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National costume for men in confusion

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If most of people agree to choose ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long gown) as the national costume for women, it is a big controversy for choosing national costume for men.


The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has launched the plan to choose national flower, national wine and national costumes. The plan is assigned to the Agency for Fine-art, Photography and Exhibition.

Vi Kien Thanh, Chief of the Agency for Fine-art, Photography and Exhibition Department, said that national costume is a necessity for a country in the age of international integration. Ao dai is already the national costume for women, but it is difficult to choose the national costume for men.

Fashion designer Duc Hung

Thanh also said that his agency had finalized the draft plan and it is collecting experts’ opinions. The draft plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for approval. The agency will also launch a national costume design contest.

Below are the opinions of experts about national costumes:

Painter Trinh Quang Vu: We should choose ao dai and khan dong (ready-to-wear turban) for men, and ao dai and khan van (ready-to-wear turban) for women because they are traditional costumes that have been existed for thousands of years, and the cultural symbols of Vietnam.

These costumes are very special because they are the same in designs for kings, mandarins and civilians. They are only different in materials and patterns.

The traditional ao dai for men have two-layers. The inside layer is in single color like white, black, etc. while the outside layer is silk. Ao dai for kings have the white inside layer and the outside layer is embroidered with dragons and patterns. They don’t have patterns for civilians.

Painter Trinh Quang Vu

Vietnamese men don’t wear hats but khan dong/khan cuon. Khan dong is a long scarf which is rolled up and leaves a tail behind. This costume was worn by national heroes like Huynh Thuc Khang, Hoang Hoa Tham, Phan Boi Chau, etc. Today, some elderly still put on this costume during the lunar New Year of holidays.

The ao dai designed for chiefs of state at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2006, have only one layer. It was like wearing a suit without a white shirt. Ao dai for men is nice thanks to its inside layer. For women’s ao dai, it has been reformed a lot. I think we should wear these traditional costumes during national holidays to preserve the national character.

Painter Tran Khanh Chuong, Chair of the Vietnam Fine-art Association: I think women’s ao dai are beautiful, but men’s ao dai are obsolete and it is no longer suitable. National costume doesn’t mean restoring the old things.

In my opinion, national costume for men should be in Vietnamized western style with stipulated cloth, color, etc. For women, I support ao dai, with standards on collar design, color and patterns.

Fashion designer Duc Hung: I strongly back the selection of Vietnam’s national costumes. National costumes are the representative costumes for a country. We should choose traditional costumes. I support traditional ao dai as national costumes for both men and women. I give prominence to traditional, not reformed ao dai!



Source: VNN

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