In addition to their reputation for novelty foods night markets in Taiwan also offer an almost endless variety of cheap goods, particularly clothing and accessories. Much of Taiwanese night market fashion is amusing, quirky, provocative, bizarre, or even incoherent, though some of it is also quite clever. My understanding is that a lot of the weirder stuff originates in China, where massive factories churn out garments emblazoned with English text and pop culture references without regard for semantic meaning. This is almost certainly the result of copying passages from print or online media, using machine translation, or sheer laziness, but it might also be for aesthetic effect. Transcription errors are common, particularly when popular designs are copied by competing factories. Observed on the scale of years there is something almost evolutionary at work in night market fashion—styles mutate and are subject to a kind of natural selection. To celebrate the absurdity of this curious cultural phenomena I have assembled about 40 photos from my many visits to the night markets of Taiwan, almost all of which I have previously been shared on my Instagram account, the perfect vehicle for such inanity. Enjoy!
Most of these photos were captured at the Tonghua 通化, Raohe 饒河, and Lehua 樂華 night markets in the Taipei 台北 area and the Fengjia 逢甲 and Yizhong 一中 night markets in Taichung 台中. If you’re keen to see more amusing stuff from Taiwan check out my posts about Chinglish, road safety dummies, and scooter stickers.