By Peng Xunwen
Guochao – a fashion trend translated as “China-chic” has swept through Chinese consumers, especially the younger ones, as they are gaining more confidence in “made in China” products.
The trend is seen in many aspects today, including music, art, construction, furniture, costumes, food and other everyday commodities.
According to a May report issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, around 90 percent of Chinese consumers were optimistic about the future development of Chinese products.
A survey released by McKinsey & Company also indicated that Chinese enterprises are making huge efforts to upgrade the quality, performance and value of their products, and Chinese brands are a choice for nearly 1/3 of the consumers when they select high-end products.
Wei Jing, who works in media, is an enthusiast of Hanfu, the traditional clothing of the Han ethnic group. She’s also a planner of a Hanfu gala, a renowned online show among Hanfu enthusiasts worldwide aired during every Chinese New Year. So far, the gala has been staged for 12 years.
In 2010, when Hanfu was still unfamiliar to many people, a group of Hanfu lovers decided to host a big gala themed on the traditional Chinese costume to celebrate the Chinese New Year with people who share the same passion all over the world. The gala received over 300,000 online views this year.
The costume, which has developed from a niche item to a widely accepted matter, mirrors the ongoing trend of Guochao, a vogue that combines traditional Chinese cultures and modern lifestyles.
Both time-honored and new brands in China are digging into the traditional Chinese culture to make new creations, such as oil-paper umbrellas manufactured with ancient and modern techniques, fans developed with intangible cultural heritage skills, and 3D curved mobile phone covers made from ceramic that takes dozens of procedures and over 100 hours to build.
Besides, the Seagull company, a time-honored Chinese watch manufacturer, has launched a product that features Hufu, or tiger tally, which was used as a proof of authorization in ancient China.
The trend of China-chic in consumption and cultural performance reflects an ongoing change of the Chinese in aesthetic and cultural appreciation, as well as a big improvement in their cultural confidence.
The lifestyles and consumption values of the younger generation accelerated the rise of Guochao. According to a recent report issued by xinhuanet.com, China’s Gen Z (people born from 1995 to 2009) has contributed 74 percent of the Guochao consumption. Statistics from an online shopping app also showed that in 2020, young consumers’ passion for Guochao products increased more than ten times compared to the previous year.
“The makeup is so cool that I look like a character in the mural.” Chen Chen, a selfie lover from a Beijing university, recently tried on a selfie app.
The app is equipped with an augmented reality (AR) makeup filter inspired by a mural in a cave of the Mogao Grottoes, a 1,600-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site in Dunhuang, northwest China’s Gansu province. Drawing inspiration from the colors in the mural, the filter injects profound cultural connotation into modern aesthetics.
To pursue creative transition and innovative development of the traditional Chinese culture with the help of modern technology is an important trend in the development of Guochao, said Jin Yuanpu, head of a research center for cultural and creative industries at Renmin University of China.
At present, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, AR, metaverse and other new technology concepts are seeping into the design, production, publicity and consumption of cultural products, he noted, suggesting that these technologies be well exploited to build new business models and make more innovations of Guochao.