10 Fashion Trends in China: Where is the opportunity?

Shilin Song China Digital News

In the past year, all aspects of society have changed greatly: new cultures, aesthetic styles, and living standards are emerging. Nowadays, Chinese consumers pay more attention to the meaning and self-realization through each purchase. Gen-Zs yearn to express a unique attitude through what they wear.

Douyin (the Chinese Tiktok) eCommerce analyzed platform data and published the Top 10 lifestyle trends related to fashion, environmental protection, health, technology, and culture. The keywords are:

  • Outdoor fashion
  • Streetstyle fashion
  • Comfortable homewear
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Workplace fashion
  • Vintage style
  • Hip-pop fashion
  • Fitness fashion
  • Niche fashion: ACG, Lolita & Hanfu

In this article, we will further explain:

  • A few trends relevant for foreign brands in the Chinese market
  • The high potential for sub-categories in fashion industry

Outdoor fashion: the spiritual haven with high potential

Tired of fast-paced city life and strict lockdowns, going outdoors becomes Chinese people’s spiritual haven to disconnect and seek inner peace. For example, 42.2% of Douyin users yearn for outdoor activities, including fishing, camping, hiking, surfing, etc.

However, unlike the traditional western concept of camping, in China, camping is an exquisite and artistic way of living. Most young people picture camping as reading a book over a cup of coffee or tea, living in “an “Instagram style” tent, barbecuing for dinner, and chatting with a few friends over the night. Besides enjoying nature, they also want to take “photogenic” pictures so here comes camping fashion.

Trend pursuing young people love sharing their outdoor looks, equipment, and experience on social media. The typical looks are urban outdoor, utility, or casual wear. Besides, people also look for functional clothes such as waterproof, sunproof, elastic, and breathable clothing to make outdoor staying more comfortable.

China outdoor fashion Douyin trends
Outdoor fashion
source: Douyin eCommerce

Currently, 130 million Chinese people participate in outdoor activities such as hiking and traveling every year, according to China Outdoor Association (COA). In 2020, the revenue of outdoor products reached 169.33 billion CNY (~24.35 billion USD), with a year-on-year increase of 6.4%. It is estimated that the revenue will reach 240.96 billion CNY (~34.65 billion USD) in 2025.

According to Douyin, outdoor fashion is an active market where consumers have shown high interest. Besides, there is sufficient supply with existing category leaders. Therefore, brands entering the Chinese market need to deep dive into consumers’ needs and establish a solid positioning in their strong category.

Comfortable homewear: quality time spent alone

In China, there are 240 million single people of marriageable age; 1/4 of the households consist of only one person. The data means that entering a relationship or getting married is no longer a “must-do” for young Chinese people. Instead, they care more for a quality lifestyle while staying at home and enjoying time with themselves. 27.4% of Douyin users choose to spend their free time at home on weekends.

China homewear fashion Douyin trends
Homewear fashion
source: Douyin eCommerce

Deloitte’s 2021 Unconnected Economic Outlook Report estimates that the “stay at home” market in Asia-Pacific will grow from $1.2 trillion in 2019 to $3 trillion in 2025. In addition, as the work-from-home culture becomes popular, the demand for leisure homewear, fashion homewear, or even homewear with “business leisure” style has become a new fashion.

Sustainable fashion trends: rational and responsible purchase

Chinese people are willing to incorporate the concept of sustainability into fashion. For example, whether a fashion item can mix and match multiple items; whether the fabric is natural and reduceable, etc. As consumers become more rational and responsible, minimalistic and reusable fashion items could be the next growing trend.

Research data shows that 29.9% of users on Douyin pay continuous attention to environmental protection. Among these environmentalists, 83.8% agree with rational consumption, only buying products they really need and good quality; 58.0% prefer items that are more environmentally friendly during the production phase; 43.3% will purchase clothes and bags with a good design using sustainable or reducible fabrics. Therefore, growing public awareness of environmental protection makes sustainable fashion a new trend in apparel consumption.

China sustainable fashion Douyin trends
Sustainable fashion
source: Douyin eCommerce

Since 2021, embracing sustainability has become the consensus for women’s and men’s apparel industries. Brands incorporated low carbon production, using natural, harmless and recyclable fabrics.

Are Chinese consumers willing to pay an extra markup for sustainability? It will still take some time to see the market reaction. Sustainable fashion is still a niche market compared to the rest sub-categories. Brands in this category need to work with KOLs to generate content, and create topics and discussions.

Vintage fashion trends: 80s style, Y2K has come back

Chinese Gen-Zs love vintage style with a modern twist. For example, “Sweet Hot” Style, 80s Style, and Y2K are among the hottest trends. In recent years, Sweet Cool Girl styles have grown popularity thanks to various pop girl groups and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders).

China vintage fashion Douyin trends
Sweet Cool Girl Style
source: Douyin eCommerce

Sportswear fashion trends: health is the new luxury

The pandemic convinced everyone of the importance of health and regular workout. For example, the same research shows that 45.2% of Douyin users exercise to stay fit and healthy.

The choice of sportswear is also important. Among fitness lovers, 80.5% believe the most crucial feature of fitness clothing is comfortable, followed by quality/price ratio and functionality.

China sportswear Douyin eCommerce
Fitness fashion
source: Douyin eCommerce

Euromonitor data shows that the compound growth rate of sales in China’s sportswear industry from 2015 to 2020 is 14%, higher than that of other consumer goods sub-sectors. The overall sales of China’s fitness apparel market have reached 315 billion CNY (~45.28 billion USD) by 2020.

According to Douyin, Chinese consumers have shown great interest in short video content, but the eCommerce supply hasn’t fulfilled the demands. Now it’s a great opportunity for foreign fitness brands to explore this giant market.

Check out the fashion trends on Red (Xiaohongshu), the Chinese “equivalent” of Instagram:

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