Vietnam’s ancient costumes – connecting present and the past

(VOVWORLD) - Ancient Vietnamese costumes made with sophisticated sewing, embroidering and decorating techniques have held the interest of many young Vietnamese. Designer Nguyen Duc Loc has devoted much effort to restoring and introducing these costumes to the public, especially to the younger generations.

Vietnam’s ancient costumes – connecting present and the past - ảnh 1Designer Nguyen Duc Loc in Vietnam's ancient costume. (Photo: Y Van Hien) 

Growing up with a passion for culture and fashion, Loc began thinking about how to recover and preserve the ancient costumes, as well as bringing them closer to the people. He established Y Van Hien Joint Stock company with his friends and started making Vietnamese costumes similar to the ancient designs. He even visited relics, village houses and traditional weaving villages to learn more about ancient costume designs.

Loc and his fellow workers at Y Van Hien took responsibility for all the costumes in the 18-episode series Phượng Khấu (The Queen’s Robe Button Engraved with an Image of a Phoenix) which  reveals untold stories from the royal family from the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945).

They have also made ancient Vietnamese clothes for singers and artists featured in many music videos, wedding shows, as well as organizing workshops to promote Vietnam’s ancient costumes. The clothing brand “Y Van Hien” has found a firm foothold in the market and become a favorite trend among young Vietnamese.

"I’m more than happy as ancient costumes have been loved by many people, especially the young Vietnamese. This trend has created positive influences on society through various entertainment and cultural events. More and more people have become interested in Vietnam’s traditional costumes," said Loc.

Each feudal dynasty of Vietnam has its own costumes, which are totally different from others, according to designer Nguyen Duc Loc. 

"Our predecessors used the Chinese word “national costumes” for all clothes worn by the King, Lords, royal families and staff, calling that a whole system in comparison with those of other nations," said Loc. 

Vietnam’s ancient costumes – connecting present and the past - ảnh 2Vietnamese women in Nhat Binh costume which used to be worn by the King's concubines during the Nguyen dynasty. The costumes are designed and recreated by Y Van Hien. (Photo: Y Van Hien) 

Young Vietnamese who love ancient costumes established a Facebook group to share their interests. Tran Thi Trang and Nguyen Thi Kieu Linh are members of this group. Starting from an idea to make their own ancient clothes, Trang and Linh decided to start a business specialized in this field.

"I found out that wearing ancient clothes has long been very popular in China. Young people like us also want to wear these kinds of clothes but could not find any shops or businesses making them in Vietnam. We then did a lot of research and decided to open a business on this trade," Trang told VOV. 

"In 2018 I wanted to make a Nhat Binh costume (square-collared garb) for myself to wear during the lunar New Year festival. I had to print color on the cloth to make the costume. Making only 1 costume cost me much more money so I decided to make 20 extras. I posted images of them on the Facebook group and all of them were sold out quickly. Then I thought it would be a good business to start," said Linh. 

As the trend grows, older people have also shown increasing interest in ancient clothes. Ancient costumes of Vietnam dating back centuries ago have been revitalized and well-adapted to modern lifestyles thanks to young designers’ passion and creativity, triggering young Vietnamese people’s interests in their national cultural values.