Good Morning Towels
Posted by Remo Giuffré on
Iconic South East Asian Utility Cloth
There’s something very appealing about Good Morning Towels, don’t you reckon?
They are simple white terry cloth towels emblazoned with a bright red "Good Morning" greeting in wonky script and some Chinese characters that say "Zhu jun zao an”, in Pinyin, read from right to left in the traditional manner. This roughly translates to "Wish you early morning", a somewhat formal "Good morning" greeting. The number below the logo refers to the size … 96 being the most popular.
The perfect functional and aesthetic balance of a quality “GMT" (the affectionate acronym) is hard to beat. The material absorbs well, it isn't too thick, and the size is just sufficient that one could use it to dry off after bathing.
This is not a high end product. They are very inexpensive … around A$2 each from an Asian supermarket in Sydney last time we bought them. Even so, one should be aware of cheap(er) imitations. The originals are thicker and bear the woven blue edging.
Good Morning towels have a long history in South East Asia. They were originally produced for the Hong Kong market in the late 19th century, and were used widely in tea shops and noodle houses. The English greeting was added to appeal to the British expatriates who were then living in the colony, and they were most likely produced by an enterprising Chinese factory that saw the opportunity. The towels are now made in state factories in Guangdong Province, and are still ubiquitous in Hong Kong e.g. they are the only towels allowed for use by inmates in jails and prisons!
In the Philippines, you see them pretty much everywhere: strung around the neck of every jeepney driver and conductor within easy reach to mop up sweat; cut-up into rags to wipe down kitchen tables; and wrapped around the knuckles of the fist-fighting bad guys that occupy old school Pinoy action films.
As early as the 1920s, the Good Morning Towel was also a staple in Singapore, then a British colony. The towel was often seen draped across the shoulders of rickshaw pullers and labourers who helped build modern Singapore. So, for Singaporeans, the Good Morning Towel is a nostalgic symbol of the hard work their forefathers put in to establish their country. Singaporeans love these towels and they have become retro chic there. Such is their cult status that there are deluxe versions (plusher, fancier with golden embroidery) sold as souvenirs. (Ed: Not sure about those. Not as appealing.)
Throughout South East Asia and elsewhere in the world, the towels have been reborn as pouches, mugs, scarfs, and all manner of merchandise. There’s even an homage REMO design that pays tribute to its iconic graphic imagery. Browse that HERE.
1 to 3. Good Morning Towels
4. Barber with Good Morning Towel
5. Trishaw Driver
6. Spot the Difference
7. Deluxe Good Morning Towel Tribute from triggerhappy studios. Image: TRIGGERHAPPY.SG.
8. GMT as Head Scarf. Credits: Kenneth Lee jaydenation | JAYDEN TAN 陈健龙.
9. Good Morning Towel at REMO. Our Tribute Design HERE.
10. Good Morning T Shirt for Men (Unisex). Browse all Good Morning merchandise online at REMO HERE.
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I love these towels … and can never resist to buy all available stocks when I happen across them in an Asian supermarket. We use them at home in Bondi and at the river a lot … and I fondly remember a very hot South Australian road trip where they came in super handy as water soaked bandanas and cooling cloaks for our overheated schnoodle.