Two designs have been shortlisted to become the official uniform that leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies will wear for their traditional group photo at the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam.
The designs have been submitted to the host country’s National Secretariat responsible for overseeing the event before either is selected for the APEC leaders to wear in Da Nang City this November.
APEC, or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, is the region’s premier economic forum whose 21 member economies are all inside the Pacific Rim.
The forum serves to promote and support sustainable economic growth, prosperity and free trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
Every year, the heads of government of all 21 APEC members gather for a meeting held in rotation amongst the member economies, usually including the tradition of dressing the attending leaders in the national costume of the host country for a gala dinner and group photo.
This year is the second time Vietnam has hosted the summit, and leading local fashion designers have been invited to submit their design ideas for the outfit, a process which began as early as last year.
Two out of the six submitted designs have been shortlisted, according to Vi Kien Thanh, director of the Department of Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Both designs feature patterns inspired by the lotus flower, which is considered Vietnam’s national flower, embodying the virtues of its citizens, and both are made from locally produced material.
The costume design submitted by Thai Tuan Textile and Garment Company.
The first design by Thai Tuan Textile and Garment uses a Jacquard weaving technique to highlight the lotus pattern on the front of the shirt, while the plackets are decorated with checkerboard patterns mimicking those found on a ‘khan ran,’ the traditional headscarf of southern Vietnam.
The crisp woven fabric of taffeta adds to the luxurious look of the costume.
The second outfit, by designer Thu Ha, is made from Vietnamese silk hand-dyed by artisan Nguyen Trong Tu, using his family’s traditional, secret technique.
The hand-dyed colors are elegant and suitable for a high-level summit of great importance.
Traditional Vietnamese silk also guarantees a comfortable and ventilated feel for wearers in the tropical heat of central Vietnam.
A grand embroidered lotus pattern is included on the right shoulder of the men’s shirts, and the left shoulder on the women’s shirts, highlighting the solemnity of the uniform.
The costume design submitted by designer Thu Ha.
Both designs will be reviewed by the APEC 2017 National Secretariat before being submitted to Vietnam’s leaders to make their final decision.
Vietnam has been a member of APEC since 1998, and first hosted the leaders' summit in 2006, where the traditional Vietnamese costume 'ao dai' was chosen to dress world leaders.
World leaders in the traditional Vietnamese costume 'ao dai' at the 2006 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre