#ViệtPhụcMuônNăm art challenge promotes ao dai-wearing

The topic of wearing ao dai in daily life has been trending these days, and Vietnamese artists across the world have jumped onto the bandwagon by launching #ViệtPhụcMuônNăm, or the #VietnameseTraditionalClothing challenge

Through this challenge, illustrators and manga artists express their support for the revival of the ao daiwearing tradition among men by drawing male manga-style characters clad in ao dai. 

Vietnamese netizens use manga to promote ao dai-wearing

ao dai illustration_challenge
A sketch showing ao dai-clad Vietnamese teachers teaching The Tale of Kieu in Sino-Vietnamese characters
Image credit: Nguyễn Quỳnh

Every culture is interesting, but with an extra dose of fantasy elements, more young people will be inspired to study about and cherish it. 

With this in mind, a group of culture enthusiasts have decided to revive the ao daiwearing tradition through visual art. This drawing challenge specifically aims to promote ao daiwearing among Vietnamese men, especially male students, many of whom no longer have ao dai as a fixture in their daily wardrobes.  

ao dai for men illustration
2 students solving a math puzzle
Image credit: Châu Chặt Chém

The #ViệtPhụcMuônNăm challenge was launched about a week ago, inspiring local manga artists and illustrators to showcase their sketches featuring Vietnamese men in ao dai with all types of designs. 

ao dai girls and boys illustration
Ao dai styles from the 1880s
Image credit: Tuyền Thanh Rat

Tuyền Thanh Rat, a local artist, went as far as drawing sketches portraying different designs of Vietnamese ao dai throughout the years. 

ao dai girls and boys illustration
Ao dai styles from the 1950s
Image credit: Tuyền Thanh Rat

In response to the common opinion that ao dai looks feminine and isn’t convenient to wear in everyday life, artist Lop Lop drew a sketch showing male students playing sports comfortably in loose ao dai.

ao dai illustration_challenge

Image credit: Lop Lop

Meanwhile, artist Huế Hành shows netizens that men can look cool and sporty while pulling off their hip-hop moves in ao dai

ao dai hip hop illustration
Image credit: Huế Hành

Even though ao dai is the last outfit anyone would wear to a fight, seeing a Vietnamese girl and boy in ao dai getting ready for some stunts might make us want to wear ao dai to a martial arts lesson. 

ao dai girls and boys illustration
Image credit: Hân Trần

But if you ever have to enter a fight in self-defense while wearing your ao dai, check out Jay Le Paninie’s guideline on how to fight in ao dai using the long cloth flaps to gain leverage over your opponent – by using them to choke and overpower the enemy.

ao dai illustration_#vietphucmuonnam challenge
Image adapted from: Jay Le Paninie

Reactions from netizens

Within less than a week, the #ViệtPhụcMuônNăm challenge has been accepted by many independent artists and drawn tremendous attention from netizens.

Mixed reactions have been recorded in the comment sections of each photo, with many people offering different opinions.

ao dai illustration_#vietphucmuonnam challenge
Image adapted from: Tuyền Thanh Rat

“Imagine both men and women wearing ao dai every Monday morning. Too cute to be true!” Facebook user Như Nguyễn commented, expressing her full support for the idea of making ao dai a school uniform for both male and female students.

ao dai illustration_challenge
Image adapted from: Jay Le Paninie

Facebook user Hudson Aliee offered a fashion mix-and-match suggestion in her comment, “Male ao dai looks very stylish, and can be paired with jeans for a sporty look. However, the flaps should end at knee level for convenient movement.”

ao dai illustration_challenge
Image adapted from: Đặng Thị Mỵ Đình

Facebook user Hi No Aoi commented, “Male students should wear black ao dai with white pants, while female students should go for white ao dai with black pants. This getup would look sophisticated and clean.”

However, not all netizens are onboard with the idea of wearing ao dai in everyday situations.

ao dai illustration_challenge
Image adapted from: Mỹ Hiền

Facebook user Đặng Phương Trang expressed her view on the revival of this tradition in a straightforward tone, “It (ao dai) is inconvenient for both female and male wearers and nobody should be obligated to wear it.”

This met vehement objections from other netizens, showing how relevant the ao dai-wearing topic is among young people. 

Vietnamese artists use manga to encourage ao dai-wearing among men

The Vietnamese ao dai is one of the world’s most recognizable traditional garments, worn by both men and women in both formal and casual occasions. Throughout decades, the popularity of ao dai-wearing among men has subsided significantly and only reemerged recently through heated debates about tradition-reviving movements on the Internet.

While there is no wrong response to this revival movement, it’s good news that more Vietnamese young people are becoming more interested in studying about and preserving Vietnamese culture

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Cover image adapted from: Phương Hoài Lâm, Nguyen Chén, Châu Chặt Chém

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