Wigs made in China can be sold to every corner of the world (photo)
From birth, production to sales, a wig is going through a global adventure. The wigs on the heads of Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga and Rihanna may have come from other women, whether they were Cambodian peasant women, Vietnamese brides or Hindu female pilgrims.
In the writings of American writer O. Henry, the heroine Della in “The Gift of the Maggie” sold her long hair for a Christmas present for her husband in exchange for a platinum watch chain. The plot in the novel is not made up by the author, and the real hair in the wig is mainly from long undyed hair. Known as “black gold”, they are more expensive because they are scarce.
According to the “Securities Times” report, in the early 21st century, the price of human hair was 200-300 yuan per kilogram, and in 2021 China’s 60-centimeter braided hair has been sold for 6,400 yuan per kilogram. A wig operator revealed to reporters that at present, hair suppliers are mainly from Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Cambodia and other countries, as well as rural areas in northern China and ethnic minority areas such as Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan.
These real hairs from all over the world are collected by senders and receivers in Chinese factories, and after a series of processing and packaging, they are sold all over the world. /picture·
These real hairs from all over the world are collected by senders and receivers in Chinese factories, and after a series of processing and packaging, they are sold all over the world. In Xuchang, Henan, everyone can have a more or less relationship with the wig industry. Whether you are a manufacturer, a distributor or an online shop owner, even the local peasant women will do some manual work of wig crocheting in their spare time.
Thanks to the development of cross-border e-commerce, wigs made in China can be sold to every corner of the world. On cross-border e-commerce platforms, one Xuchang hair product is traded every two seconds. Of every 10 wigs in the world, 6 come from Xuchang.
People are conservative,
Big patrons in America and Africa
When overtime becomes the norm, the troubles of hair loss become younger and younger.
In China, more and more young people are trying to buy wigs. According to data from the Huajing Industry Research Institute, the market size of my country’s wig industry in 2021 will be 9.2 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 15.3%. Among them, wig consumers under the age of 40 accounted for 46%.
Not only ordinary people have the problem of “hair volume anxiety”, but celebrities are no exception.
During the recording of the show, Peng Yuchang’s bangs wig fell off because of his head shaking.
When the female star’s wig fell off unexpectedly on the show, they did not show embarrassment, but admitted that they had hair loss troubles. This kind of magnanimity not only left the impression of being approachable to the public, but also brought fire to the wig.
Different from overseas customers, Chinese people’s aesthetic preference for wigs is more conservative, mainly because of the difference in their demand for wigs.
During the reporter’s visit to the well-known domestic wig brands Rebecca and V’S, their clerks all said that among the customers who buy wigs, the customers who have rigid needs for wigs such as baldness, white hair cover and pathological problems are the main ones. An offline wig shop owner also said that 70% of the wigs in his store are basic wigs, which mainly meet the rigid needs of the above types of customers, and the remaining 30% are fashion wigs, and the customer base is young people who pursue fashion.
On June 14, 2022, Xuchang, Henan. In the international hair products trading market, staff are selling wig products live. /Picture·Visual China
The owner of the wig shop, Xu Jing, has been in the wig sales industry for 10 years. He has a store on the second floor of Wangfujing Department Store in Taiyuan, Shanxi. In Xu Jing’s store, the “Sales King” is a full-hand-woven, 100% real hair dark red medium-length hair set, priced at 5,200 yuan. Her customers are mainly middle-aged and elderly women, and the best-selling styles are those with dark red and brown coffee colors, which look a little old-fashioned to young people.
Xu Jing occasionally encounters lavish patrons. A mine owner’s wife who came to Taiyuan from Pingyao for shopping once went to Xujing’s store to try on a wig, and immediately fell in love with the most expensive wig in the store – a long black wig with a price of more than 10,000 yuan. A few days later, the lady told Xu Jing that she didn’t wear this hair cover, because her son told her that she looked like a female ghost “Sadako” after wearing it, and it was “too scary”.
Xu Jing found that many women who love beauty would prefer this long black straight wig with an extraordinary length. A woman who is a teacher originally wanted to buy a mink coat in the mall, but went into Xu Jing’s wig shop. With thick hair, she also liked this wig because she liked the feeling of “long hair fluttering”.
For Europeans and Americans, wigs are as important as makeup, clothes, shoes and bags, and are an important part of their external image. /picture·
According to Xu Jing’s observation, contrary to the conservative aesthetic preferences of the Chinese, the choices of white European and American customers will be more diverse, and the styles will be more exaggerated. For them, wigs are as important as makeup, clothes, shoes, and bags, and are an important part of their appearance. Matching different wigs on different occasions is the norm of their lives.
For African American groups, the existence of wigs is almost a necessity. Their hair is generally dry, and it is easy to fall off when it is a little longer, and it is not easy to take care of. In the U.S. alone, wig and hair accessories stores have net income of $391 million a year, and black Americans are one of their most loyal customers, according to the data.
Like the Americas, Africa is the main export destination for Chinese wigs. Taking Rebecca, a leading hair products company in Xuchang as an example, its annual report shows that more than 80% of its operating income in 2021 will come from overseas, with America and Africa accounting for 39.32% and 36.99% respectively.
On April 14, 2022, in Yichun, Jiangxi, workers rushed to make wigs in the workshop. /Figure IC
The global industry chain behind wigs
At present, the global wig industry is mainly supplied by women in Asia. Chinese manufacturers are responsible for production and sales, and the Korean commune is responsible for crocheting. Wigs will eventually be sold to the Americas, Africa and other parts of the world.
Like many industries, the difference in profit distribution began to appear as early as the most upstream of the wig industry chain – the sending and receiving stage. According to a report on the American fashion and lifestyle website, in Russia, the highest quality hair on the market is purchased for 137-200 US dollars per kilogram, but in Cambodia and Vietnam, most senders and receivers can buy an entire village for only a few dollars. woman’s hair.
Chinese factories are located in the middle of the industrial chain. AliExpress data shows that the global wig market has reached 100 billion US dollars, and China’s exports account for 80% of the global total.
Wig making process. /Figure·Figureworm Creative
According to a report by Henan Daily in August 2022, there are currently more than 4,000 hair product-related business enterprises in Xuchang City alone, with more than 300,000 employees, and the market covers more than 120 countries and regions. This means that in Xuchang, a small city with a permanent population of more than 4 million, one out of every 15 Xuchang people is in a fake business.
The development history of Xuchang’s wig industry is the epitome of the global transfer history of the wig industry chain.
The origin of Xuchang people’s fake business can be traced back to a hundred years ago. In 1902, when Bai Xihe from Xuchang was doing business in Shandong, he saw German businessmen exchange steel needles for women’s hair, which were processed and sold to Europe at high prices. Bai Xihe told the villagers about this method. Driven by Bai Xihe, fellow villagers joined the African-American wigs in the industry one after another , and gradually learned the processing skills. They also tied human hair into different lengths and grades, and named it “file hair”, which sold well internationally. market.
In the 1980s, because of China’s low labor costs and abundant raw materials for real hair, many Koreans came to China to set up wig factories, and Chinese factories could only do some low-end OEMs. In the 1990s, wig manufacturers represented by Rebecca began to try to break down technical barriers and gradually develop the Chinese wig industry. Today, with the rise of domestic labor costs, the industrial links represented by crocheting have also begun to transfer to other countries.
Xu Qiang, the owner of the online wig shop, witnessed the transfer process of the wig industry with his own eyes. Xu Qiang and his uncle are both from Xuchang. The uncle runs a wig processing factory, and Xu Qiang owns a Taobao online store. Both generations have been in the wig business. According to Xu Qiang, the wig industry has an industrial chain, which requires the cooperation of three industries – hair dealers, factories and outsourcers for crocheting.
Crochet wig. /Figure·Figureworm Creative
Crocheting is a delicate work that tests the patience of workers. Because crocheting is too troublesome and eye-consuming, domestic workers are reluctant to do it, so the industry gradually declines in the country. In the past, some factories also considered training crochet masters in Vietnam and Myanmar, but to no avail.
In the past two years, affected by the epidemic, domestic wig factories have faced the problem of tight inventory. Xu Qiang once saw some bosses squatting at the factory gate in the middle of the night in order to grab the remaining inventory.
Why on earth are you wearing a wig?
Why do humans like to wear wigs? In ancient Egypt, wearing a wig was not only a symbol of a person’s social status, but also protected the scalp of ancient Egyptians who liked to shave their heads from sunburn. The French aristocracy’s admiration for wigs originated from the premature balding of King Louis XIII. To hide his hair loss, he started wearing elaborate wigs.
After the French Revolution, the importance of wigs in France began to fade away.
Meanwhile, in Colonial America, stylish gentlemen kept up with the latest wig styles in London and Paris. In the 1770s, wigs became obsolete, and many men stopped shaving their heads—except for men with special occupations, such as judges.
Judge with wig. /Figure·Figureworm Creative
And in the far east, people rarely wear wigs. Wigs will only appear in traditional theatre performances in East Asian countries.
In the United States, the discussion about African-American women wearing wigs is not limited to the biological level, but also involves issues of racial equality.
After American Reconstruction, black women were no longer enslaved, but they were still excluded. They started to model white people, and hair was the starting point to move closer to the white image. In the early 1900s, Mrs. CJ Walker became the first black female millionaire African-American wig , and part of her business profits came from selling electric combs and other hair-straightening products.
By the 1970s, in disdain for this oppressive ornament, many women began to pick Afros (a round, tightly curled hair) in large numbers.
The black movement of the era encouraged women to embrace their black identity, including their natural hair texture. But Afros were quickly seen as a threat by whites, and many young men who wore them were fired.
“Does she feel insecure about her African-American identity?”
Woman trimming wig. /picture·
To this day, an African-American man wearing a wig in public can still face criticism. However, if she chooses not to wear a wig, she may be considered by her employers and colleagues as free and dignified due to her natural “messy” hairstyle.
Whether it’s to cover baldness or pursue fashion trends, whether it’s seeking to be consistent with others or deliberately differentiated, the reasons why people choose wigs are so different. But the wig dealers in Xuchang don’t care about this, they only care where the next wig will be sold.
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