Baseball caps became standard wear in post-war Hong Kong, but it wasn't the Americans' doing

pith helmet, governor Chris Patten, Sedan chair bearers, British Army Gurkha regiments

Hats – for both sexes – have enjoyed a variegated history in Hong Kong. Straw hats have always been popular; light and comfortable, they kept their wearer in the shade and didn’t heat the head unduly.

One form of heat-protective headgear that never really took off here was the pith helmet, or sola topee. Unlike in parts of India or Africa, the heat in Hong Kong was just not extreme enough.

Mainly used as parade dress for certain British Army regiments, and the Hong Kong Police, these were sometimes labelled “coal scuttle” helmets for their scoop-like shape.

Ceremonial use of the helmet survived until the very end of British rule – governor Chris Patten’s aide-de-camp wore one at their official departure from Government House in Hong Kong’s Central district in 1997.

pith helmet, governor Chris Patten, Sedan chair bearers, British Army Gurkha regiments

Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, receiving the Union flag flag during a farewell ceremony at Government House on June 30,1997. Photo: AFP

Forms of cultural hybridity came into play in the interwar years, when many Chinese men continued to don the male cheongsam as everyday wear, paired with narrow-brimmed felt fedora hats. As a fedora helped keep the head (and thus, the rest of the body) warm, they were more commonplace winter wear in Hong Kong. In north China, where cool conditions prevailed for longer, they were worn year-round.

By the 1960s, in tandem with the widespread decline of the male cheongsam, felt hats also gradually disappeared.

Baseball caps became fashionable among young men in the post-war era, with the exponential growth in American popular culture and in particular, the game’s popularity in Japan. Sartorial mimicry came into play; though in this instance, it was less a case of Hong Kong Chinese trying to look like Americans, as Hong Kong Chinese imitating Japanese dressed as Americans.

Whatever the transcultural origins, these caps remain the most commonly worn headgear in contemporary Hong Kong, for both sexes.

Chinese woven bamboo hats helped indicate the wearer’s language or dialect group. Old photographs or newsreel footage of sedan chair depots in urban areas show chair bearers lined up awaiting passengers, often in different patterns of hat. Individual choice played a role, but, as ever, practical considerations were paramount.

pith helmet, governor Chris Patten, Sedan chair bearers, British Army Gurkha regiments

Sedan chair bearers would wear a certain type of hat to indicate the Chinese dialect they spoke. Photo: Getty Images

Until standard language modelling through mass education and exposure to radio, films and television gradually eliminated differences, Cantonese had significant regional variation, and could be almost incomprehensible between those from different areas.

Sedan chair bearers were generally migrant workers from elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, who had come to Hong Kong in search of economic opportunities. A passenger who spoke the particular variant indicated by a certain form of hat might well seek that bearer out, as much to make sure he understood directions as for any lingering “home-district” fellowship.

Ethnic marker headgear has crossed ethnic boundaries; flat, woven bamboo, crownless Hakka farmer’s hats, with a black cloth fringe around the brim, were once worn exclusively by agricultural workers in the New Territories.

pith helmet, governor Chris Patten, Sedan chair bearers, British Army Gurkha regiments

Flat, woven bamboo, crownless Hakka farmer’s hats have been widely adopted these days by female Nepali outdoor workers. Photo: SCMP

Practical, hard-wearing and cheap, they have been widely adopted these days by female Nepali outdoor workers in urban areas, mainly street sweepers, who first spotted them two generations earlier, when British Army Gurkha regiments were stationed near Kam Tin and Fanling.

In mid-1930s Japan (and Thailand), ultra-right wing governments mandated “civilised” dress codes; hats for women when wearing “Western” dress were among them. In China, the Nationalist government’s New Life Movement attempted the same, but with limited success. Ultimately, the idea was to keep insidious – and possibly corrosive – aspects of foreign popular culture under control; dance bands were also a target of suppression.

Like many similar campaigns against “foreign influence”, ultimately these drives were responses of insecure, increasingly paranoid governments whose leaders thought that as far as Westernisation was concerned, they could have modernity’s omelette and keep their own cultural eggs intact; no political power has yet managed to achieve that feat indefinitely, whatever strongman was in charge.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

ByteDance gaming studio lays off dozens of employees amid Beijing's gaming crackdown, sending a chill down industry

TikTok-owner ByteDance, which had been expanding into video gaming aggressively, is laying off dozens of employees at one of its gaming studios as Beijing’s crackdown on the industry clouds the ... Read more »

TikTok make-up artists promote lube as a skin primer, claiming it helps foundation glide on, but experts say it could damage your skin

TikTok make-up artists are using lubricant as a primer, saying it helps their foundation go on smoothly. But some dermatologists think there could be adverse effects. Make-up artist and TikToker ... Read more »

K-drama Jirisan: Jun Ji-hyun's mountaineering action drama, featuring Kingdom co-star Ju Ji-hoon, gets off on the wrong foot

Korean dramas have always had a tendency to be earnest. As the industry has matured, storytellers have injected a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun into shows, which can help temper this ... Read more »

Girls Planet 999 and Street Woman Fighter, K-pop and female dance competition shows, win over viewers in South Korea and beyond

While the rest of the world still can’t get enough of Netflix’s Squid Game, two popular competition TV series are making waves in South Korea – Street Woman Fighter and ... Read more »

Hong Kong's buyers shrug aside leftover projects in their rush for small, cheaper homes as robust supply spoils them with options

Hong Kong’s weekend home sales were mixed, with buyers piling in after new launches and the smallest flats that require less upfront payments, giving their collective cold shoulder to unsold ... Read more »

China's EV battery manufacturers race to develop new technologies that are less reliant on pricey metals

This second instalment of a three-part series on China’s electric car batteries looks at the technology behind the alternative power source. On the evening of January 9, William Li, chief ... Read more »

Panic-stricken investors drive down Chinese developer Agile's bonds amid rumours about its ability to repay loans

Chinese developer Agile Group Holdings on Friday tried to reassure investors that it has enough money on hand to service debt, including off-balance sheet loans, after rumours drove down its ... Read more »

Netflix K-drama Hospital Playlist fails to deliver in a bloated second season, while HBO Go's Doom Patrol returns to save an ungrateful world – again

In musical terms, this is that “difficult second album”: the one that follows the smash-hit first record, but turns out to be disappointingly bloated, meandering and lacking in focus. Welcome ... Read more »

Why China's slow economic growth is a bigger headache than its energy crunch and Evergrande's debt crisis

China is having an eventful month, marked by power-supply disruptions and the debt crisis of the country’s second-largest property developer, Evergrande. What does this mean for China’s post-pandemic economic recovery? ... Read more »

China-India border dispute: how one doctor coped with conflict and Covid-19 on the front lines of a face-off between two world powers

Fifty-three-year-old Nyima Tenzin was wearing a combat uniform, wrapped in a sleeping bag, when his body was brought to the Chushul Primary Health Centre on August 30, 2020. Once inside ... Read more »

Evergrande staves off default, paying US$83.5 million of overdue offshore bond coupon before 30-day grace period runs out

China Evergrande Group paid the US$83.5 million interest payment on its offshore bond, just before a 30-day grace period runs out for declaring it in default, as the world’s most ... Read more »

Krystal Jung at 27: the star of F(x) and Netflix's Sweet and Sour has come a long way since being snapped up by SM Entertainment at age six ... but what ‘controversial food' does she love?

On October 24, Krystal Jung, the visual centre and lead vocalist of K-pop girl band F(x), turns 27 –making her five years younger than idol sister Jessica Jung. September marked ... Read more »

Milan Design Week showcased 2022's most fashionable furniture, with Supersalone featuring homeware from Bulgari, Dior, Fendi, Gucci and Hermès

When Milan Design Week got underway in early September, it was a scaled-down affair after a pandemic-induced 18-month delay. Included in the week’s festivities was Supersalone, a special edition of ... Read more »

Sunrise breathwork meditation and exercise on a Hong Kong hilltop combines fitness, mind and body detox, and a reset of your circadian clock

Our appreciation for the great outdoors has blossomed during the global pandemic. And we’ve also embraced opportunities for interpersonal connection, especially during periods of lockdown and social distancing. That is ... Read more »

Indigenous fashion in Australia makes giant strides forward, from the country's fashion week to its oldest department store

Tears, joy and a standing ovation rounded off this year’s First Nations Fashion and Design (FNFD) show, a celebration of 10 indigenous fashion brands, at June’s Afterpay Australian Fashion Week ... Read more »

Tencent fixes WeChat bug that exposed some social media content to Google, other external search engines

Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings says it has fixed a bug it found on super app WeChat that exposed some social media content to external search engines, such as Bing ... Read more »

China will set up a property tax pilot plan, taking small steps after years of dithering to tame home prices for common prosperity

China’s legislature will enact a property tax in selected regions across the country, rolling out the pilot plan as part of a wider “common prosperity” programme to enhance housing affordability ... Read more »

China puts cryptocurrency mining on industrial blacklist in final step to eliminate the activity

China’s top economic planner is seeking to eliminate cryptocurrency mining activity in the country, months after a government crackdown that turned dozens of companies from model energy consumers into pariahs ... Read more »

Five make-up influencers to follow for tips on doing your own at home, explained in simple steps

Now that we’ve addressed how much misinformation there is online about make-up, let’s look at some social media influencers who are doing an excellent job of educating their followers on ... Read more »

Missguided fashion tycoon seeks £50m lifeline

Sofia Richie and CEO of Missguided Nitin Passi arrive at the Sofia Richie x Missguided launch party at Bootsy Bellows on September 18, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by ... Read more »

Chinese developers' overseas spending spree dries up as Beijing tightens screws to restore order at home

Chinese developers, who were among the most active investors in overseas property markets, have seen their investments slump this year and they are likely to remain depressed for many years, ... Read more »

‘We've been caught half-dressed': ambivalent Glasgow awaits Cop26

Diwali candles in pretty terracotta pots are stacked around the counter at Suresh & Sons grocer in Finnieston, the Glasgow district that borders the UN-managed “blue zone” of the Scottish ... Read more »

The Guilt-Free Fashion Brands We're Prioritising in Our Wardrobes

Whether we like it or not, the world of sustainable fashion is one that is riddled with inconsistencies and misinformation. What does sustainable actually mean? What should we be looking ... Read more »

6 Easy Autumn Outfits I Can't Wait to Wear

If you're still holding out for that second August heatwave, then you might want to look away now because I'm about to rain on your parade. (Quite literally—have you seen ... Read more »

Issa Rae Wears a Caramel Cutout Dress To Celebrate 'Insecure's Final Season

Issa Rae is celebrating the final season of Insecure in style. The star made a glamorous entrance at the Insecure Season 5 premiere in LA Thursday night. For the series' ... Read more »

Best beauty gift sets for Christmas 2021 from Fenty, Huda Beauty and more

(lookfantastic) With all the talk of shortages and further covid protocols, it’s hard to know what Christmas 2021 has in store for us. So, get a head start on your ... Read more »

I Think These Are the 7 Best Shoes to Wear When It's Cold

Winter presents many sartorial dilemmas. Will your chunky knit fit under your tailored coat? Is one pair of tights enough to withstand the chill? How many layers can you wear ... Read more »

Is Day of the Dead Skull Makeup on Halloween Offensive? It Depends

Image Source: Getty Images It's a scenario like so many others in recent years: you're scrolling through Instagram for Halloween costume inspiration, weaving through hashtags and grids for makeup ideas ... Read more »

Party tights: one of fashion's favourite trends is making a comeback

Little could we have guessed that when Adele announced her return to the charts this autumn that she would be bringing back one of fashion’s favourite trends with her – ... Read more »

Helado Negro: Far In review – excavating beauty with joyous songs

As Helado Negro, Brooklyn-via-Florida’s Roberto Carlos Lange has spent more than a decade refining an expansive sound somewhere between synth-folk and alternative pop. With songs in English, Spanish and sometimes ... Read more »

How the worlds of beauty and gaming are colliding

(Nintendo) It’s not often that you hear ‘beauty’ and ‘gaming’ in the same sentence. Usually thought of as the preserve of angsty teenagers shouting into headsets, gaming has, for many, ... Read more »

5 Tips A Korean Beauty Expert Swears By For Glowing Skin In Winter

Winter weather has a lot to answer for. Chapped lips and parched hands are just a couple of the beauty grumbles pretty much all of us experience when the temperature ... Read more »

Hopson says it considers agreement to buy Evergrande unit to be ‘legally binding' despite cancellation

China Evergrande rival Hopson Development Holdings Limited, which had sought to buy half of the embattled developer’s property management unit, still considers the purchase agreement “legally binding” despite Evergrande rescinding ... Read more »

What does a stronger US dollar-yuan exchange rate mean, and why is Beijing worried?

Why is the US dollar-yuan exchange rate so important? The exchange rate between the Chinese yuan and the US dollar is an indicator of relative economic strength and also has ... Read more »

Investor fears of stagflation risk turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy

Financial market commentators and investors love to pin tidy narratives to confusing shifts in the economy and asset prices. Stories matter hugely in markets, mainly because it is easier for ... Read more »

How to make lumpia Shanghai, Filipino spring rolls introduced by Chinese settlers

The Filipino dish of lumpia Shanghai shows the influence of Chinese settlers on the Southeast Asian country’s cuisine. I’ve eaten them many times at restaurants and parties – because no ... Read more »

The best Black Friday beauty deals to expect this year

Black Friday 2021 is just around the corner – and beauty lovers won't want to miss out on the chance to nab some of their favourite brands and products for ... Read more »

Dalian Wanda's property management unit applies to list in Hong Kong to raise up to US$4 billion

Zhuhai Wanda Commercial Management Group, the property servicing arm of Dalian Wanda Group, filed for a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday night. The mainland China-based company, ... Read more »

China to pursue digital trade expansion under new five-year plan as cross-border data flow restrictions remain in place

China is seeking to step up development of digital trade, a segment that is shaping into an integral part of the economy, amid questions that this effort might be impeded ... Read more »

The unexpected fashion pairings to know for autumn

Winter temperatures are really setting in, it’s time to refresh your wardrobe The winter chill has really set in this week (did anyone else throw an extra layer into the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic