A couple try on

hanfu

dresses at a studio in Caoxian county, Heze, Shandong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

June is the busiest time of the year for Zhao Ying’s

hanfu

or traditional Chinese clothing business. The mother of two needs to stay up late almost every night to prepare the orders placed via her online shops.

“Inquiries about my products keep popping up on my Taobao shops, even though it’s night,” Zhao said.

Located in Sunzhuang, Daiji town, Caoxian county, Shandong province, Zhao’s workshop is a five-minute drive from the village’s main road, which is lined with shops involved in

hanfu

production, ranging from cloth making to pattern printing.

Zhao started to run an online shop for selling

hanfu

dresses in 2011, when she tried to make a living from home to take care of her son and parents-in-law. Her husband went to the city each day to do temporary jobs.

“When I took my children to a park, I saw a lot of children were dressed in

hanfu

, which inspired me to make the clothing and sell it online,” she said.

Her business continues to grow. Her husband returned to help with the business two years after she began.

“Demand for

hanfu

products began booming in 2019. Sales of

hanfu

at my workshop reached 3 million yuan ($471,700) in 2019,” she said.

In May, Zhao was able to earn more than 70,000 yuan on one day selling

hanfu

. On some days, her daily income exceeded 100,000 yuan, Zhao said.

Like Zhao, hundreds of businesses in Daiji town are working overtime to meet demand for

hanfu

. The town has been a center for the manufacturing of stylized performance costumes for decades and recently accounted for 70 percent of the total sold nationwide, according to the local government.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of performance costumes slumped last year because people were required to practice social distancing and shunned public gatherings. But demand for

hanfu

showed no pandemic slump.

In the online sector, sales of

hanfu

from Caoxian county makes up one-third of the country’s total, according to the e-commerce service center of Caoxian. “Orders for cloth to make

hanfu

have been increasing substantially in recent years,” said Chen Jichao, head of an enterprise that sells cloth in Daiji.

His company is selling around 200,000 square meters of cloth a day in May.

“Some cloth is in short supply. Buyers don’t bargain on prices. What they care about is when they can get the cloth,” Chen said.

There are now over 2,000 enterprises working in the

hanfu

sector in Caoxian, ranging from costume design, cloth production, pattern printing and logistics.

“Caoxian has a complete industry chain for

hanfu

, which helps reduce production, labor and logistics costs and makes the town competitive,” said Lan Tao, director of the e-commerce service center of the county.

Zang Lina, a professor of communication studies at Shandong University, said a regional brand that carries Chinese traditional cultural significance is needed.