What Is ‘Neo-Chinese Style’ and Why Is It (Still) Trending?

Sinicized fashion is here to stay, and ‘neo-Chinese style’ is its latest, coolest development

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Beatrice Tamagno Headshot
5:34 PM HKT, Mon September 5, 2022 1 mins read

Never thought you’d ever see a cyberpunk Tang suit? Or a Y2K version of the qipao? Think again!

‘Neo-Chinese style’ (新中式, xin zhongshi) is the latest and most exciting chapter in the unofficial book of guochao (国潮) fashion.

neo chinese styòe

Outfits from Chinese brand Loumutaku’s lookbook. Image via Taobao

Literally meaning ‘national trend,’ guochao is fueled by Chinese consumers’ increasing interest in domestic brands that celebrate Chinese traditions, customs, and culture. Its early days saw a prevalence of streetwear and athleisure brands such as Li-Ning.

Neo-Chinese fashion, meanwhile, often features Chinese elements in subtler ways and pairs them with other modern aesthetics, such as dyed hair and bold makeup.

Following the publication of a white paper titled ‘2022 Taobao and Tmall Apparel Industry Trends Report’ on August 26, the hashtag ‘Why has neo-Chinese style gone viral?’ (#为什么新中式穿搭火了#) has been trending on the microblogging platform Weibo and garnered more than 230 million views.

According to the report, Zoomers are undoubtedly the most significant players shaping the Chinese fashion industry. Moreover, they are embracing a variety of more diverse styles, including the neo-Chinese style.

chinese style

Outfits from Chinese brand Cuudiclab’s lookbook. Image via Taobao

Influenced by the rise of Douyin and Xiaohongshu, China’s answers to TikTok and Instagram, neo-Chinese style has dramatically evolved over the past few years. Niche Gen Z communities in China thrive on these platforms, sharing everything from their OOTD (outfit of the day) to makeup tutorials and masterful cosplay getups.

A search on Xiaohongshu reveals the hashtag ‘Neo-Chinese Style’ (#新中式#) has been viewed approximately 130 million times, while ‘Neo-Chinese Style Outfits’ (#新中式穿搭#) has been viewed more than 72 million times.

chinese style

Fashionista Mirabelle (left) modeling three autumn outfits in pastel and earthy tones, and 落水三千 (right) sporting a dark, avant-garde look. Images via Xiaohongshu

In addition to sharing pictures of their outfits, Xiaohongshu users list their favorite brands specializing in neo-Chinese style. Many of these lists often feature high fashion labels such as Yueqi Qi and Samuel Guì Yang, as well as emerging brands like Apozi Collection, Loumutaku, and Tilt Knees; the latter are only sold on Taobao and are hard to find outside China.

Some of these brands gravitate towards neutral colors and sophisticated vibes when interpreting neo-Chinese style; others borrow elements from trending aesthetics like Y2K and cyberpunk.

chinese style

Fashion influencer 大道 modeling a neo-Chinese style getup that combines Chinese elements with goth aesthetics. Image via Xiaohongshu

The success of neo-Chinese style stems from the ongoing national trend craze, but it can also be attributed to crossover creativity. With their daring and experimental fashion sense, Chinese youth feel seen by brands that combine elements of their culture with the digital world and niche aesthetics.

Cover image designed by Zhuohan Shao

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