashion ‘system’, Fashion in Altermodern China takes on board new trends in global trade, new technologies, and the hybridity of designs and consumption of fashion. Through critical readings of Barthes, on the ‘neutral’, and Jullien, on ‘blandness’, both directly influenced by Asian philosophies, the author offers a new perspective on Chinese fashion, arguing that, while global-local contexts lead to identifiably postmodern and hybrid aesthetics, for women in contemporary China the flux and mix of available fashions is experienced in a more open neutral manner than scholars have previously described. Crucially, then, rather than position trends in China only in terms of ‘hybridity’ (which betrays a Western bias and a binary logic of host-recipient), there are more fluid ways in which we need to understand how women engage in fashion in China today.