The cheongsam is fast becoming a fixture in the wardrobe of many Chinese women as more embrace their Asian heritage. In contrast, few know about the cheongsam’s more “practical cousin”, the samfu, even though we may see our grandmothers wearing it daily.
“Samfu” is Cantonese for shirts and trousers. Before fast fashion gave us an endless carousel of blazers, bralets, mini skirts and maxi dresses, it was the wardrobe staple of young Chinese women from our grandmother’s generation.
This two-piece outfit took them everywhere. They did household chores, visited relatives and even attended weddings in it.
It was also designed to last a lifetime. Many elderly ladies in their 80s and 90s still own and wear the same decades-old pieces today, rarely throwing out old clothes.
That, to entrepreneur Trixie Chua, is the epitome of sustainable fashion.
In 2020, the 30-year-old tech marketer started her label Dear Samfu as a side hustle to bring grandma’s fashion and ethos back. She has since sold around 1,000 pieces to young women aged between 25 and 35, spearheading a mini-samfu renaissance.