Say goodbye to runway models and the catwalk, as China has come up with a new way to display fashion. This fashion show is held in Huai’an City located in the eastern province of China, Jiangsu. It’s the talk of the town as this fashion show does not use the usually beautiful and slender human models, rather, the stars of the show are feisty and hairy mitten crabs. The fashion designers are the local participants.
This fashion show is a part of the Hongze Lake Harvest Festival. It is held every year and has been ongoing for around 70 years now. The festival celebrates the harvest of the mitten crabs, also known as hairy crabs. It is held during the peak harvesting season which is, generally, in the months of September and October. This is a very popular breed of crab, a seasonal delicacy, and is in high demand across the country. The city harvests about 6,000 tons of mitten crabs each year.
The crabs participating in this show are, perhaps, happy to be a part of it as they don’t end up being eaten. The locals believe that eating the models in the year they participate is bad luck. This means that the crabs who model for the show will certainly get to live another year.
The fashion show also has another motive. Local government officials started the show to create an exciting buzz for the city and to bring tourists and buyers to the area to promote the sale of this Chinese delicacy and a local favorite. Traditionally, business deals and contracts were finalized with crab farmers during the festival itself. Now, large national and international companies already have formal contracts for the purchase of these crabs established with the local vendors and farmers, so there isn’t any commercial need for the fashion show. As a result, the show now is largely an effort to bring the community together.
There are approximately 150 participants and the objective is to artistically dress or decorate the model crabs. The apparel fashion ranges from traditional attire to modern or anime-related costumes and outfits. Some participants even dress their crabs in wedding dresses as brides and bridegrooms. Those who decorate the crabs use paints, lace, sequins, jewelry, ribbons, and glitter to make their crabs stand out. The hand-painted crabs are judged differently from the dressed crabs. Some crab outfits are also made to match the attire of their owners. As a result, the fashion show is, without a doubt, a burst of colors, style, and joy. The uniqueness of the show also creates an environment in which people pump their creativity skills and the outcome is a great source of entertainment for the entire community.
Technology, too, has been incorporated into the fashion show over the years. Now, the crabs are brought to the catwalk attached to remotely operated drones. It is a fun way to unite tradition and celebration to something that is very dear to the region. The mitten crabs are the main source of income for most in the city. The festival provides a great opportunity for the people to get together and pays tribute to their occupation and their dear and hairy mitten crabs.