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Sun Protection Clothing in China Goes From Laughable to Fashionable

You heard it here first, folks: Chinese Zoomers who once shunned comical sun protection clothing are embracing more stylish options by local brands

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4 days ago 1 mins read

Global warming, be damned! A drastic heat wave in China, which has caused more than 70 cities to hit record temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius, has also birthed a new fashion trend in the country.


Chinese youth, increasingly concerned about their wellbeing, are ordering sun protection clothing and accessories en masse and sharing their OOTDs (outfit of the day) on social media.


On Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media platform that some liken to Instagram, the hashtag for ‘sun protection clothing’ (#防晒衣#) has 100 million views and produces over 500,000 results.


china facekini summer trend

Samples of sun protective gear in China. Photos via Xiaohongshu


From tips on pairing sun protection items to comparisons of brands, most content under the hashtag pertains to fashion.


Though comical at first glance, the current hype surrounding sun protection clothing is just a manifestation of China’s centuries-old — and arguably unhealthyobsession with fair complexions.


While we have nothing against sun protection gear, you have to admit that Chinese consumers often take the category of clothing to the next level. Among the near-grotesque summer accessories to come out of China in recent years is the infamous facekini (a portmanteau for ‘face’ and ‘bikini’). Think of it as the lovechild of a balaclava and a gimp mask.


Invented by a Qingdao resident in 2012, the facekini enjoyed relative popularity in China for a few years but never really took off among more fashion-conscious youth.


Conversely, Chinese Zoomers constitute the sun protection clothing market’s largest audience at present, underscores a 2022 industry report.


Specializing in sun protection gear such as hoodies, hats, arm sleeves, and oversized face masks, Ohsunny, Beneunder, and Bananain are some domestic brands favored by Chinese youth.


facekini china

Sun protection gear by Ohsunny, Beneunder, and Bananain. Images via Taobao


While Western audiences might find the above accessories far from fashionable, they are undoubtedly an improvement upon their garish forerunners. Produced using high-quality materials in pastel shades, the new fashion items don’t come cheap either; most headgear costs between 27 to 55 USD on average.


Investing in idol-oriented marketing campaigns has allowed the aforementioned brands to grow in popularity. Take, for instance, Bananain’s recent collab with Chinese actor Wang Yibo, which gained over 700 million views on Weibo.


Take it from us: Not merely confined to the internet, the sun protection clothing trend can also be spotted on the streets of China. So it looks as if the aesthetic is here to stay all summer.


Cover image designed by Zhuohan Shao

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