Uniquely Red Floral Fabric Demonstrates the Taste and Look of Taiwanese Life!
▲Yongle Fabric Market is one of the main fabric wholesalers in Taiwan. (Photo: Yang Zhiren)
Connoisseurs all know: if you are shopping for fabric, Yongle Fabric Market (永樂布業商場) is definitely the place to go! Xin Jing Mei (新經美), run by Xu Wanfu (許萬福), is the oldest brand in the market. At the mention of his vibrant red floral material, he first corrects the name. “Many people call this ‘Hakka floral fabric,’ which is incorrect,” he says. “This is the cloth every house in Taiwan used in the early days. It is also known as ‘Taiwanese floral fabric’ or ‘Granny’s fabric,’ but it is not used just by the Hakka people.” Then he changes the direction of his words and says with a smile: “But then, thanks to the Hakka Affairs Council’s (客委會) promotion, this floral fabric’s never been out of fashion!”
Flowery Patterns Gain Popularity among the More Traditional
In the 1950’s, with US aid, Taiwan’s textile industry started to boom. Textile companies, such as Far Eastern (遠東) and Tai Quan (太全), took Japanese fabric as their template, and selected patterns they thought Taiwanese would like. Then, they asked local artists to create a new style of fabric painting. The imagery usually included cherry blossoms, peonies, Chinese hibiscuses, and/or daisies. The elaborate designs plus the “lucky” red floral pattern gained this cloth a wide popularity. People used it to make quilt covers, bed sheets, even towels and sleeve protectors, all of which helped bring a bright and sunny atmosphere to post-war Taiwan.
In 1946, Xu’s father left Taoyuan and opened Xin Jing Mei in Yongle Market. It soon became the fabric store with the most floral patterns on the market. In fact, fabric emporiums from all over Taiwan came here to buy their supplies. From his years of experience, Xu knows everything there is to know about his clients’ preferences. He says that in the old days, the bigger and redder the floral patterns were, the better they sold. But now it’s completely the opposite! The younger generations like the more-elegant, simpler and unique styles. Patterns that were unpopular in the old days, such as basic blue, green, or black, or the small tung flower style that represented Hakka culture, have now become the most popular.
▲Run by Xu Wanfu, Xin Jing Mei mainly sells traditional floral fabrics, and knows its customers’ desires very well. (Photo: Yang Zhiren)
When Retro Innovation Meets Living Aesthetics
Floral fabric has been around Taiwan for half a century. With changing times, newer and more advanced fabrics and dyeing techniques have been developed, but Taiwanese floral fabric still maintains a customer base. In Blooom (印花樂), another shop in Dadaocheng, has gotten rid of any trace of the traditional red and pizzazzy features the floral fabric used to have, and now draws more from Taiwan’s ecology and life imagery in its design creation. The result is an original printed fabric creation, which is not just stunning, but has also changed people’s views about traditional cloth.
In Blooom’s finished designs combine the designer’s subtle observations with a thorough comprehension of local life, which is very different from the more market-oriented floral fabric. They also echo the younger generation’s sense of purpose and retro feelings for this land. For example, the Taiwan Crested Myna bird pattern reminds people of the tough conditions Taiwan’s native species encounter. “Old Buildings & Old Majolica Tiles” and the “Window Grill” series recreate an aesthetic of Taiwan’s old days, while expressing a solid and elegantly-classic vibe. These fabrics are not only used in quilt covers and pillowcases, they are also for purses, book slipcases, water bottle pouches, fabric paintings, lanterns, and many other creative products. Floral fabric hasn’t faded away; it can still arouse feelings that are tender, poetic and even sensational. And it’s ready to amaze you all over again!
Xin Jing Mei新經美行
21, Sec. 1, Dihua St., Datong Dist. (Room 39, 3rd floor, Yongle Market)
In Blooom (Dadaocheng store)印花樂（大稻埕本店）
28, Minle St., Datong Dist.