China has seen a rise in guochao. QIANTU
If you look around your city, you might spot girls wearing hanfu in subways or people wearing T-shirts with Chinese characters on the streets. A new trend is taking hold in China – guochao, or “China-chic”.
According to a recently published report, searches related to guochao on Dianping, a lifestyle information platform, have risen by 170 percent from the same period last year, and reviews have risen by nearly 40 percent. China-chic is happening, but what is it?
The term characterizes the rise of China’s native fashion trends. It has expanded the concept of “Made in China”, which has been recognized as the representation of Chinese culture and aesthetics offered by homegrown Chinese brands, according to CGTN.
China-chic came into the spotlight in 2018. Before that, big-name foreign companies dominated the world market. To win market share, many Chinese brands followed in the footsteps of these Western brands. But that year, Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning changed things up. During the 2018 New York Fashion Week, Li-Ning introduced its Taoism-inspired Wu Dao collection. The collection not only had a trendy look, but also included elements of traditional Chinese culture. It immediately grabbed attention at home and abroad. As a result, the company recorded 20 percent revenue growth in 2018, marking the first time the brand’s revenue had hit the 10-billion-yuan mark since its founding.
The trend to embrace domestic brands has since spread rapidly to various sectors and products, from food and drinks to clothing, mobile phones and electric vehicles. For example，White Rabbit, whose sweet candy brings back childhood memories for many, launched its perfume and lip balm. “We want White Rabbit to be a brand that young people want to share,” Shen Qinfeng, the company’s marketing manager, told People’s Daily.
Now, the guochao trend is “moving to the next stage, where its success will rely, first and foremost, on gaining cultural confidence rather than Western validation”, according to Kerra Zhou, founder of brand strategy consultancy Kerrisma.
This March, several Western brands boycotted Xinjiang cotton over “forced labor” allegations. To show national pride and cultural confidence, the “I support Xinjiang cotton” campaign spread across the country. Many Chinese boycotted these Western brands and turned to Chinese domestic brands that support Xinjiang cotton, like Li-Ning and Anta.
No matter how the guochao trend evolves, there’s one thing that won’t change: Behind the craze is people’s positive attitude toward the country’s development and their recognition of and growing confidence in national culture, said Yao Linqing, a professor in the School of Economics and Management at Communication University of China.