Pink in a decidedly Japanese way, Fang Yuan also does hair at Xidan. She didn’t have a chance to speak before I was swarmed with male stylists criticizing my haircut.
Xidan strives to be Shibuya, the amazing epicenter of Japanese street style, but often achieves a rugged flavor of its own, more suited to Beijing. Before their encasement in drab Western business attire – China’s selection in formal clothing is quite boring and generally of low quality – Beijing young people get the chance to experiment with quirky looks from Japan and Korea. This rare style reservoir, where nearly every pedestrian makes some kind of effort to stand out, presents the challenge of sifting through overwhelming crowds and persuading those with the most tasteful or unique outfits to pose. In Xidan, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of people. It is not really like this in the rest of Beijing, which is spread-out and does not feel as crowded as Manhattan or Hong Kong.
Unlike in more Eastern parts of the city, shoppers at Xidan often have no concept of what Stylites in Beijing could possibly be and I was accused more than once of being a wretch up to some foul tricks.