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By Eun Kyung Kim

Style statement or silly custom?

The purple silk tunic donned by President Obama and other world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing has drawn snickers about the group being beamed down from a Star Trek episode.




But those eggplant tunics are actually a tradition that has lived long and prospered as a sign of unity. 

Each year, the APEC host provides an outfit for guests that reflects its country. The tradition began in 1993, when President Bill Clinton provided bomber jackets to each world leader in attendance.

Since then, the attire has included ponchos, raincoats and batik shirts. Here's a look back at some of the more memorable APEC outfits:

President Obama walks with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye after posing Monday for the APEC family photo in Beijing.MANDEL NGAN / Today
President George W. Bush wears a poncho during the 2008 APEC Summit in Lima, Peru.MANDEL NGAN / Today
1998: Vice President Al Gore, in a batik shirt with Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, in Malaysia.ITSUO INOUYE / Today
President Bill Clinton does "the wave" in 1996 with Thai Prime Minister Barnharn Silpa-Archa in the Philippines. ITSUO INOUYE / Today
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a Balinese "endek," in Indonesia in 2013.AFP / Today
President George W. Bush in 2001 in Shanghai.LIU JIN / Today
President Clinton in Brunei, 2000. RICK BOWMER / Today

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.