Chinese Street Fashion: Avant-Garde Style Hits the Streets and Tiktok

Tiktok trends have become a part of life since the start of the pandemic. One week, your feed will be spammed with people dancing to “Blinding Lights,” and the next week, it’s videos of people showing off their hardcore makeup skills.

Over the past few months, however, there’s a new trend focused on a certain type of street style, specifically Chinese street fashion. This recent Tiktok trend sees girls and guys flexing their slightly avant-garde street fashion while they make masks look like accessories instead of health care protocols.

chinese fashion

Chinese street fashion Tiktoks are like any fashion videos on the platform. These are slow-motion clips of fashionable individuals walking down the streets of Beijing in impossibly cool outfits. Often accompanied by Blackpink’s hit “How You Like That,” the short videos feature flaunting off fashionable streetwear looks from big brands like Vetements, Supreme, Misby and Balenciaga — a far cry from the traditional work-from-home PJs almost everyone wears right now.

The premise of the videos is simple: you have regular people wearing fancy clothes who (almost) always stare directly into the camera, almost as if they know we’re watching them rock their outfits. This recent trend is so amusing, it got the attention of millions of social media users.

So what is it about Chinese street fashion that makes it so popular on Tiktok? And how can you rock the same looks even though you don’t live in China?

What is the China Street Fashion Trend on Tiktok?

These street fashion videos originated from Douyin, which is China’s version of Tiktok. The short clips are often filmed within areas in Beijing’s Sanlintun, Shanghai’s Xintiandi and Taikoo Lin in Shengdu, aka the popular nightlife and fashion districts in each city. Currently, #ChineseStreetFashion is one of the top trends on Douyin, with users posting their version of the trend or ripping off more videos from others.

Common factors involved in these videos are “clueless” fashionable subjects strutting their style in the streets and a camera coincidentally filming them. There are so many questions surrounding the nature of these videos: are the subjects actually regular people or Chinese models? Who is shooting these videos? Is it an orchestrated photoshoot or is everything a coincidence?

In a report, media company Buzzfeed explained that these Chinese street fashion videos are sourced from different Douyin videographers. They tend to stay in China’s fashion districts and capture their fashionable subjects there.

Buzzfeed also reports that many of the people featured in the videos are Chinese models and influencers who are in on the action. Before the shoot, they know where to find the videographers and photographers; hence, their perfected “Oh I didn’t see you there” look.

And to answer the final question: yes, these videos are coordinated stunts for China’s fashion industry.

Brands use these Chinese street fashion videos as a subtle yet more relatable way of advertising clothes. In certain videos, Douyin users tag or link fashion brands. In case viewers tap on the link, they’ll end up on the brand’s website.

Why is the Chinese Street Fashion Trend So Popular?

Even if these videos are staged, the results are still captivating. In fact, it has inspired many TikTok creators to film their version of China’s Tiktok fashion trend. Tiktokers Nava Rose and Jeffrey Dang, both Asian street fashion brand enthusiasts, recreated the Chinese street-style trend on their accounts. Both creators were inspired by the confident energy exuded by these Chinese models, as well as the versatility of each look.

For most people following this trend, watching these videos of the Chinese’s take on fashion made them re-think their style, which is refreshing in a COVID-19 world filled with pajamas and boxers. Western fashion fans and models are taking a page out of the Chinese street fashion bible, stepping up their game by taking fashion risks. Thanks to China’s fashion trend, people of the Internet now think spiky leg harnesses, oversized Gothic clothes and bell-bottom pants are the new IN thing in fashion.

The best part: this fashion trend makes wearing masks look cool!

Simply put, the Chinese street fashion trend showcases a side of fashion most people aren’t used to seeing. China’s take on fashion is making everyone doubt their fashion choices. Who knew that you can wear a Barbie top and make it look high fashion? That’s what you call enjoying an authentic fashion style.

DIY Chinese Street Fashion Look Book: Everything You Need to Know About This Style

chinese fashion

If you’re inspired to pull off your personal take on the Chinese street fashion trend, you may be confused at first. After all, China’s take on street fashion doesn’t follow a specific type or trend — which is why it’s so popular. The fashion flexibility it offers makes it so attractive to a broader audience. Also, these Chinese fashion icons aren’t just taking inspiration from other trends; they own the look by incorporating fashion pieces that are unique to Chinese culture — from a regular dress to traditional Chinese clothing.

Another thing that makes Chinese street fashion special is how it mixes different styles and pieces to create a one-of-a-kind statement piece.

If you need more help, here is a breakdown of all the different style inspirations behind the most iconic Chinese street fashion looks.

Lolita/Pastel Goth

Goth is a fashion style and subculture developed in the UK during the 1980s. Goth fashion was inspired the Victorian era fashion, except with the smoky makeup and dark fashion. It was also inspired by the gothic rock genre of music, gothic horror films and literature.

Pastel goth is a light take on this fashion style. Rooted in Japan’s Harajuku street fashion scene, it essentially combines the dark styles of goth fashion with touches of cute and colorful. Think of it as “creepy cute.”

China’s street fashion brings this fashion back in different shades of pastel and makes it new by incorporating some traditional elements like the qipao (also known as “cheongsam”), which is a Manchu body-hugging dress with a high neck and a skirt slit.

E-Boy/E-Girl

The new generation is all about the e-boy and e-girl trend. This latest fashion craze combines different parts of the Internet clothing culture, such as skater, K-Pop and anime culture. E-boy and e-girl outfits often consist of layered sweaters, jackets and skirts with chunky Doc Martens boots and baggy pants. Common e-boy/e-girl accessories include metalwork and all types of chains. Tiktok e-girls are known for their thigh-high knee socks, school-girl skater skirts and the Mary Jane school girl shoes.

In terms of makeup, e-girls and e-boys make themselves look younger by adding exaggerated notes of blush on their nose and cheeks. They also dye their hair in eccentric colors to resemble their favorite K-Pop stars like Kim Taehyung or Min Yoongi or anime characters, like Armin from “Attack on Titan.”

Full e-boys and e-girls tend to be a persona limited to the Internet space. But the Chinese models of street fashion beg to differ as they bring the e-girl/e-boy look to the streets, which makes them very eye-catching.

Hip-Hop

Another classic fashion look integrated into the Chinese street fashion style is hip-hop fashion. This music movement from the Bronx isn’t just a genre; it influences how people wore their clothes. Hip hop artists expressed themselves through their bucket hats, oversized clothes, sportswear, denim dungarees, casual sneakers and chains. Hip-hop fashion culture also included the tight-fit tops and baggy pants combination straight from ’90s R&B.

Traditional Chinese

China fashion has always stood out for its colors, silhouettes and unique style. It is also the most unique to the country and not inspired by other influences. The most notable fashion style, the Hanfu, made its comeback in 2019. The younger Chinese models incorporated the Hanfu fashion into their attires by wearing traditional garbs out in the streets. Most Hanfu-era dresses today are made with the traditional silhouette but with a modern touch. Unlike the old Hanfu attire, the newer version doesn’t have as many layers and includes mesh fabric and appliqué patterns to show some skin.

These traditional outfits are subtle nods to China’s historical clothing with more color and experimental pieces. The modern qipaos are also functional enough for wear with fascinating moderations like lace fur, sleeves and high leg slits.

A Different Kind of Cat Walk?

The growth of the Chinese street fashion scene is an exciting one, especially in the middle of a pandemic. With everyone stuck at home in their PJs, it’s nice to watch other people dress up exaggeratedly and confidently walk in the streets. Plus, it gives everyone ideas on what they should what they can wear once everything returns to normal.

If it doesn’t inspire you to overhaul your closet, it entertains you, at least. The flaunting of trends, brands and styles in these short clips is so catchy, that you’ll feel you’re in the same circle as these Chinese models.

Chinese street fashion gives us hope for the future, in terms of clothing and style. Once we can ditch the PJs and the boxers, we can roam the streets — in the same way the Chinese do.

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