FASHION designer Annkie Chan would dress Chinese troops in denim if she had her way. ''It's cheap, it's wearable and it would bring the army and the population closer,'' she said. ''China is really making changes and opening up, and denim is a worldwide material - everybody owns a pair of jeans, even in China. ''Denim is seen as casual, but it can also be very smart, smart enough for a uniform.'' Being realistic, Ms Chan sees little chance of such a radical change in Chinese soldier fashion. But she hopes the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will modify their uniforms before they march into Hong Kong. ''They should make a total change in their uniforms to make a good impression with people when they come to Hong Kong,'' she said. ''I think people would prefer to see them in more sleek uniforms. Everyone has seen the PLA on TV and lots of people have a negative attitude about them. ''If they come down to Hong Kong in the same uniform, they will have the same image. ''I also believe the clothes you wear change a person's personality and when I designed these new uniforms I had that in mind. ''At the moment the soldiers don't look too happy in their uniforms - they are creased and do not fit. With new uniforms, they might be happier at work and take more care of themselves.'' Before designing her version of a new PLA uniform, Ms Chan researched military fashion around the world. ''The best are the Californian Highway Patrolmen who wear ski-pants which are practical and very smart. But I don't know if the Chinese are quite ready for that yet.'' After checking books and looking at uniforms in army surplus shops, Ms Chan took to the streets to canvass the views of the men who have to wear the clothes. She also spoke to soldiers, sailors and then asked Hong Kong policemen on the beat what they thought. ''They said they hardly used their pockets, as they were difficult to get things out of quickly, and bulky pockets spoiled the look of the uniform. So I decided to make slit pockets which still look good, but save a lot of time, material and money - thatcould be important with a big order for an army.'' She made many other small but stylish changes to her version of the PLA uniform. The red bars on the shoulder signify the responsibility on the shoulders of the troops, and the bars on the cuffs were added as a balance. She chose a different colour green for the shirts and the jackets and switched to black for the trousers. ''The green they use is a muddy colour which doesn't look good with Chinese skin - it makes the soldiers always look tired,'' she said. ''The green I chose is more of a primary colour and it looks good with black. ''The material used now is a very thin cotton, whereas I used a thicker polycotton, which is economical, easy to wash and iron and as it's a natural fabric, it shouldn't cause allergies. ''I don't really like uniforms, there are too many restrictions, but with a bit of imagination, you can use the military theme for some great designs.'' She said she would like to try some designs in blue, which she sees as a sincere and classical colour, and added, only half-jokingly, that she would like to order the PLA to wash their hair more often and get it cut well. After the restrictions of designing a uniform which could be worn by the PLA, Ms Chan is planning to let her imagination rip, but keeping the military theme. ''I'm really into Army stuff now, and there's so much you could do. ''I'm planning my first collection with a military theme and I'm going to design a whole range of clothes for men and women,'' she said.