Taiwan: Octogenarian laundry owners become fashion icons on Instagram

  • Taiwan: Octogenarian laundry owners become fashion icons on Instagram
    Chang Wan-chi (張萬吉), 83, and Hsu Hsiu-e (許秀娥) Taiwan: Octogenarian laundry owners become fashion icons on Instagram
By Focus Taiwan
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 An octogenarian couple that runs a laundromat and dry-cleaning business in central Taiwan has been creating waves on Instagram, modeling abandoned clothing, with the help of their grandson.

After less than a month on Instagram, Chang Wan-chi (張萬吉), 83, and Hsu Hsiu-e (許秀娥), 84, have gained 220,000 followers, who seem not be able to get enough of the couple posing in creative outfits made of forgotten or unwanted garments.

The idea to set up the "wantshowasyoung" Instagram account grew out of their grandson's efforts to help Chang and Hsu avoid boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a slowdown in their laundromat and dry-cleaning business deterred them from wanting to go out.

The laundry in the rural township of Houli in Taichung was opened some 70 years ago as WantShow Laundry, a name that drew on one character in each of the owners' names, and it has been staffed solely by the couple.

Over the years, a stack of abandoned clothing accumulated at the laundry, which sparked their grandson's idea of the couple modeling some of the garments.

In one photo on Instagram, Chang and Hsu are seen posing in front of a washing machine in eclectic outfits that include canvas shoes.

"The husband Chang, 160 centimeters tall, is wearing a tie as a belt and a souvenir T-shirt that says "Budapest" on the front, which was left at the laundry at least eight years ago," the caption reads.

That post drew 44,000 likes, many of them from countries such as the United States, China, and the United Kingdom.

"In the beginning, we never thought the posts would attract the attention of people in foreign countries," the couple's 31-year-old grandson Reef Chang (張瑞夫) told CNA. "It never occurred to grandpa and grandma, in particular, that they would look cool to foreign nationals."

For the octogenarian couple, they initially went along with Reef's idea to help showcase his creativity, they said, adding that they now feel like they have grandchildren all over the world.

Some of the overwhelming number of comments they have received include posts from people saying how much they miss their grandparents, the couple said.

Chang Wan-chi said he will continue with the modeling because he also wants to encourage elderly people to remain active.

"I have aged a lot, but I am not old," he said, adding that he feels 50 years younger when he is dressed up in the abandoned clothing.

Hsu, meanwhile, said life has become more enjoyable, with many people calling to complement her on her modeling.

For Reef, his gratification comes from seeing the smiles on his grandparents' faces and the positive energy they have gained.

"I see how they have changed over time, becoming more cheerful," Reef said. "That, along with their fame, makes me happy. I hope it will inspire others to pay greater attention to their elderly loved ones."

Of course, Reef said, he also hopes the fame of his modeling grandparents will serve as a friendly reminder to people to pick up their laundry.