Jundayi, a fashion-outdated Chinese Military Overcoat

Jundayi, is a Chinese retro puffy dark green overcoat. It was originally a standard-issue winter-wear for soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Afterwards, it came to permeate Chinese society and became a winter garment for the common Chinese people.

Jundayi, written as “军大衣” in Chinese, literally translated as “big military overcoat”. Jun, written as “军”, means military. Da, written as “大”, means big. Yi, written as “衣”, means Clothes.

Jundayi(Chinese PLA Military Overcoat)

Jundayi, as a winter overcoat, is as practical as its name. It’s thick and heavy — usually heavier than your average coat. It’s in a drab olive green color, cotton-filled and with a dark collar of imitation fur. On the front, there are two columns of gold-colored buttons with the Chinese characters “八一” on it. 八一(bayi), literally means 8-1, i.e., August 1, the date of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). From a modern fashion point of view, jundayi is not pretty. But you must have to say, it has a distinct look.

As time goes by, this distinct look gave Chinese people a kind of special feeling.

At first, jundayi became a symbol of masses and integrity, that’s because it was wore by retired PLA soldiers at the first place in Chinese society. And almost all the leaders of the People’s Republic have been photographed in jundayi.

With the development of China’s economy, Chinese people get richer and richer, fewer and fewer people wear this clumsy overcoat. If you seek out 10 people who wear jundayi on China’s street, 9 of them will be trash collectors, security guards, workers sweeping roads, or farmers. They wear jundayi because it’s super warm, of good quality and cheap most importantly.

Who’s the only left? He or she should be a celebrity. Lots of Chinese celebrity has been photographed in jundayi, for example Andy Lau, Jackie Chen, Zhang Yixing, Deng Chao, Wu Xiubo and Guan Xiaotong, etc.

Chinese Celebrity Andy Lau in a JundayiChinese Celebrity Zhang Yixing in a Jundayi
Chinese Celebrity Andy Lau and Zhang Yixing in Jundayi

Why does those Chinese celebrities like to wear jundayi? Especially when they are sure to be photographed? They probably wore jundayi in the first place because of its super warmth. Celebrities usually have to shoot movies&TV shows outdoors at cold night, jundayi become their best choice at those time. And then they started to figure out that it was kind of cool, especially in a crowd of people in formal wear. Ordinary Chinese people don’t wear jundayi because it makes them look poor, but this won’t be a problem for celebrities because everyone knows they are rich.

As a result, jundayi became a very complicated garment. As the standard-issue for soldiers of the PLA, it’s the symbol of integrity and China’s national power. As the favorite of the most toilsome Chinese workers and farmers, wearing it usually makes you look poor and tasteless. As a “fashion” garment for celebrities, it looks kind of cool and even makes you look like a outlier.

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