Shanghai’s Youngest Playboy

This morning, while riding my apartment building’s interminably slow elevator, I noticed a puckish 12-year-old boy (I asked) carrying a basketball and wearing a Yao Ming jersey, khaki shorts, black socks, and a pair of Playboy gym shoes.


After five years in China, I am no longer surprised or even interested when I see somebody in clothing that bears the notorious Playboy bunny logo. It’s utterly commonplace and acceptable. As Jeremy Goldkorn notes in this extended 2005 article in the Hong Kong Standard: in China, the Playboy brand has nothing to do with the magazine (which is banned, despite several efforts to license it), and everything to do with the 650 retail outlets that sell Playboy merchandise – mostly clothing. In China, the Playboy bunny is no more controversial than the Izod alligator or the Polo, er, polo player. It’s a status symbol, and not much else.

That said, this morning was the first time that I can recall having seeing a child in the infamous logo and so I found myself mulling – really, mulling – whether I should take a photo (I had a camera with me). Finally, after exiting the elevator, I stopped the boy in front of our building and snapped the above image. He was completely bewildered by why I would want to take a photo of the back of his feet – and, to an extent, so was I. But in the end, I just smiled at him and said, “Nice shoes.” Which, truth be told, they are.

2 thoughts on “Shanghai’s Youngest Playboy

  1. I had to chuckle when I read this. The thought of a proper English parent allowing her child out into the daylight in a pair of Playboy sneakers is really funny. Wouldn’t happen, either. But if it did, the kid wearing them could expect a fight – and a real beating – down at the local basketball court in my old neighborhood.

  2. i would have to say wearing the logo has nothing to do with the actual posing it is just a fashion trend. Some of you may not like it but in the end parents really have no say in what their kids can wear and can’t wear. All of this is coming from me and what i believe. I am only 16 and i wear the logo. it doesn’t mean anything it is just fashion like i said. just cause you wear it doesn’t mean im going to be a playmate. and all the parents need to understand that!

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