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    Bye Barbie, hello Dune: China’s key fashion trends for 2024

    Here are the online fashion trends sweeping Chinese social media in 2024, inspired by nature, casualwear, pop culture, and nostalgia.
    Image: Xiaohongshu
      Published   in Fashion

    In 2024, colors are taking on new significance. Instead of the vibrant rainbows and earthy browns seen in last year’s “dopamine dressing” and “Maillard trends,” Chinese netizens are gravitating towards natural shades that heal weary souls. Forest greens and sunset gradients are especially popular, reflecting the increased time Chinese youth are spending outdoors.

    “As spring transitions to summer, the different shades of green show an extraordinary exuberance of life. Summer itself is a healing process,” writes one Xiaohongshu user.

    At the same time, global pop culture continues to shape China’s microtrends. Although “Barbiecore” is so 2023, TV shows and movies like Blossoms Shanghai, Dune 2, and The Devil Wears Prada are inspiring bold, sexier outfit choices and empowering individuals to break free from the monotony of daily life.

    Here’s a look at the hottest styles of the year so far — and what they say about Gen Z’s mindset.

    Plant-themed wear (植物系穿搭)#

    Chinese Gen Z are not only spending more time in nature but dressing like nature, too. Image: Xiaohongshu
    Chinese Gen Z are not only spending more time in nature but dressing like nature, too. Image: Xiaohongshu

    This spring, Chinese fashionistas are taking styling tips from Mother Earth. This plant-themed aesthetic features earth tones like green and beige, natural fabrics like cotton and linen, and floral and fruity motifs. If dopamine dressing is about sparking joy through saturated colors, then plant style is about helping wearers feel relaxed and revitalized.

    On Xiaohongshu, the hashtag “plant-based style” (植物系穿搭) has garnered over 147 million views, boosted by a campaign initiated by the platform in May. The fashion trend comes as Chinese netizens seek an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life, whether that’s by traveling to remote counties or taking a 20-minute break at the nearest park. With its soothing aesthetic and breathable fabrics, plant style has become another avenue for healing.

    Tyndall (丁达尔穿搭)#

    Tyndall style gets its name from the Tyndall effect. Image: Xiaohongshu
    Tyndall style gets its name from the Tyndall effect. Image: Xiaohongshu

    Another nature-themed trend, Tyndall, gets its name from the Tyndall effect, which describes the scattering of light by particles such as dust, water droplets, and smoke. This might sound technical, but the style itself is rather straightforward: imagine a gradient of the same color or adjacent colors, evoking the blues of daytime or the warm hues of sunset.

    While some color-driven trends can be quite playful and childlike, Tyndall exudes an elegant aura. As one Xiaohongshu user writes, “This dressing concept not only provides the ultimate visual enjoyment but also offers warmth and solace to the depths of the soul, allowing us to find our own tranquility and harmony in the colorful world of the Tyndall effect.”

    On the lifestyle platform, the hashtags “Tyndall dress” and “Tyndall effect” have 78 million views and 166 million views, respectively. Similar plant-themed wear, the Tyndall aesthetic captures the vitality of summer and spring but is not limited to shades of green.

    Mint mambo (薄荷曼波)#

    Mint Mambo evokes the vitality of spring. Image: Xiaohongshu
    Mint Mambo evokes the vitality of spring. Image: Xiaohongshu

    With over 257 million views on Xiaohongshu, green really is the color of the year. “Mint mambo,” named after the color mint and South America’s mambo dance style, aims to evoke a sense of tranquility amid the fast-paced modern life. This trend gained momentum when GQ China and Douyin collaborated for a mint mambo-themed photoshoot in February, featuring actresses Chai Biyun and Zhao Yuanyuan.

    As one Xiaohongshu user describes it, “​​When human beings gradually lose some control over their lives, the fashion industry aims to bring more comfort and healing to people through fashion trends.” Like Tyndall and the plant-themed aesthetic, mint mambo encourages office workers to break free from their daily routines and renew their passion for life through nature.

    Mob wife#

    The ‘mob wife’ aesthetic took off in China following the broadcast of Blossoms Shanghai. Image: Xiaohongshu
    The ‘mob wife’ aesthetic took off in China following the broadcast of Blossoms Shanghai. Image: Xiaohongshu

    Mob wife” is for the girls who want to be the main character. This retro mafia aesthetic is bold and confident, typically featuring 1980s-style animal prints, leather, fur coats, and pointed stilettos, accessorized with voluminous hair and long nails. While global Gen Zers take cues from shows like The Sopranos, Chinese youth draw inspiration from local references, including the 2023 hit TV series Blossoms Shanghai.

    “In the past few years, low-key and minimalist styles have been popular. With the awakening of female power, everyone is tired of the bland style and begins to seek a more gorgeous image to show the power of women,” says Xiaohongshu user Lisa (@Lisa艺术自然).

    Instead of relaxing and blending harmoniously with nature, mob wife demonstrates ambition and independence; some netizens even take offense to being called a “wife,” preferring to be called a “mob lady” instead. On Xiaohongshu, the hashtag “mobwife” has over 12 million reads.

    Girlcore (薄雾少女风)#

    ‘Girlcore’ embraces traditionally feminine details such as bows and tulle. Image: Xiaohongshu
    ‘Girlcore’ embraces traditionally feminine details such as bows and tulle. Image: Xiaohongshu

    Hyper-feminine fashion is in full swing this spring: envision blouses, lace dresses, Mary Janes, and bows, usually in whites, baby blues, and pinks. Romantic and whimsical brands like Shushu/Tong, Simone Rocha, and Sandy Liang encapsulate this trend.

    But girliness isn’t one-dimensional. “Whether it’s cute, elegant, sexy, cool, or casual, all can be expressed through girlcore. Its strength lies in acknowledging and promoting femininity, showcasing the romance of girlhood like a morning mist, hazy and full of boundless imagination,” writes Xiaohongshu user Liangyu’s Trend Book (@凉予的TrendBook).

    Although the hashtag “girlcore” only has 2.4 million views, “bowties” has 978 million views and “girly outfit” (少女感穿搭) has a whopping 2.2 billion views.

    Grandpacore (复古爷爷风)#

    ‘Grandpacore’ embodies a retro eccentricity. Image: Xiaohongshu
    ‘Grandpacore’ embodies a retro eccentricity. Image: Xiaohongshu

    In sharp contrast to girlcore, “grandpacore” lies on the opposite side of the fashion spectrum. The elderly-inspired look comprises plaid or striped shirts, high-waisted trousers, loafers, and oversized jackets, perhaps layered with a knitted vest.

    The style, which was one of Pinterest’s 2024 predictions, blurs gender lines and promotes a timeless, sustainable style. On Xiaohongshu, the hashtag “grandpacore” (复古爷爷风) has amassed over 14 million views, combining China’s love for vintage (复古) and relaxed fits (松弛).

    Interestingly, it’s not just grandpa style that is going viral; it’s grandpas themselves. The 87-year-old KOL @Kangkang, for example, has accumulated an impressive following of 1.2 million on Xiaohongshu for his streetwear styling tips and charming personality.

    Office siren (职场海妖风)#

    The ‘office siren’ look is seldom seen in actual offices. Image: Xiaohongshu
    The ‘office siren’ look is seldom seen in actual offices. Image: Xiaohongshu

    Don’t be fooled by the name — office siren outfits are rarely worn in the office. Tired Chinese office workers prefer to dress up after hours, embracing sexy 1990s-style office wear, such as fitted blazers, pencil skirts, and chic glasses. The trend aligns with the global corp-core trend; from April 2023 to April 2024, searches for “corporate chic” and “geek chic” on Pinterest surged 950% and 870%, respectively.

    Inspired by Bella Hadid and films like The Devil Wears Prada, the trend could be seen as a romanticization of corporate culture, which, in China, tends to be smeared with complaints of overtime, poor management, and a lack of upward mobility.

    “It’s like a costume of how people who don’t work think about work,” posts one Xiaohongshu user, noting that many Gen Z workers are only just starting to experience office life. The hashtag “office siren” (职场海妖风) has over 36 million views on Xiaohongshu.

    Wasteland style (废土风)#

    The ‘wasteland’ aesthetic is inspired by dystopian movies like Dune. Image: Xiaohongshu
    The ‘wasteland’ aesthetic is inspired by dystopian movies like Dune. Image: Xiaohongshu

    What could fashion look like in a dystopian future? Dune 2 and Mad Max seem to have some ideas.

    A mix of grunge and “dirtycore,” “wasteland” style is an aesthetic that exudes a dangerous, unruly charm. Irregular tailoring, exposed stitching, faded and worn jeans, low-saturated colors, along with a hood or face covering, contribute to the dirty doomsday look, which brands like Balenciaga, Acne, and Diesel have captured well.

    On Xiaohongshu, the hashtag “wasteland style” (废土风) has amassed over 144 million views, praised for its “casual, shabby chic” vibe and sense of desolation and doom. The trend has also fueled niche travel, with the sandy dunes of Dunhuang and Inner Mongolia, along with the old city of Kashgar, Xinjiang, serving as perfect photo backdrops.


    • In 2024, Chinese fashion trends are heavily influenced by nature, with plant-themed wear and Tyndall styles gaining popularity.
    • Despite a shift towards natural aesthetics, global pop culture still significantly impacts Chinese fashion microtrends, inspiring bold, empowering outfits.
    • Although microtrends are transient, brands can speak to Chinese consumers’ desire to immerse themselves in nature by hosting outdoor activities and developing products with features that enhance outdoor experiences, such as UV protection.
    • To capture the girlcore trend, brands can partner with Chinese designers who specialize in hyper-feminine aesthetics, such as Shushu/Tong, to create exclusive collections.
    • With retro styles like grandpacore in fashion, brands can consider teaming up with China’s elderly fashion KOLs, but they should be mindful of the government’s crackdown on online displays of wealth.
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