Chinese photographer challenges stereotypes by capturing images of senior fashion
Published: Dec 06, 2020 06:43 PM

Photographs of elderly fashion by Qin Xiao Photo: Courtesy of Qin Xiao

Photographs of elderly fashion by Qin Xiao Photo: Courtesy of Qin Xiao

Photographs of elderly fashion by Qin Xiao 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 had never imagined that the project would end up changing stereotypes of 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 humans in their most natural state.

Qin is often drawn by passersby on the streets whenever he walks around Shanghai, China's most populous metropolis. 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 entranced by the fashion choices of the elderly.

"While shooting young people on the streets, I found that the elderly also dress very attractively and have their own styles, so I started recording senior 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 their own special fashion trends.

Qin has categorized several styles of clothing he has noticed senior citizens wearing. 

For instance, some seniors do not seem to purposely dress up, but their natural look holds a lot of charm for Qin's camera.

Like in one photo Qin showed for 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. His clothing seems casual but the 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 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 toward senior citizens, including that they are boring and unfashionable. In Qin's eyes, they are lively and colorful, and clearly possess their own understanding of fashion.

Qin has 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 the lives of senior citizens 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.

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

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