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The story of the Zhonshan suit

A look into Chinese fashion for men

· Chinese Elegance

The broadness of Chinese culture is shown in every details, even in men’s attire, making the Zhongshan suit a perfect history carrier, crossing the ancient and modern times.

In the 1920s, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who had studied in Japan, combined the characteristics of Japanese school uniforms, Western suits and Chinese clothing to design a modern Chinese suit at the time, which is called Zhongshan suit (or Chinese tunic suit).

James Bond (Sean Connery) wearing a modern version of the Chinese tunic suit in Dr. No (1962)

This week, let's take a look at the special features of this world-famous Chinese piece of clothing !


In the 1930s, Chinese tunic suit became the legal uniform stipulated by the government. All government officials, teachers and students must wear it.

Legendary tailor Tian Atong

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, tailor Tian Atong made a new Chinese style tunic suit after improving the original Zhongshan suit.

This kind of improved Zhongshan costume has then become an important part of the attire for national leaders to attend formal occasions, eventually becoming the most popular dress trend for Chinese men in the 1950s.

Hidden meanings

The design of the Chinese tunic suit is simple and steady, which contains both profound political implication and traditional etiquette culture.

  1. The Zhongshan suit’s four pockets represent four crucial qualities (decorum, justice, honesty, and honor)
  2. Its five larger buttons symbolize the independence of the five powers (administration, legislation, jurisdiction, examination, and supervision)
  3. The absence of vents in the back represents the unification of China
  4. The turn-down closed collar, showing the strict concept of governing the country
  5. Three smaller cufflinks on both sleeves, representing “the Three People’s Principles” (Nationalism, Democracy, and the People’s livelihood, according to Sun Yat-sen)

Modern Zhongshan suits

In modern Chinese tunic suits, the original collar is often replaced by a 2 inches high mandarin collars, and they can be found in many colors, in addition to the common navy blue and gray, such as camel, black, white, gray green, rice yellow, etc. For casual occasions, choose a light color than for relatively formal occasions, for which you should choose a dark color. The pants should be of the same color as the jacket.

Chinese tunic suit focuses on the tailoring, color and style of the clothing, and aims at highlighting the beauty of the suit itself, so it does not need accessories such as ties or pocket squares. The only addition would be to wear a white shirt with a round collar inside, with the neckline slightly exposed, but not too much.

In recent years, many emerging designers have begun to integrate Zhongshan-inspired suits into their fashion lines, appearing in major shows as central Chinese elements. Note that the collar has now a more modern, straight-up shape.

With such a beautiful retro Chinese style, don’t you want to add one to your wardrobe ?

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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