After being seemingly forgotten for a time, handmade traditional ao dai are making a comeback as a way for the young generation to express respect and honour with the traditional cultural values of the nation.
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Wearing ao dai in the Lunar New Year has become a favourite habit of many Vietnamese in recent years, but they have often been in the form of an innovative ao dai, while the traditional version with high neck design and close-fitting body often takes more courage to wear.
However, this thinking has seemingly changed in recent times, with the traditional ao dai becoming the best-selling item at some stores or tailors.
Thuy Hana, the owner of a fashion store on Cau Giay street in Hanoi, said that her store importedmore than 300 new models of ao dai and sold out about two weeks before the Lunar New Year holiday.
“Customers’ preferences for wearing ao dai have changed. Traditional types made of velvet or hand-embroidered motifs were popular and sold out first. But some models from previous years, which previously sold very well, were slow to move this year,” said Thuy.
Hue Nguyen, a primary school teacher in Dong Da district of Hanoi, said that her job often requires wearing ao dai. Hue shared that years ago she often did not bother to wear them because she thought that they were unfashionable. This view has changed since Nguyen saw more young people, including fashionistas, choosing to wear ao dai during the Lunar New Year.
“Fashion trends change and traditional values are increasingly cherished. I am also more mature, so I feel that simple ao dai and limited innovative details are also more appropriate. These elegant designs can be worn to go out and go to the temple,” she added.
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According to art critic Nguyen Duc Binh, the trend of wearing ao dai during the New Year’s first days has existed for many years but started to explode in the last few years when the costume appeared on social networks and media.
“Many young people consider wearing it as a new fashion trend, but it is actually an expression of returning to tradition. This is a good sign of the cultural transformation in the integration period,” said Binh.
Ao dai is considered a traditional costume of the Vietnamese people associated with the history of more than 1,000 years of establishment of Thang Long - Hanoi.
This is also the costume often chosen by Vietnamese women to wear during Lunar New Year holidays, anniversaries, and festivals of the country. At most beauty pageants in Vietnam, the ao dai contest has become ever-present.
In the past, the outfit used to be the main business product in some streets of Hanoi such as Cau Go street in Hang Trong ward or Trach Xa village in Ung Hoa district. However, nowadays, ao dai has become a more popular business item with the appearance of local brands such as Xeo Xo, Huulala, Thanh Mai, Lan Huong, and Ngoc Han.
Along with the return of the traditional ao dai for women, other traditional costumes such as suits and handmade leather shoes for men have gradually returned to attention. A part of consumers, including young consumers and foreigners living in Vietnam, also began to look to heirloom tailors or artisans who make handmade leather shoes that are not mass-produced.
The traditional garment villages of Hanoi in the past such as Cuu village and Trach Xa village have gradually disappeared due to the modern rhythm of life. However, the appearance of young actors developing traditional fashion products, or elderly artisans who continue to maintain their heirlooms, have contributed to spreading Vietnamese cultural beauty.
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An Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long dress) performance event named “Ao Dai Cua Chung Ta” (Our Ao dai) has been held in Hanoi recently, aiming at honouring and promoting the traditional costume of Vietnam.
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A special “ao dai” (traditional long dress of Vietnam) show was held at Yen Tu historic and landscape site in the northern province of Quang Ninh’s Uong Bi district on April 23, aiming to honour the beauty of "ao dai" and promote the nation’s cultural values.
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