Conspicuous consumption is everywhere on the streets of Shanghai, China these days. From the Prada, Chanel and Tiffany megastores to the ubiquitous Starbucks signs and McDonalds motorcycle deliverymen.
It is hard to fathom this is the same China we associate with the dire poverty from just a few decades ago. For sure there are the one percenters v. 99-percenters, and there is rural poverty in Western China, (unfortunately these is plenty of rural poverty in the US) but it seems that for some in the Shanghai middle class, things are better. One tiny example of this upward mobility are the clothes these dog owners buy for their beloved pets.
I happened upon these dogs, and the people who love them, and knew I had to act fast. No one was taking pictures. I speak no Mandarin, and no one in the vicinity spoke a word of English, which is quite common in Shanghai. So I held up my phone, in a gesture of permission. The dog owners didn’t throw anything at me, but they weren’t smiling either. “Who is this weird guy, and why is he so interested in our dogs?” was the subtext I swore I read on their faces. So I started shooting, quickly. The results are what you see here.
Since there is the language barrier, there are no interviews, and I was on vacation and did not have a translator/fixer to do my bidding, I just have these pictures to share.
The reason why the little pup with pearls is decked out in red is because, especially during the Chinese New Year, red symbolizes good luck, health and prosperity throughout the year. If that is so, this little fashion plate is going to have the time of her life during the Year of the Dragon. Happy New Year!
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