Where were you the summer of 2020? Well, instead of brunching with my friends or going to a theme park (which was on my bucket list, sigh), I was in my apartment, air conditioner blasting, with a popsicle, scrolling through TikTok and liking every single video of Chinese street fashion I could find.
Yes, I was one of those people who became obsessed with those Chinese street fashion TikToks. But I gotta admit, I’ve never really been a “fashion” person. I enjoy looking nice and shopping occasionally, but I also have no idea what the cool trends are or anything about the luxury fashion houses. And now that I’ve been sitting in my house for so long, my pajamas, my bathrobe, and workout clothes are my new go-to’s. So I’m not exactly sure what attracted me to these videos—maybe it was the vibes and attitudes of all the people featured in them, a sort of self-assured confidence to wear whatever you want that appealed to me the most. At any rate, I couldn’t stop watching them.
What are these videos you ask? Well, allow me to show you a few.
@marstruckI have a love-hate relationship w winter #chinesestreetfashion♬ Street Fashion Game – JVLES
@sh1ryinyinThe last group of guys tho👀 ##chinesestreetfashion ##fashionedit ##streetwear♬ original sound – Rell
@fashioneachdayAre you tired of these?😉#fitcheck #chinesestreetfashion #streetfashion #outfit #jiawei #chineseboy #style #asian #foryou #fyp #chinesetiktok♬ Street Fashion Game – JVLES
Basically, the gist of the videos is that they are slo-mo takes of really hot people in China walking around in impeccably styled outfits, all while the song “Such a Wh**e” remix by JVNA plays. (Warning, that song is explicit!). I’ve now heard the song so much I associate it completely with TikTok. If you watch enough of these videos, you’ll soon learn there seems to be a recurring cast of people—basically all of the same models and influencers. Some of the main accounts where you can find these videos are @marstruck, @eromei, and @sh1ryinyin.
So I did what any normal person does and did a bunch of research on how this trend got so popular and who these people are. Read on to find out my very important intel.
The 411 on Chinese Street Fashion Videos
First things first, most of the videos are filmed in Chengdu and Sanlitun in Beijing, two of the biggest fashion cities in the country. People that live in these cities might be a little more fashionable than most, but do most people walk around looking like supermodels all day long? Well, not really.
@eromeichina’s october 2020 fall looks! 🍁🍂🍁 ##fallinspo ##fallfashion ##chinesestreetwear ##streetwear ##fyp ##streetfashion ##breakupsong♬ Potential Breakup Song – Aly & AJ
The most important piece of information I gathered is that these videos are the work of certain photographers and not the models, like I thought. According to an interview that TikToker @sh1ryinyi gave to Buzzfeed, these videos are shared between these photographers and posted to Chinese websites like Douyin, which is the Chinese version of TikTok. From there, the videos are shared on TikTok, where they go viral and people like me watch them in amazement.
But despite the videos looking like these people have just gracefully stepped off a runway and are awaiting the paparazzi, the videos themselves aren’t as candid as you may think. Many of these influencers are paid by brands themselves to promote their clothing—kind of like a live version of Instagram. On Douyin, you can see where some of the brands are clearly tagged in the videos. These brands think that it’s a more relatable way of marketing their clothes, which totally makes sense. From there, the influencers partner up with a photographer, who shoots the videos, makes it look like it’s a typical day in China, it goes viral, and everyone wins.
@eromeitook me a while to push a compilation vid out but i guess quality > quantity excuse 😗😗😗 ##fyp ##chinesestreetwear ##chinesestreetfashion ##streetwear♬ Boys – Lizzo
The trend got so big over the summer that people all over the U.S. were recreating their own Chinese fashion-inspired videos, and even now, where the lifespan of a TikTok trend lasts a week at the most, the trend hasn’t died off. A quick search on TikTok reveals people are now posting winter outfit inspiration. Truly iconic.
I wonder if U.S. brands will start to take the same approach to marketing, and if so, how would that affect their sales? These are the things I think about when I’m bored at the house.
Have you seen any of these Chinese street fashion videos on TikTok before? Let me know what you think in the comments!