China Fashion Trend: Maillard Style Surges with +28,900% Uptick on Social Media

Shilin Song China Market Analysis

The “Maillard Style“: A culinary-inspired fashion sensation, this trend, reminiscent of the browning reaction observed in steaks, witnessed an astounding surge in August, seeing a +28,900% increase in mentions on Red/Xiaohongshu.

In this edition of our micro trend report, we delve into:

  • The Core of the Maillard Style: Understanding its essence.
  • Digital Footprint: Evaluating its prevalence across Chinese social platforms.
  • Consumer Pulse: Analyzing sentiments and apprehensions related to the trend.
  • Origin Story: Tracing back to where and how it began its meteoric rise.
  • Aesthetic Exploration: A detailed color and style assessment.
  • High Fashion Interplay: Its alignment with luxury and designer brands.
  • Versatile Applications: How the Maillard style is mirrored in clothing, makeup, hair color, footwear, accessories, handbags, and beyond.

The analysis is empowered by Doris, WalktheChat In-house A.I. Social Listening Tool.

“Maillard style” draws inspiration from the Maillard reaction, a sophisticated non-enzymatic browning process in culinary arts.

It captures the nuanced transformation of hues, akin to a steak transitioning from raw to cooked, creating a palette of rich and varied shades.

This style is characterized by a vast spectrum of brown tones, punctuated with strategic accents of vibrant orange-red. A palette evoking sophistication, it resonates deeply with those in the luxury and fashion sectors who appreciate the subtleties of color interplay.

Topics around “Maillard outfit,” distinguished by its layering of multifaceted brown hues and punctuated by bold orange accents, accounted for 40% of Top fashion keywords on Red during the month. This trend has captivated the sartorial sensibilities of Chinese fashion-savvy youth, marking a significant shift in the style narrative.

Furthermore, in contrast to the “Dopamine style” prevalent in the year’s first half, the “Maillard chic” offers a more complementary palette for Asians with yellow undertones. This nuanced color interplay enhances the skin’s appearance, imparting a luminous and refined texture, particularly resonating with this demographic.

The “Maillard style” is widely recognized for its adaptability and versatility, making it apt for many occasions, from work, leisure, dating, outdoor activities, and more. Its mastery in color layering and blending stands out as one of its prime attributes.

However, some critics have voiced concerns, suspecting that the trend’s popularity may have been artificially propelled for commercial objectives.

So, how did it rise to be a phenomenon?

The meteoric rise of the Maillard fashion concept from relative obscurity to widespread popularity is attributed to a strategic partnership between GQ Magazine and Douyin.

On August 6, 2023, these industry powerhouses collaborated for the “Douyin Fashion Trend Release” event. This wasn’t just any showcase; it was a Maillard-themed fashion spectacle.

By leveraging the influence and reach of prominent fashion figures and celebrities, the event witnessed a flood of short videos centered around the Maillard theme. To further the engagement, GQ Lab hosted Maillard-themed livestreams, ensuring that the style was imprinted on the minds of fashion enthusiasts everywhere.

The Maillard trend took off when more influencers and brands jumped on board with Douyin’s official Maillard fashion events. Soon, this trend wasn’t just big on Douyin.

Celebrities and fashion influencers started posting their Maillard styles on other platforms, especially Red. This made the trend even more popular across Chinese social media.

Recognizing the immense traction, numerous fashion labels swiftly unveiled their own Maillard-themed collections. In a span of merely ten days, from August 16th to August 25th, over 400 brands rallied behind the Maillard initiative. This wave of enthusiasm led to staggering sales worth 300 million RMB on Douyin alone.

Maillard is a unique shade within the brown palette, which is distinct from traditional earthy tones. While earthy colors are inspired by nature and often have green undertones, Maillard channels the hues of steak with a tilt toward reds.

Its harmony with Asian skin tones further amplifies its popularity and appeal.

Prominent global luxury and designer brands are making waves in the Maillard-style dialogue. Luxury brands such as Hermès, MaxMara, Miu Miu, and Saint Laurent, as well as designer brands like Tory Burch, The Row, MSGM, etc, have made significant inroads by curating timeless collections that embrace this aesthetic.

The Maillard style, merging “old money” and “quiet luxury” cues, encapsulates a retro and sophisticated representation of urban women. Esteemed designers like Hermès have historically gravitated toward earthy palettes to craft subtle, elegant pieces.

Today’s affluent Chinese consumers are eschewing overt, large logos that turn wearers into “walking billboards.” Instead, they’re gravitating towards a garment’s timeless and versatile appeal. The Maillard style’s alignment with the ethos of “quiet luxury” has been pivotal in its swift ascent in popularity.

The adaptable Maillard color palette has seamlessly permeated various facets of fashion, spanning clothing, hair dye, makeup, handbags, accessories, and beyond.

Either cowboy boots, sneakers, or canvas shoes, shades of brown are frequently chosen to complement Maillard-inspired ensembles.

To elevate the Maillard ensemble, incorporating golden accessories imparts a touch of refinement. Jewelry, be it necklaces, rings, earrings, or even embellishments on hats in harmonizing golden hues, enriches the outfit, adding layers of sophistication and depth.

Bags crafted from leather and suede epitomize subdued elegance.

Typically devoid of excessive adornments, Maillard-inspired bags lean heavily on the innate beauty of leather and suede. Paired with coordinating attire, they elevate the overall aesthetic, lending a rich texture to the ensemble.


In recent times, the Maillard style has emerged as a defining force in the fashion realm, drawing its unique inspiration from the browning reaction observed in steak.

This singular fashion narrative skyrocketed to prominence, dominating August’s social media discourse and accounting for an impressive 40% of top fashion keywords on Red. While the style is lauded for its versatility and adaptability, it hasn’t been without its detractors, some of whom view its ascent as artificially manufactured.

A key appeal of the Maillard palette is its innate harmony with Asian skin tones, casting a flattering hue. This allure has not gone unnoticed by global luxury and designer brands, who have ventured into this domain with iconic brown-shaded outfits, further fueling conversations around this trend.

The Maillard style, in essence, amalgamates hints of “old money” sophistication with the subtlety of “quiet luxury,” crafting an image of retro urban elegance. Its versatility is evident in its expansive reach across various fashion domains, from clothing, handbags, accessories, and shoeswear, to hair dye and makeup.

As it continues to define and shape fashion narratives, the Maillard style underscores a fusion of timeless design with contemporary sensibilities.

WalktheChat is an AI-powered China Marketing Agency supercharged with an industry-leading AIGC and tech team.

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