Why Chinese Women Are Embracing 'Chillax'

    #Chillax is becoming an ideal life attitude for China’s younger generations, giving rise to the effortless fashion trend.
     #Chillax is becoming an ideal life attitude for China’s younger generations, giving rise to the effortless fashion trend. Photo: Lily
    Huiyan Chen and Jing ZhangAuthor
      Published   in Consumer

    What happened

    People are in the mood to chill. And with the stressors of the last few years, and continuing pandemic lockdowns in China, who can blame them? A new trend and expression is going viral on social media: 松弛感, pronounced "Song Chi Gan" which roughly translates to “chillax” or "sense of ease". The related hashtag has gained more than around 35 million views on Xiaohongshu and 18 million views on Weibo with some young girls sharing their effortless outfit-of-the-day, dominated by low saturated monochromes, neutrals and loose fits. Other popular trends such as the French chic style or even aspects of athleisure are often associated with this term.

    Xiaohongshu users share their styling tips for #chillax. Photo: Xiaohongshu
    Xiaohongshu users share their styling tips for #chillax. Photo: Xiaohongshu

    Unlike “let it rot ”摆烂 or “lying flat” 躺平 which have sprung up over the past year in response to hustle culture, chillax or sense of ease has actually been around for years. The recent virality of the concept stems from the experience of Weibo blogger @黑猫白袜子. She described ease as what she felt when she saw a family who couldn’t check in their luggage because their child’s papers were expired react in a calm and unhurried manner. The incident quickly struck a chord with local audiences as these stressful family situations can often be tense and anxiety inducing.

    Although sense of ease initially referred to the family environment, it has come to be more broadly used, now describing a comfortable and chill state of mind, not anxious, tense, or hard-pressed. People chillax as they let nature take its course, and are even ready to accept the worst case scenario and move on. Chillaxing has come to be summed up as "accepting everything as it happens," both the good and the bad.

    The Jing Take

    Given the many stressors of life — from work and family pressures to unforeseen circumstances — it's no wonder why sense of ease has become an ideal attitude and style for today's younger generations. That said, there are dissenting voices. Some people hold the view that whilst there is nothing wrong with chillaxing, it is inappropriate to blindly promote this sense of ease to belittle someone who is living a hard life.

    Actresses Tang Wei and Shu Qi are considered representatives of chillaxing. Their laidback vibe has impressed fans deeply, leading people to imitate their styles. It is found that people with a sense of ease dress in an effortless way instead of trying hard to attract attention. To some extent, this can also be translated to the quiet consumption of luxury goods, a behavior typically associated with old money rather than the newly rich. Luxury brands like Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli are the best choices for this effortless style. Chinese womenswear brand Lily is another, recently releasing a campaign that emphasizes effortless office fashion for its 20th anniversary.

    Although it is possible for anyone to chillax, it is believed that the key to becoming easygoing is inner peace. And many Chinese youth online are saying that if material living conditions are not good, it is hard to be comfortable with who you are. And once a lifestyle is associated with social hierarchy, outward signifier's such as fashion and style become ways of expressing this.

    Chinese womenswear brand promotes easy-to-wear fashion with actress Victoria Song. Photo: Lily
    Chinese womenswear brand promotes easy-to-wear fashion with actress Victoria Song. Photo: Lily

    Since becoming an imitable style, the term has become less meaningful. Ultimately, what chillaxing represents is being true to oneself and mental wellness. Posturing for a sense of ease is opposite to having a sense of ease. So for brands hoping to leverage this trend, it’s less about doing and more about being.

    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.

    • "Song Chi Gan," meaning chillax or sense of ease, is becoming a popular mindset and style among Chinese youth, emphasizing comfort, loose fits, and neutral colors in fashion as a reaction to ongoing stress and pandemic lockdowns.
    • The term signifies a relaxed state of mind and an acceptance of circumstances, contrasting with the hustle culture's intensity and resonating with those seeking calm and simplicity in their lives.
    • While celebrities like Tang Wei and Shu Qi exemplify this laid-back vibe, luxury brands such as Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli align with the chillax trend, offering products that embody effortless elegance.
    • Despite its popularity, there's debate over the authenticity of adopting a chillax lifestyle, with some arguing it's a privilege rooted in financial security and social status rather than a universally accessible mindset.
    • For brands, capitalizing on the chillax trend requires promoting genuine mental wellness and authenticity, rather than merely adopting the aesthetic superficially, to resonate with consumers seeking true ease and self-acceptance.
    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.