Ao Dai - the pride of Vietnam's national costume

"This story sets out a lesson about building a brand for Vietnamese Ao Dai in particular and Vietnamese cultural brands in general, so that helps not only Vietnamese cultural and artistic products create economic values for the country, but also affirm Vietnamese cultural values in the world and avoid piracy."

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bui Hoai Son (Director of Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts)

Top Ten Reviews introduces readers to the opinions of cultural experts and designers around this issue.

According to Designer Minh Hanh:

Cultural appropriation is very dangerous

Chinese fashion brand Ne-Tiger introduces an identical collection of Vietnamese ao dai models as a dangerous cultural appropriation, a form of "cow's tongue line" in culture.

In my opinion, Vietnam cannot bring the Ao Dai to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for intellectual property registration because the intellectual property registration belongs to a specific individual. Therefore, the Vietnamese side must announce the Ao Dai as the national costume to solve the problem. If we don't, we will again be "offside" like the times when the map has a "cow's tongue line" in-car GPS in movies...

Fashion brand Ne-Tiger is one of the leading and influential brands in the fashion field in China. With its influence, Ne-Tiger can completely turn the Vietnamese Ao Dai into the ordinary clothes of the people of a particular province in China if we do not register intellectual property.

Designer Si Hoang:

My culture, I have to keep it myself

About 11 years ago, on the occasion of participating in an exchange program to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan relations, with the Lotus Music and Dance Troupe to Japan, the leader of the delegation and I was Mrs. Nguyen The Thanh, former deputy director of the Department of Literature. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, visited the Kimono Museum in Tokyo.

At that time, the museum had an exhibition of 5,000 years of Chinese costumes. At the last glass cabinet, both Ms. The Thanh and I were surprised to see a turquoise Vietnamese silk dress inside, including a conical hat and wooden clogs. They clearly state "Chinese Modern Clothing".

Because the museum does not allow photography, I was not able to record. Looking at that display, we were both angry and worried. When I returned to Vietnam, although I did not have enough funds, I still rushed to build the Ao Dai Museum (District 9, Ho Chi Minh City) so that four years later, the museum would be inaugurated.

In the past 11 years, I have mentioned this story in exchanges about preserving and promoting Ao Dai. When I meet students, I often ask them, in addition to the Ao Dai uniform, if they have any other Ao Dai in their closet, and it's unfortunate when many students say they don't have one.

I think that Ao Dai is the wearing culture of Vietnamese people. If you want to keep that culture, you have to wear it. Wearing Ao Dai is not only beautiful but also the responsibility of every citizen. Culture can only be preserved firmly and promote its value when it is lived in the heart of daily life.

If I don't keep my culture, no one will keep it for me!

Mr. DIEGO CHULA (Spanish designer who has lived and worked in Vietnam for many years):

It's a cultural appropriation

I think the fact that the Chinese designer accepted that collection as their creation is miserable for them. This is cultural appropriation with Vietnamese ao dai and conical hats.

In my opinion, Ao Dai is the cultural identity of Vietnam. One can see the long history of the Vietnamese Ao Dai from the last century through painting, poetry, music, photography, and cinema.

I don't think this Chinese designer will succeed in taking Ao Dai as an innovative Chinese product because the world knows the relationship between Vietnam and Ao Dai.

Excerpt from the article "Vietnamese Ao Dai is considered a "creative" of a Chinese fashion brand" by D.K.Thoa:

At the Spring Summer Fashion Week 2019 in Beijing on October 25, 2018, Ne-Tiger - a domestic Chinese fashion brand - announced many fashion collections. Some designs show a copy of the Vietnamese traditional ao dai but are presented as the "creation" of the designer.

On October 25, also in Beijing, Spring Summer Fashion Week 2020 featured this Ne-Tiger fashion brand. CGTN (China) quoted Mr. Zhang Zhifeng, the founder of the Ne-Tiger brand, stating his point of view "when creating the collection, I emphasized the beauty and dignity of the clothes. Traditional Chinese".

He also said: "While preserving the tradition, I have always paid attention to blending modernity and recent global elements to be accepted by consumers around the world."

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