Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Bo’s modesty over his ‘home town’ suits belies their appeal among rich
In the final day of his feisty defence against corruption and other charges, Bo Xilai told the court he had no interest in clothing, his long johns were 50 years old, and his suits were all made in Dalian, where he was mayor from 1993 to 2000.
"I can tell you, the jacket that I'm wearing and the suits in my wardrobe were produced by a township business in Xinjin county of Dalian. I have no interest in what I wear. The long johns that I'm wearing now were bought by my mother in the 1960s," he said.
The county mentioned by Bo is now called Pulandian, known as the mainland's "suits town" and home to 6,000 garment factories. The most well-known among them is Shanghai-listed Dayang Trands which makes 10 million suits a year, many of them exported.
Bo's tailoring choices may have been modest, but the suits from Dayang Trands are certainly not what everyday Chinese can afford. Their prices ranges from 5,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan (HK$6,300 to HK$100,600). Tailor-made ones can be even more expensive.
Dayang Trands has been patronised by China's state leaders and world billionaires alike. In a video released by the company in August 2009 to mark the 30th anniversary of its founding, investment guru Warren Buffett praised the brand, saying the suits he wore from them fit him perfectly and he had thrown away all his older suits.
In the video, Buffett said he and Bill Gates, who also wears Trands suits, should start a clothing store and sell the suits. Buffett now has nine Trands suits. In the days following the video's release, Trands stock reportedly climbed more than 200 per cent.
Li Guilian, 67, founded the business in 1979 with borrowed money and with 65 sewing machines worked by housewives. In 2001, she was ranked 84th on Forbes' list of China's 100 richest business people with her wealth estimated at US$70 million.