What is the ‘Metallic Girl’ fashion trend in China?

    The new trend, which incorporates metallic and shiny elements into wardrobes, helped brands like Guerlain and Mac boost sales this Singles’ Day.
    Chinese actress and singer Zhu Zhu sports the Metallic Girl look, a trend that was manufactured by Douyin E-commerce to generate original content and boost traffic.
Photo: Vogue's Xiaohongshu account
      Published   in Fashion

    What happened

    Metallic Girl (五金女孩) refers to women who adopt a metallic aesthetic, and in less than three weeks, this trend has garnered 2.2 billion views on Douyin and 22 million views on Xiaohongshu. It has also claimed the top spot in eight Douyin hot topic rankings so far.

    Incorporating elements such as patent leather, glitter, sequins, glossy satin, golden eyeshadows, or anything with a metallic or shiny quality — Metallic Girl brings a touch of brightness to the normally dull and muted fall wardrobe, aiming to elevate both the outfit and the wearer’s mood.

    The phrase was coined during a joint campaign by Douyin E-commerce and Vogue China, launched in late October, defining Metallic Girl as the new fashion trend for fall/winter 2023. Following the release, numerous celebrities and fashion KOLs quickly embraced the trend, creating their own videos to showcase their interpretations of how to dress like a Metallic Girl.

    The "Metallic Girl" hashtag has 22.5 million views on Xiaohongshu. Photo: Xiaohongshu
    The "Metallic Girl" hashtag has 22.5 million views on Xiaohongshu. Photo: Xiaohongshu

    The Jing Take

    Metallics are having a moment this year, both in China and on the global stage, as seen in Gucci’s 2024 Spring/Fall collection and Miu Miu’s embroidered silk and wool panties.

    What makes China’s Metallic Girl fashion trend distinctive is its origin; it’s not an organic phenomenon, but rather a trend manufactured by Douyin E-commerce to generate original content and attract more traffic to its platform.

    Following the release of the Metallic Girl campaign, leading Douyin clothing creator Qiu Yingying (@邱莹莹, 2 million followers) participated in the trend and gained over 24,000 followers over one month. She later achieved a gross merchandise value of over 12 million RMB (1.9 million) in a single Metallic Girl-themed livestream session.

    The Metallic Girl trend has also helped brands with marketing this Single’s Day. Brands like Chow Tai Fook, China Gold, Guerlain, Mac, as well as clothing brands like Teenie Weenie and Gloria, have all used this tag to boost brand awareness and sales during the shopping festival.

    But skeptics of the trend have emerged, as well: One Douyin user commented, “Whether it’s ‘Dopamine Dressing,’ ‘Maillard Dressing’ [which uses brown as its main color palette], or ‘Metallic Girl,’ all are just marketing tactics with different packaging, with the goal of triggering a herd mentality. In reality, those who blindly follow trends are no longer fashionable.”

    Conversely, many of those who support this trend, see it as encouraging self-expression and defying conventional styles. State media outlet People’s JoyWorks (人民文娱), for example, praised Metallic Girl for being a China-helmed trend — saying that it “breaks the Western monopoly on fashion discourse and frees people from the aesthetic hierarchy dominated by ‘supermodels’ and ‘trendsetters.’”

    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.

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