What Happened: What started off on TikTok as a joke has now become one of the most popular fashion trends among Gen Z men. Known as bloke core, the style inspired by 1990s British pub culture has come to encapsulate stereotypical guy apparel: think retro soccer jerseys, straight-cut jeans, and scuffed sneakers. After a TikTok video by Brandon Huntley — which called bloke core the hottest trend of 2022 — went viral, the hashtag #blokecore has gained over 40 million views on the platform and 1.6 million views on Xiaohongshu.
This soccer-centric style has taken off globally thanks to the rise of comfort-forward clothing, celebrity endorsements, anticipation for the Fifa World Cup, and a slew of brand drops. Unsurprisingly, Adidas is one player fully embracing the movement, launching a vintage soccer collection with Wales Bonner that sold out earlier this summer and even posting a bloke core style guide on Xiaohongshu.
The Jing Take: Bloke core is just one of the few trends currently sweeping Chinese social media. Also on the radar: “cadre style” fashion (厅里厅气), a simple, yet chic civil servant look consisting of white button-up shirts or polos, dark blazers, and slacks. Though unassuming and seemingly old-fashioned, posts spotlighting the officer worker ensemble have garnered over 4.6 million views on Xiaohongshu, presenting an attractive image of job stability and status amid a youth unemployment crisis.
Another is “Yama style” (山系风格), an urban outdoor wear trend that took off in Japan around 2010, but is seeing a revival in China thanks to the surging interest in glamping and outdoor sports. A search on Xiaohongshu reveals a host of OOTDs featuring hiking shoes, bucket hats, and vests in earth tones that blend in with the natural environment.
These trends not only reflect shifting values and hobbies in the mainland — they also point to the increasing opportunities in men’s fashion. According to Xiaohongshu’s latest fashion insights report, posts related to men’s outfits have increased 91 percent in the last six months compared to the previous six months, with “high class fashion” and “clean look” among the most popular types of content for men. Like Adidas with bloke core, luxury names can benefit from Gen Z culture: formal menswear players like Zegna, Coach, and Burberry can be incorporated into the minimalist cadre closets, while outdoor apparel makers like The North Face and Arc’teryx can easily fit the Yama style.
That said, these fads will inevitably die. So rather than focusing on one craze, labels should prioritize building their relationships with the country’s male fashionistas — a booming consumer group that is clearly willing to play around with their wardrobe.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.