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.