Apec leaders and what they wore over the years for the obligatory 'family' photo

This article was first published on Nov 10, 2014, and updated on Nov 21, 2016

The family photo of Apec leaders has become a tradition at meetings over the years. The issue of what leaders will wear has also become a point of curiosity for onlookers. It is not easy to coordinate outfits for some of the most powerful political figures in the world. The fashion choices have to be dignified as well as camera-friendly.

After flirting with fashion disaster by decking out delegates in shapeless ponchos the last time it hosted the Apec summit in 2008, Peru dialed it down in 2016.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his fellow leaders sported long, brown shawls draped over their shoulders. They were made from the coveted wool of the vicuna, a llama-like animal.

We take a look in our file photos to see what Apec leaders have donned in Apec meetings over the years.

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In this 1994 file photo taken in Bogor, Indonesia, the Apec leaders are togged out in dignified batik shirts. The different prints offer variety as well as a unifying theme.

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For the family photo in 1997, taken outside the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the choice was leather bomber jackets. It was uniform, and boring, if weather appropriate.

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In 2004, host Chile offered leaders colourful reversible ponchos handwoven with silk thread and wool, decorated with traditional motifs like barley, wheat and pansies.

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The choice was traditional for Korea in 2005, where leaders were offered durumagi, a traditional silk overcoat, in various shares of gold, brown, silver, dark blue and light green. The two women leaders - Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark - had the additional options of pink and purple.

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At least the women were offered a choice in Korea. In Vietnam the following year, the women were stuck in a bright Barbie pink outfit and hat which were not very flattering, to say the least. The men got away with more muted shades of blue, red, yellow and green for their ao dai.

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The dowdy raincoats for the 2007 Sydney shoot must rank at the bottom of the style stakes. Even the 1997 bomber jackets had a bit of swashbuckle to them.

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In Singapore in 2009, the Apec leaders were togged out in snazzy Peranakan-inspired outfits thanks to home-grown designer Wykidd Song.


In 2014, host China went with the safe choice: Chinese jacket for the men, and cheongsam with long jacket in a matching shade for the women.

When it was the Philippines' turn to host the summit in 2015, leaders trooped on stage for the photo-op togged out in a fashionable national garment: the barong tagalog.

The traditional shirts, boasting a semi-sheer fabric made from pineapple fibre mixed with silk, were said to be soft and comfortable.

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