Top Guide for Fashion Trends in China in 2023

From cleanfit to effortless comfort, the latest fashion trends of 2023 are reshaping the Chinese market. An ever-changing market, which influences the global stage and the local stage. The fashion trends in China in 2023 are at the center of consumers’ preferences, marketing campaigns, and attractive incentives.

This is a complete guide for CEOs, Marketing Managers, Product Managers, and Business Developers about the fashion trends in China in 2023.

Let’s dive right in.

What Are the Major Fashion Trends in China for 2023?

Some trends are inherited from the past years and taking a new spurt in 2023 such as Guochao and Genderless. For some other fashion trends, they are born in 2023, bringing with them a new sense of identification and personal expression.

Let’s get started.

1. Guochao

The Guochao (国潮) literally means “national wave”. This societal trend is driving the fashion trend with a growing appetite for traditional Chinese elements such as embroidery, colors, prints, patterns, designs, and symbols.

This trend is driven by the Chinese Gen Z. The young generation is less blinded by the idea that “the quality necessarily comes from foreign countries”. The older generations grew up at a time when China was counting 0 brands. The younger generations are raised by a country pushing its own brands in several industries, including fashion like Icicle (with a store in Boulevard Saint-Honoré in Paris) and Li-Ning.

In my latest interview for The China Project, I stated that “the quality [of Chinese products] is the same now, so Western brands are having to clarify their unique selling point (USP) beyond this more than ever before”. And I think this is the main challenge Western fashion brands are facing now: the core competition is not made of other Western brands, but of high-quality Chinese brands.

2. Sustainable

In 2023, it’s almost a mistake to say that Chinese consumers are not interested in sustainability. Of course, not every consumer shows interest in sustainable fashion but a growing part is.

In an interview with Jing Daily, we explored how the traditional way of marketing sustainable fashion doesn’t sell in China. The Chinese consumer is not choosing between beauty and eco-friendliness. He’s taking both, he’s building the best of both worlds. The Chinese fashion brand Icicle is taking up the challenge by proposing high-end apparel selection with eco-friendly material “made in Earth”.

3. Athleisure

The term Athleisure is a mix of “Athletic” and “Leisure” to describe a fashion item made for exercise and for everyday use. Both Chinese and Western brands jumped on that trend. Sportswear brands for sure, but also fashion brands that launched a dedicated line of athleisure items to suit the current needs and preferences of Chinese consumers.

This trend also gave birth to sub-trends such as Activewear, Streetwear, Sportswear,  and Gorpcore. A new way to dress, making sports items a fashionable outfit. You can go to work in a yoga outfit, you can do grocery shopping in an athletic outfit, and the list goes on.

You can read my LinkedIn newsletter dedicated to the activewear market in China here

4. Genderless

The men and women closets are mixing together, blurring the lines between genders. For a long time, the Chinese male consumer is much more open to wearing items that may be considered feminine in Europe and the USA such as diamond rings, shoulder bags, and fitted jackets.

The Chinese government is making efforts to “crackdown” on these men with a style they consider not to be virile enough. The fashion market is spread between these two considerations. Some men going towards this genderless style and some men trying a more “virile” style. But among this, the couple outfit trend is building the reunion.

In China, it’s very common to see girls and boys dressed the same. Of course, younger couples are more entitled to this trend. But don’t underestimate this fashion trend: couples of 30-35 and even 65+ years old are dressing alike. An interesting trend to monitor for your next communication campaign in China.

Read more in my newsletter “Fashion is Breaking Boundaries Between Male and Female in China” 

5. Smart Clothing

The year 2023 is driven by the metaverse including Artificial Intelligence, from ChatGPT to NFT. The Chinese fashion market didn’t evolve without the AI world but played with it. The current fashion apparel is including sensors and smart devices to enable Chinese consumers to use their clothes to monitor and improve their health.

Another extent to this trend is the development of fashion in gaming and adaptive clothing. Chinese netizens love video games and fashion brands are partnering more and more with video games to incorporate their latest collections. A new way to monetize fashion creations on WeChat, League of Legends, and Honor of Kings.

In the meantime, other creators used smart clothing to create adaptive clothing. A smart way to answer the needs of the 85 million people with disability in China. From Tmall who launched the One Shoe Project to Tommy Hilfiger who proposed an adaptive line, the fashion industry is proposing a new customized approach to fashion.

6. Retro & Blokecore

The retro trend is not a “vintage” trend as some articles could describe. It’s a trend linked to blokecore, retro, and soccer styles. This trend was driven by the World Cup in Qatar in December 2022 and pushed by celebrities such as Lisa and Jennie from Blackpink in early 2023. This style incorporates retro jerseys with boots, bucket hats, and headphones.

This trend shows the importance of celebrities, both Western and Chinese to drive a new trend in China. On Xiaohongshu, the topic “the trendy guide to wearing jerseys” increased by +100% during the World Cup. According to Jing Daily, the hashtags #球衣潮流攻略 and #blokecore have even respectively reached 12.6 million views and 6.8 million views.

7. Body Health

Chinese medicine is a long-term consideration in Chinese culture. It seems logical that body health is at the center of concerns, but 2023 is seeing body health occupying the center stage of the fashion industry. Apparel and clothing are not only a matter of aesthetics, but also a matter of health, protection, and self-improvement. The anti-UV items are among the top-selling references in China today. They include caps, hats, t-shirts, jackets, pants, masks, and umbrellas.

Another sub-trend that is noticed for the first time in China: body positivity.

While the local beauty standards are still towards being thin and white, communication tools display more Chinese men and women with more shapes. The cult of extreme thinness is starting to be outdated with new voices raising among the crowd.

8. Cleanfit

This trend is coming from the “clean girl aesthetic” on Xiaohongshu. In brief, the “clean girl” is someone who eats well (batch cooking, vegan, etc.), works out (pilates, yoga, running, etc.), and has a healthy beauty routine (bath, skincare, etc.). Hence, the “cleanfit” era in 2023 is directly inherited from this trend. The fashion outfit focuses on minimalist, logo-free, and well-cut basics.

The related hashtag #cleanfit reached 140 million views on Xiaohongshu. Chinese netizens are coming back to the good old basics, easy-matching, and elegant fashion items. And guess what? The cleanfit is the mother of the next trend, the “old money” style.

Discover our full guide on Xiaohongshu here

9. Old Money

This is a global fashion trend in 2023. No matter if it’s on Instagram or Xiaohongshu, you may have seen the “old money inspiration outfit” ending up on your feed. In brief, it’s a way to dress with timeless and elegant pieces like people coming from rich “old money” families. A new style, a new mood board, and a new pool of brands to pick from.

This fashion trend is mainly driven by influencers and celebrities in China. On social media apps, the content of both Chinese influencers and Western influencers is spreading. Hence, Chinese consumers are favoring fashion brands proposing timeless pieces with minimalist colors and elegant styles that could last over time.

10. Effortless Comfort & Clogcore

In the Chinese streets in 2023, the main style description is: comfort. Both men and women favor comfortable outfits in their daily life (which is highly explained by the trend number 3). Especially when it comes to shoes, Chinese consumers will favor sneakers, runners, and baskets over any other type of shoes. Retailers are progressively removing boots, sandals, and heels to focus on sneakers and runners.

The effortless comfort trend gave birth to a specific style called “clogcore”. When we talk about clog, we immediately think of Crocs. The brand managed to transform this “ugly shoe” into a fashion accessory. All the brands are releasing their own clogs to keep up on the trend and enable Chinese consumers to mix comfort and customization.

Read my latest LinkedIn newsletter dedicated to effortless comfort here

Structural Trends vs Current Fashion Trends in China

The fashion trends in China mentioned above are split into 2 categories in 2023: the structural trends and the current trends. Among the structural trends, we can find athleisure, sustainable, and guochao. Among the current trends, we can find the cleanfit, blokecore, and old money.

Another thing to monitor when you analyze the fashion trends in China is to know what is trending right now and for which consumer profiles.

Let’s go over it together.

What Fashion is Trending in China Today?

The main fashion style that is trending in China today is the cleanfit, activewear, blokecore, and clogcore. No matter the consumer’s age, gender, or profile, these styles are the most sought-after.

In our latest consumer interviews, we noticed sub-trends among lower-tier cities consumers and luxury consumers. Hence, these groups should be considered differently when targeted. The best way to know what is trending among your TA (Target Audience) is to identify your consumers’ profiles and handle qualitative research with a local partner. We recruited the participants, organized the interviews, and analyzed the results for several fashion and luxury brands.

Contact us if you are interested in consumers interviews and mystery shopping in China

What Are Gen Z Consumers Wearing?

The Chinese Gen Z is mainly wearing streetwear style, blokecore style, effortless comfort, and kawaii accessories. In 2023, there is one figure you must know, think of, and consider in your marketing: Duffy from Disney.

Even for the top luxury clients, it’s very common to customize a luxury bag with a Duffy stuffed toy accessory. Among the main characters, the pink fox LinaBell is the most commonly seen in the streets. Whether at home or on their fashion outfit, Chinese consumers are incorporating these cute figures on all their designs.

Examples of Brands Getting the Fashion Trends Right in China in 2023

A few brands managed to understand and incorporate these trends in their marketing campaigns. Hence, Western fashion brands met immediate success in China. Let’s see 3 examples.

Tommy Hilfiger

The adaptive line of Tommy Hilfiger is answering the current trend of smart clothing for convenience.

In mainland China, over 85 million people have a disability. All industries, including the fashion industry, are adapting with easy-to-put apparel with one hand or without. Also, they include additional functions for users’ daily activities and adaptive medical devices.

This initiative was followed by the Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall from Alibaba.

Tmall launched the ‘One Shoe Project’ to unlock the possibility for handicapped people to purchase one shoe instead of a pair. The Chinese digital ecosystem is also adapting to this need by proposing new features on social media and on e-commerce platforms.

Lululemon

In 2023, Lululemon is the star brand in China.

The reason behind their success? A great understanding of the athleisure trend and mix of body positivity and identity. When we organized consumer interviews with Lululemon’s consumers, they talked about the products… but also the brand. How the brand is making them feel? How the brand is changing their life? Lululemon managed to build a community around them.

In this event, Lululemon played well on the athleisure trend. The brand showed how their latest collection Align can be worn anywhere, anytime, by anyone with his/her own style. Amber Liu, the celebrity with a K-Pop style, Cacien, the celebrity with a hip-hop style, and Cici Wang, the celebrity with a pink ballet dancer style came together to show their unique style in Lululemon outfits.

This fun and sweaty gathering gathered 800 people in Chengdu.

Crocs

This is the trendy shoe on all Chinese feet in 2023.

Among the fashion trends in China in 2023, Crocs didn’t get inspiration from a trend but created a trend. They are the founders of the “Clogcore” trend. How? By turning this ugly shoe into a comfortable, customized, and trendy shoe worn by all celebrities. From Justin Bieber to Yang Mi, the holey shoe has become a trendy accessory.

Another reason behind its success, it’s the direct link with other Chinese fashion trends. Crocs is also leveraging the customization and the effortless comfort trends to thrive. Among all the most comfortable shoes, Chinese netizens pick Crocs. On the other side, the Gen Z uses Crocs to assert their identity and their unicity.

According to Jing Daily, on Xiaohongshu the hashtag “holey shoes” has reached 260 million views, the hashtag “Crocs” 150 million views and the hashtag “DIY holey shoes” 100 million times.

Conclusion

That’s it for the fashion trends in China in 2023. This a comprehensive guide to help you understand how all trends are not separate trends but interact, mix, and grow with each other.

How will you leverage these trends in your next action in China? By having a social media campaign with related hashtags on Xiaohongshu or Bilibili. By implementing some advertising with adaptive banners on WeChat or CTrip. Or by having a feature in a press article or an influencer account.

In any case, you are not alone and Reverse can support your market research or marketing implementation. And if you liked this article or want to add anything, let me know by leaving a quick comment below! 🙂

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