Private Policy’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection Pays Homage To Chinese Immigrants

Private Policy’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection Pays Homage To Chinese Immigrants

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Private Policy’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection Pays Homage To Chinese Immigrants

The label’s new collection combines tradition and modernity to raise awareness for Chinese history in America and the xenophobia that Asian communities face to this day.

The label’s new collection combines tradition and modernity to raise awareness for Chinese history in America and the xenophobia that Asian communities face to this day.

Text: Luana Harumi

Private Policy’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection is all about honoring Chinese history – more specifically, that of the migrants who moved from the Pearl River Delta region in China to the American West in pursuit of more opportunities during the 1800s. Designers Haoran Li and Siying Qu partnered up with the New York City-based Museum of Chinese in America to find historical records and photos of that time, highlighting Chinese immigrants who worked on the U.S. transcontinental railroad in a work titled “We Remember You.” 

The collection takes inspiration from the way railroad workers layered and combined eastern garments and traditional 19th-century Chinese design details with utilitarian western workwear, while also drawing parallels between the xenophobia the immigrants suffered at the time, despite their contribution to one of the most important transportation and development milestones of the U.S., and the attacks inflicted on the Asian communities across the country during the pandemic.

Photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

There’s also optimism and a sense of adventure brought up by the Gold Rush and the quest for unexplored lands. A highlight is the wide hat that covers nearly half the face, a design inspired by a characteristic style of the Pearl River Delta. The creation comes in black, bubblegum pink, or pastel green and was reimagined with a bulky silver chain.

Photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

The palette for other creations is more neutral, with shades of cream, beige, and black dominating the designs. Knot buttons and mandarin collars are combined with buckle straps, large pockets, and chained cowboy boots that bring out the functional atmosphere. The label's streetwear core is channeled through oversized puffer jackets, sweaters and quilted pieces.

Photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

Some designs carry print motifs, with a special focus on the crane, a very symbolic animal in Chinese culture, often connected with the idea of elegance and immortality. The majestic bird is featured throughout the collection flying and reaching for a checkered flag, Private Policy’s take on the iconic American bald eagle with flag representation.

Photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

Another symbolic detail is the “Not Now” graphic, which was inspired by a line from the 1982 film “Chan Is Missing,” where a Chinese immigrant cook says, “We don’t have wonton soup, we have wonton spelled backwards, not now!” The quote references how Asian American culture is often misunderstood and underappreciated by others. 

Photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

The collection was shot at the Museum of Chinese in America, and the partnership also extended to a special t-shirt design to be launched later and other actions to highlight the space. 

“We Remember You” was presented via an amusing TikTok-inspired video featuring Chinese-descendant models who are seen dancing and posing to electronic and hip hop music while working on transitions and effects that have become synonymous with the platform. Watch it below:

Credits: Cover photo by Shxpir Huang/Courtesy of Private Policy.

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