This is an interesting use of color that seems concurrently dowdy and fresh, which is in some ways what I always like to find. Who wears a plaid vest over an oversized hoodie – with a cut-off denim skirt underneath and in bright colors like this? She seems like she is from a very avant-garde village. Her field of study, business management, could force her in the direction of somberness in dress before long.
Only one Tibetan has appeared on Stylites. The photo was taken with my former, rather terrible, camera.
What is chic in Tokyo or Helsinki? Style conscious people discuss on the internet what is worn on the streets of this world, and they thereby change elite models worldwide.
The man whom Nels Frye spotlighted did not look especially good, but he was worth a second glance. Frye met him on Changan Avenue in Beijing, a type with an unusually long beard [NF Note: I described him as "Jesus-like"], Adidas-like shoes and checkered coat and a cane. In no way a model, but that man had style, an unusual sort of boho, so typical of China in a state of explosion, the birth of a new creative class, said Frye. [NF Note: Collecting bottles definitely demands resourcefulness but I’m not sure about creativity. He addressed the man, asked permission to take a photo and put it on his blog. A little later came the first comments. On Frye’s website a small debate erupted. This photo inspired Nels so much that from then on he travelled all over Beijing with his camera. He photographed girls, ones who have cut their hair like Manga figures, young men with beards, pea jackets, pants with piped jeans and zebra stripes, and he put their photos on the internet.
For him street-style blogging was a hobby
So the American businessman, Nels Frye, 27, on the side, became a street style blogger. Every young person who allowed him to document the style of their city entered his blog which then was sent to the entire world. And in consequence he turned the established world model on its head.
What is important is not trends but style. Street-style bloggers show what real persons in their daily lives wear on the street and convey this to an audience of millions. Instead of showing over stylized mode-lines with skinny models, they show in their internet diaries how real people interpret a couture-circus. Not trendy but determinedly style. Everyone can comment on every picture. English is the universal language. There is no competition: it is a democratic forum for young people who express themselves and make the internet a common medium of style.
For Frye it led to this suddenly people from Chicago, Berlin or Helsinki comment on his blog with suggestions that a coat should be lengthened a bit, or that a particular outfit is well thought out. Other blogs, who do the same as Frye in Beijing, link to his site “Stylites” and from day to day the number of hits increases. Publishers of style magazibnes ask if they may use his pictures, and designers invite him to their exhibitions.
Worldwide, there are hundreds of these street-style blogs, etc……….
This piece from Der Spiegel (in German) contains quite a few mentions of Stylites and comments of mine on street style in Beijing. Germany is now the third largest source of Stylites hits, behind China (#1) and the US (#2). The city ranking is now: 1. Beijing, 2. New York, 3. Shanghai, 4. Berlin, 5. London.
The print version is in Der Spiegel from the last week in February.
Yet another little girl wielding a huge camera on Nanluoguxiang…Not long ago, any type of digital camera was a status symbol, but I fear that soon, not taking photos will be elitist thing to do, though of course we have to pass through the lomography phase first. She wears a vintage leather jacket and works in Edelman, a PR firm founded in Chicago and one of the few that is not part of the massive WPP Group. Former PR account executives appearing on Stylites all worked in subsidiaries of that group. We’ve had a young punk from Weber-Shandwick, funky Sabrina (here again) of Ogilvy, a fellow in a long cardigan from tobacco-protecting Hill and Knowlton, cute Michelle from Burson Marsteller and crafty Yuanyuan, also at one time a BM employee.
Last October while walking out of Uniqlo on Broadway I happened to run into Wynn, grandson of BM founder Harold Burson. An aspiring fashion designer in NYC, he was wearing a jacket with shoulders that stretched about a foot beyond his natural ones in both directions. A year and a half earlier, I had the honor of hosting this young man on my couch here in Beijing.
The international firms in Beijing attract fashionable and worldly young people, women mostly. Excellent written and spoken English is a must for communicating effectively with the mostly foreign clients as is an ability to function effectively in the corporate world. A fine-tuned mastery of the corporate jargon is essential. The leveraging and picking of low-hanging fruit never ends in these offices. If you want to learn more about PR in Beijing, I suggest checking out Imagethief.
Who should I run into on Gulou the other day but Xiaoyang, the photographer who formerly shot me for 1626? When he came over my place for the photoshoot last year, we finished a bottle of wine and had a great chat. At that point, he said that he didn’t have much in the way of work. Now, recession and all, he has a full-time job photographing for a magazine. Some of the pics he took of me are on the About Nels Frye and the Senli and Frye pages. This is a particular favorite.
Looted cultural relics aside, Stylites is proud to offer pieces a unique collection of vintage Yves Saint Laurent Suits and sport coats for men. This is the only collection of its type in Beijing and it is available only at Senli and Frye.
This pretty student is well-dressed but not as eye-grabbing as most on this site. She was one of hundreds of young cuties being pursued by a young boy with a huge camera on that afternoon. I photographed her mostly because she illustrates a key characteristic of one of my favorite streets for photographing, Nanluoguxiang. Many of my friends often comment on the number of young people to be found hauling dramatically sized Canons and Nikons down this trendy alley, which should be a pedestrian-only street. Recent sociological research has shown that taking photos with these monstrous gadgets in hutongs is a key courting ritual for youngsters.
John Charles is one of the creatives at Thompson Advertising, Inc here in Beijing. This look is really quite punk in a way. I always find it interesting when people can wear a single color and still make it interesting. The Thompson website says that they are “business people, helping business people take care of business…Yes, we are creative, but you couldn’t tell by looking. “ I must say that I can tell from looking at John Charles is creative.
Could one say the same of the characters from Mad Men, my current favorite TV series? Perhaps in their own day, this would be the case, though my sense is that the intention was to make their costumes seem stylishly conservative – even for their own day – rather than edgy. As it turns out, this past weekend, Yan Zhang, a successful and very interesting young entrepreneur here in Beijing, hosted a Mad Men Party. Here are some of the photos. Compare the contemporary Beijing ad man with modern interpretations of 1950s/60s Ad Men.
Investment banker Mark is wearing a Senli and Frye suit. Julie is wearing a vintage 1960s dress and brooch.
Ben is hitting the look pretty accurately. Of course, they rarely wore suits this dark in the show, but medium grays are surprisingly rare these days.
Warren is manager of Punk, the club at Opposite House, currently Beijing’s hippest boutique hotel. Bill is working at the American Embassy and wearing a lovely suit from Saville Row that is in a shade quite like what one would have seen in Mad Men. I love the green knit tie.
Yan Zhang is the man who made it all happen. Nice tie, great apartment.
Nicholas had not seen the series, but he captured the spirit very well. The hair and glasses are perfect. The vintage suit made it seem a bit like a cross between Sterling and Pete Campbell while hunting in the English countryside.
On the scene commenters at 798 praised Diesel for the creativity displayed in its new collection. I’m not a fan of the label, but I did find the hats entertaining.
Will Wu is an editor at Trends Esquire, the flagship men’s magazine of giant Trends Group, China’s leading fashion and lifestyle magazine group that publishes Bazaar, Food and Wine, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health and countless other publications with names familiar to Western readers. These magazines are entirely owned by the Trends Group and tend to use 50-90% original local content. They merely pay a licensing fee to Hearst and the other publishing groups in the US that own the rights to these publications. Readers should correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the situation is different with Condé Nast publications, Self and Vogue, which are actually part of the global corporate structure. Trends Esquire is expected to have a new competitor in the form of GQ, also from Condé Nast, later in 2009.
I don’t know that I have ever seen such an unusually cut blazer. I haven’t decided whether or not run out and commission one in tweed today.
This was striking for the blending of subtle details with a striking simplicity, at least compared to the usual visual cacophony of the streets. The cut of the coat, by an independent designer based in Beijing, and the silver shoes are perfect.
Ali Nosrati just got a new dog that he named Ikea. Ali is from Sweden, so the name is appropriate. I met Ali at the opening party for a new Guess party last year. I was very interested in the high quality bags and wallets that his brand, dowdy fourhundred, is offering.
This particularly dowdy fourhundred bag – is it a backpack or a messenger bag? – has apparently captured the imagination of Japanese buyers. At the moment, Senli and Frye is the exclusive distributor for the brand in China. Contact me if you would like further information.
Ali and his partner, Jesper, have also started a brand focused on canvas bags called TD. Immortali, focused on the needs of the modern man. I hope that Senli and Frye will be able to offer this line in the near future as well.
Also, check out Ali’s new bag blog, the Dowdy Story.
I just ran into Edie Bao a second time. This time it was in Sanlitun and we got lunch. I met her last year at a Comme des Garçons had a photography exhibit. Then, she was working as an editor at the mainland version of Milk magazine, a Hong Kong publication aimed at subculturish youth. Now Edie is working for Yoho, a mainland publication for fashion-conscious hipsters.
Shengzhou, Zhejiang, produces well over 200 million ties annually – almost all of China’s total production and at least three-quarters of the global total. Almost every major Western retailer, from H&M and Next to Ted Baker and Sean John, Walmart to Primark, sources almost the entirety of their ties from this city. Read more in my article from the February issue of China International Business. Here are some more photos that I was lucky to get during my visits to the factories.
Babei, the largest tie producer in Shengzhou and most likely the world, is also the only factory with an exterior that vaguely suggests the colors of ties. Over 70% of the 20 million ties Babei makes every year are exported.
Raw silk comes from Sichuan, Jiangsu and other provinces. It comes in a few basic colors. Dyeing – the only part of tie production that has a serious negative impact on the environment – usually occurs on the outskirts of Shengzhou.
The largest factories in Shengzhou have spinning machines that rotate at high speed 24 hours a day.
The computer-controlled looms create the fabric that are used to make ties. Just over a decade ago, there were only about ten of these machines in Shengzhou and now there are over a thousand. Babei’s factory has over a hundred – more than entire city of Como, Italy’s tie center. James Kynge, tells the story of Como’s fall and Shengzhou’s rise in his book, China Shakes the World.
Working conditions seemed quite good in the tie factories I saw. On this Babei’s factory floor, I saw ties from the following brands: Donald Trump, Sean John, Chaps, Austin Reed, Counta Mara, Tasso Elba, C&A, Zara, H&M, Marks and Spencer and Target. There were many other brands that I had not seen before.
This a large order for a children’s hospital in the United States. Most ties made in Shengzhou use polyester interlinings of the type seen here. Wool is much more expensive, but is better for the best ties.
Here is a just completed order for China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator ranked by number of subscribers, with 415 million customers. With 111,998 staff in China, one can see why this is a good client.
The producers of Shengzhou only want to do volume. There is little profit to be had from small orders that demand high quality. Thus, my mission to Shengzhou was not highly successful. The goal had been to find a factory willing to produce ties for Senli and Frye. Strangly enough we have chosen to sell ties that are made in the United States, the Hickey Style line.
My apologies for the changes in theme. The new theme should be stabilized and ready by the evening of February 16.
All content is still accessible in this period as are Senli and Frye, Marzipan and about Nels Frye.
Thank you very much for your patience.
These two high schoolers were out enjoying the weekend. I was very struck by the fellow’s trousers.
Valentine’s day is always a time of great consternation for me, so I don’t really have the spirit to say more at this point.
While browsing the interwebs, I happened upon Istanbul Street Style and Moda Turkiye, two websites focused the street scene in the second city of seven hills, capital of the Byzantines and the Ottomans. Suddenly, I am fired with a strong desire to see the place. Or I should say, to see it as a youngish man. I was there several times as a boy and the trips stand out mainly for the fake rolexes purchased there.
These websites make the city seem funky, unfettered, creative, and relaxed. The style and vibe of the people reminds me of Berlin. In recent years, I have visited Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Tehran, which were all dull and depressing compared to Istanbul. This is hardly surprising, given that their three countries are about to play leading roles in Armageddon, but I’m still surprised at just how Westernized and vibrant Istanbul seems compared to Beirut. Half of it is in Europe. Anyway, I must learn more.
My reaction to these websites is some proof that there is a business opportunity in linking street fashion websites to tourism.
Still no Valentine’s Day gift for that special guy? We have two great ideas, both of which can be purchased at Senli and Frye.
Dowdy fourhundred leather bags are what every stylish white collar fellow requires. They are durable, made of the best calf leather, and stylish in a very understated way. Check their site for more information. At present, Senli and Frye is the exclusive distributor for this Swedish line here in China.
This one is by far the most deviant and naughty of the Hickey Style ties now available at Senli and Frye. Straight from Soho and woven of silk or wool in the United States or Italy, this is the freshest tie line I have seen for a while. These are in the slim style we all love now. I guarantee that you will not find these anywhere else in Beijing.
Please go to Senli and Frye for more information or email email@example.com.
Stylites attempts to profile the most distinctive and/or stylish pedestrians on the streets of Beijing. Google Analytics (it’s such a blast) shows which cities are most interested in this subject. The largest source of hits is Beijing. Next is Shanghai and not too far behind is New York. After that, there is a big gap before Singapore and San Francisco, which are about equal.
3. New York
5. San Francisco
Just behind are Hong Kong, Chicago, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, London, Hangzhou, and Sydney. Despite great interest from New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, no other US cities produce serious traffic. After China and the United States, the country sending the most viewers is the United Kingdom.
Several of my posts and articles rail against the shapeless puffy coats that too many women resort to during Beijing’s winters, which are really neither cold nor long these years. Though they may not provide as much warmth, my preference is always for wool coats. This is not to say that a puffy coat cannot look good, as this young lady proves.
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