Robot pandas and board shorts: Chinese military launches aircraft carrier clothing line August 18, 2021

Aircraft carriers are kind ofcool. Anybody who’s ever seen “Top Gun” can attest to that. But only a few of the world’s navies have the industrial and technological capabilities to build them. In 2017, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) joined that club, launching the Shandong , the country’s first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier.

The vessel has since become a symbol of the PLAN’s ascent to become the world’s largest navy, with modern, powerful and sleek warships joining the fleet at a rapid pace.

Capitalizing on the prominence of the Shandong, the carrier is now getting its own clothing line, a collection of T-shirts, jackets, a cold-weather parka, coveralls and board and basketball shorts, as China tries to increase the military’s popularity among young people.

The clothing line combines practical workwear with graphic prints. Credit: PLA Navy Unveiled via a street-style photo shoot, which sees smoldering models posing in front of the 70,000-ton ship, the collection combines practical workwear with casual items bearing cartoon graphics. One T-shirt is imprinted with the image of a robot panda, complete with jets in its paws.

A PLA Navy website paints wearing the apparel as a patriotic statement.

“Passion is the love of the aircraft carrier cause,” it says. “It’s the love of the battle position.”

For those serving on the Shandong, the clothing lets them show their pride by telling the world, “I am from the Shandong ship of the Chinese Navy,” reads a post on the website.

“This is the proudest proclamation of sailors,” it adds.

A photo shoot sees models posing on the aircraft carrier’s launch ramp. Credit: PLA Navy Merchandise manufacturer Glory Made is behind the youthful fashion line, according to a report in the state-run Global Times on Wednesday. The company had already designed the carrier’s logo as well as a line of baseball caps and sunglasses to go along with it, the tabloid reported.

Now the company has designed products “ with a more youthful feel to attract the public’s interest in naval culture and to allow them to feel the positive energy the aircraft carrier has brought to the country,” the report said.

The public relations move fits into a long line of PLA efforts to promote the military among the Chinese public. China’s movie industry has created its own military blockbusters, including 2017’s “ Wolf Warrior 2 ” which portrays an elite Chinese soldier rescuing hostages in Africa, and “Operation Red Sea,” with a similar theme but with battle scenes and military hardware shots the equal of what US filmmakers put forth.

A number of the graphic T-shirts feature images of pandas. Credit: PLA Navy Meanwhile, the Chinese military itself has been producing slick videos showing Chinese troops in action, including a controversial 2020 PLA Air Force one that appears to use the US Andersen Air Force Base on Guam as the target of a simulated missile attack. Earlier this year, the PLA Navy touted the Shandong in a three-and-half minute video that showed off the carrier’s capabilities.

But despite being commissioned more than a year and a half ago, the ship is still ramping up to operational status as crews get familiar with its systems and test them in high-seas scenarios.

Andnow, they’ve got some new gear to do that in.