Culture Culture

01/04/2019 - 08:32

Hue’s ao dai “branded” by default

It is the statement of designer Minh Hanh when talking about Hue cultural values in building and developing Hue Ao Dai brand.

Designer Minh Hanh. Photo: Provided by the designer

According to designer Minh Hanh, Hue has long been a place of unique beauty and its ao dai is always associated with this value. Because of that, Hue, by default, has an ao dai "brand name". With the requirements of a land of heritage ao dai must become a typical consumer product of Hue and must carry high commercial value.

Many people say that the image of Hue women wearing ao dai creates a lasting impression in the heart of visitors. What do you think about this idea?

I think it is no coincidence that Hue has this "unique position." History has left Hue with a "distinct legacy" in the subconscious of Vietnamese people. Coming to Hue, in the mind of Vietnamese people, there are always images of the purple ao dai, the long maidenhair and the conical leaf hat. These are typical of Hue women and it is always in the heart of domestic and foreign tourists.

Compared to other provinces and cities in the country, what do you think makes Hue ao dai stand out? What should Hue do to preserve and promote the tradition of women wearing ao dai?

Hue women have a unique manner so when wearing ao dai, they always create their own style. But to preserve these values, right methods and specific solutions are needed. In today's era, the demand is higher and we cannot keep this value just with superficial words for ao dai. The succession of indigenous cultural values will create a new value for Hue ao dai. 

Currently, the ao dai is transformed in different ways, which direction is needed so that Hue ao dai can create its own mark in modern life? Do you have any suggestions about the style and method of preserving Hue's ao dai?

Hue women are charming in their ao dai when visiting Hue Inner Citadel. Photo: Le Tho

We need to understand that ao dai is a consumer product with cultural symbol value, so when establishing this product’s development strategy, it should be done on the basis of sustainability. That is the social responsibility of businesses and the State. This is the story of intellectuals who are passionate and have a high cultural background. They are willing to devote their lives to the value of the local cultural identity and lasting national identity. It is these values that create the national brand for sustainable development.

Many provinces and cities have ao dai festivals, encouraging women to wear ao dai. I am aware that you have attended Hue Festival many times, so how has the ao dai  made its mark through each festival?

Hue is the place to host the first Ao dai Festival in 2000. At that time, Hue Ao dai Festival on Truong Tien Bridge had touched the hearts of all Vietnamese including expatriates. After that effect, other provinces also followed the trend of organizing Ao dai Festivals.

Every Hue Festival, everyone looks forward to the Ao dai Festival because it is a story told by themes through the creativity of the designers. In 2017, the theme of the Ao dai Festival was "Hue painting on the ao dai", which was a collaboration between Hue painters and the designers. This year, within the framework of Hue Traditional Craft Festival, the theme is: "Ao dai on the Central Heritage Road".

The story of Hue Ao dai Festival is not a story of an entertainment show with colorful ao dai without content, with ‘long-legged’ girls appearing with empty titles. Hue Ao dai Festival itself is not like that but is a way to express the value of identity with a unique product, which carries a very new, very Hue spirit. Unfortunately, after nearly 20 years, Hue still has no measures to determine the Ao dai Festival as a trademark of Hue.

Many women think wearing ao dai is very inconvenient. So how can we solve this problem? How can people visiting Hue be comfortable when wearing ao dai? 

There had been a trend of domestic tourists that when coming to Hue, they had to order ao dai, one can order from 5 to 10 ao dai(s). They said that the tailors in Hue made very beautiful ao dai because they were careful and the price was low...

However, with growing demands of customer service which require more professionalism, tailoring facilities in Hue could not live up to the demands. In addition, there is fierce competition in the neighboring localities. In this day and age, human needs change rapidly, so high adaptability is needed to protect achievements and create new ones continuously. The newness is to solve the inconvenience, giving consumers maximum comfort.

Where do you think is the position of Hue ao dai? How can we promote Hue cultural value in building the ao dai brand?

The whole country has a tradition of wearing ao dai, but it is no coincidence that today when talking about Vietnamese ao dai many people think of its origin of Hue. That is the gain of the golden past, and it is the loss of the 4.0 era.

This is the age of possession, so possessiveness is inevitable. Hue needs to immediately identify the Hue ao dai brand name by cultural and commercial activities. That is the most effective way to determine the intellectual property of Hue ao dai.

Recently, the provincial People's Committee initiated a campaign encouraging female staff to wear traditional Vietnamese ao dai to offices and schools and has received positive responses. On the occasion of 8-3, the province also has a policy of free entrance tickets for women wearing ao dai, who are both domestic and foreign, to visit the monuments in Hue City. This was aimed at encouraging and honoring women wearing the traditional ao dai.

A provincial-level scientific conference was also organized with the theme "Promoting Hue cultural values in building Hue Ao dai brand name". The conference was aimed at promoting traditional cultural values for Hue ao dai, turning Hue ao dai into a symbol of Hue women's costumes, and honoring the traditional cultural beauty and charm of the women in this ancient land.