These laundry-modelling grandparents are an Instagram sensation
Last Tuesday, 83-year-old Chang Wan-ji and his wife Hsu Hsiu-e, 84, celebrated reaching 50,000 Instagram followers with their 18th post. By Saturday their 19th marked a doubling of that figure. Three days later – at the time of writing – they're nudging half a million followers.
The owners of the Wansho Laundry in central Taiwan, the couple have been anonymously washing clothes for the last 70 years. Then lockdown happened. To keep them amused, their grandson, Reef Chang, talked them into dressing up in unclaimed clothes their customers had abandoned years ago. To everyone’s surprise the resulting account, @WantShowAsYoung, has become a huge hit, featuring in the style pages of the New York Times and on BBC News.
There they are in one picture, modelling sky-blue Converse, graphic t-shirts and plastic pimp shades, very Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys. And there, in complementary beige suits, styled out with rolled-up sleeves and cutting-edge attitude. Also there, beaming in bucket hats and hooded neon windbreakers, more forgotten laundry – or is it Off-White, S/S'20?
“They had nothing to do,” the younger Chang turned unofficial stylist told the New York Times. “I saw how bored they were and wanted to brighten up their lives.”
Faced with being unable to open shop, and understandably wary about going outside, the octogenarian proprietors of Wansho Laundry have happily moved in the opposite direction.
"My grandson is very creative,” Ms Hsu told the New York Times. “His creativity has made us happy, and other people, too.”
Becoming Instagram famous can be a notoriously short-run affair, and while Chang Wan-ji and Hsu Hsiu-e are quite reasonably baffled at the sudden global attention, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if their story had legs. Or formed the basis for the next Gucci campaign.
Either way, they’ve already provided a noble public service – in more ways than one. As posts on @WantShowAsYoung suggest “A friendly reminder｜Don’t forget to pick up your laundry.”
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