Pixar artist promotes traditional Chinese clothing overseas

Comics by Xin Yingzong Photos: Courtesy of Xin Yingzong

Comics by Xin Yingzong Photos: Courtesy of Xin Yingzong

Comics by Xin Yingzong Photos: Courtesy of Xin Yingzong

Comics by Xin Yingzong Photos: Courtesy of Xin Yingzong

Two young women wearing a colorful ruqun, a traditional type of clothing of China’s Han ethnic group, and two Chinese-style buns stand with their backs to the camera facing the sea. After hearing someone say “turn “, they turn their heads at the same time, and the big smiles on their faces are revealed. This is the scene depicted in one of the comics by Xin Yingzong, a character designer who works for Pixar Animation Studios.

Xin, who currently lives in Hawaii in the United States, told the Global Times that she has been drawn to traditional Han clothing, or Hanfu, for about three years now. She often dresses in these clothes when she walks the streets of this foreign country with her friends.

Deciding to put her professional talents to use, she published around sixty short comics recounting the beautiful moments she experienced while wearing this garment with her friends, such as the scene by the sea.

In the comics, Xin uses a Chinese ink painting style to depict vast seas to mountains and rivers populated by cute and exaggerated cartoon characters. The two styles come together seamlessly to create beautiful and fun art.

Xin edits the comics into short videos which she posts on video-sharing platforms such as TikTok. Unexpectedly, the videos went viral, earning millions of views on her TikTok account “yingzong_xin” and helping Hanfu capture the hearts of people from different cultural backgrounds.

‘Hanfu makes me proud’

“I studied animation design at the Beijing Film Academy, then went to the University of Southern California to continue my studies. After graduating, I was recruited by Pixar Animation Studios,” Xin told the Global Times.

Some of the drawings for Soul, Pixar’s 2020 computer-animated comedy-drama film and winner of Best Animated Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards, contain Xin’s inspiration and effort.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xin was unable to return home and stay for a long time. She said part of her obsession with Hanfu can be attributed to her missing the homeland.

Xin and some of her friends often buy Hanfu through Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao. Before the pandemic, it took about a week for a shipment to arrive.

She and her friends like to wander around different places in the United States such as parks, coasts and Chinatowns, wearing Hanfu skirts. When the landscape of a place proves particularly inspiring, they stop and take photos and videos.

Xin said people complimented them on their clothes, asking them where they got them.

“It’s a good opportunity to promote Hanfu culture. I’m very happy to tell them what I’m showing,” she added.

Sometimes misunderstandings happen, but these just inspired her to further promote Chinese culture.

“When people ask us if we’re Japanese or South Korean, it makes us feel like we need to wear Hanfu more often so we can tell more Westerners that it’s traditional Chinese clothing and show them to how beautiful our clothes are,” Xin said. , noting that she gradually developed a sense of mission to promote Hanfu culture.

She noted that “wearing Hanfu makes me proud because my homeland has such a brilliant and centuries-old culture.”

There are several folk organizations in the United States made up of Hanfu fans who also seek to promote Chinese culture. The NorthCalifornia Hanfu Corporation founded in 2017 has nearly 350 members, most of whom are Chinese working in high-tech industries or studying abroad.

Members regularly organize and attend cultural events to promote Hanfu, calligraphy, martial arts and other traditional Chinese cultures.

Growing influence

After working at Pixar, Xin noticed more and more Chinese elements appearing in Western television and film works, such as Pixar’s popular 2022 animated film Turning Red.

Hanfu is just one of these cultural elements. “Chinese culture contains many interesting themes. Our old and ancient history has too many stories that can be explored,” Xin said.

Alice Roche, a 27-year-old Frenchwoman, currently works as a media operator for a French luxury company in Shanghai. She is also a fan of traditional Chinese clothing, especially the cheongsam.

Thanks to her work, Alice has many opportunities to wear different chic clothes for the promotion of the brand. She sometimes wears different styles of cheongsam and posts photos of herself on her personal overseas social media account to promote Chinese culture.

“My favorite cheongsam are the silk ones because they bring out the floral pattern and the color is vivid. Meanwhile, the cheongsam has a high neck design that can highlight the chest, which shows the beautiful lines of a feminine silhouette.” she told the Global Times on Sunday.

Chinese fashion designer Zhang Yan, who debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2019, also noticed the trend through his fashion shows on international stages.

Western audiences have also marveled at the exotic charm of his embroidered garments, calling them a “mysterious eastern power”, he told the Global Times.

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