Chinese photographer challenges stereotypes by capturing images of senior fashion
Published: Dec 04, 2020 02:26 AM Updated: Dec 03, 2020 10:26 PM

Photo: Courtesy of Qin Xiao

When Chinese photographer Qin Xiao began taking pictures of elderly passersby on the street to highlight and show their fashion choices to the public, he never imagined that the project would end up changing stereotypes about seniors. 

Qin Xiao, who was a commercial photographer, has been obsessed with street photography since 2011. He told the Global Times on Thursday that it is because he loves observing human's natural state.

Qin is often drawn by passersby on the streets whenever he walks around Shanghai, one of China's youngest modern cities. He first started out in 2011 by taking pictures of young people with fashionable taste on the streets for a Japanese website, but he soon found himself attracted by the fashion choices of the elderly.

"When shooting young people on streets, I found that the elderly can also dress very attractively and have their own styles, so I started recording senior people's fashion starting from 2017," Qin said.

Through his photography and observation over the years, Qin began noticing some of the differences between the younger and older generations when it came to fashion. While young people prefer chasing after the latest fashion trends, the elderly seem more constant, with their choices becoming in a way their own special fashion trend.

Qin has categorized the several kinds of clothing styles he has noticed senior citizens wearing. Some seniors do not seem to purposely dress up, but their natural look holds a lot of charm for Qin's camera.

Photo: Courtesy of Qin Xiao

Like in one photo Qin showed to the Global Times, a man who looks to be in his 60s can be seen walking leisurely down the street with two bags of vegetables. Qin explained that the man had just walked out of a grocery store.

The man wears a white shirt and trousers that are rolled up at the bottom, so that a pair of orange leather shoes can be seen. A clear plastic bag is in his left hand, while the right sports a blue bag. His clothing seems casual but colors come together very harmoniously.

Other seniors may prefer colorful clothes with a variety of patterns. In another photo, there is a man wearing a multi-colored shirt who sits on a chair in an unconstrained pose. Qin said that if a younger man had worn that shirt, he wouldn't be able to rein in so many colors, but this senior man with full of life experience is able to display the shirt's real charm.

The elderly in Qin's photos have broken free of the many stereotypes people have about senior citizens, including that they are boring and unfashionable. They are lively and colorful, and clearly possess their own understanding of fashion.

Qin has registered an account on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo and an Instagram account called Senior Fashion Hub, on which he posts these photos to share the beauty of senior citizens and show young people how wonderful their lives can be. 

He has also held four photography exhibitions at various galleries. 

"One of my friends had no reaction when she heard about my photography project for the first time, but when she saw the photos at an exhibition, I could see her eyes light up and I knew she had been touched."

Qin said he hopes to hold an exhibition in a park near his home and invite some senior residents to appreciate his work and discover how attractive they can be.

"After seeing my photos, an owner of a bookstore told me my works are recording today's China."

He also plans to expand beyond Shanghai and go to more places in China and even abroad to collect more images of senior fashion.