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China's top 2023 Halloween looks - Charts of the week
And the cultural and consumer trends they reveal
As Halloween continues to captivate audiences around the world, its celebration in China has emerged as a fascinating blend of cultural exchange. In recent years, the festival has transcended its Western origins and taken on a unique character as Chinese consumers embrace the tradition with a mix of local tastes and trends. The adoption of Halloween festivities in China goes beyond mere merriment; it reflects evolving consumer behaviors and serves as a microcosm of broader cultural dynamics within the country.
Especially in Shanghai, young people in various costumes have taken to the streets in areas like Julu Road in downtown Shanghai to celebrate Halloween in the past few nights. Photos and videos from the event have flooded Chinese social media, capturing the attention of netizens. Many have praised Shanghai's multiculturalism and emphasized that this is a unique opportunity for young people to relieve pressure.
In today's bonus "Charts of the Week" series post, we highlight some of the most popular costumes that have gone viral on Chinese social platforms. These costumes provide a glimpse into the consumer and cultural trends they represent. Enjoy the ride!
China's stock market woes
Someone dressed up as the Shanghai Composite Index (SHA: 000001), which has remained pessimistic at the bottom, and is holding a bunch of leeks next to it. In Chinese, "cutting leeks" is a derogatory term used to describe someone or an institution obtaining other people's wealth through improper means or engaging in opportunistic buying and selling. In the financial field, it can also refer to manipulating the market or stock prices for personal gain. What a reflection of the recent pessimistic sentiments in China's onshore capital market!
"打工人 Employee's" work-life balance
The term "打工人" or "employee" has become a trend among Chinese young people. It is sometimes used in a self-deprecating way to describe the challenges of achieving work-life balance.
"Meme festival" - the influence of internet celebrities and TikTok
People no longer dress up as the traditional ghosts and zombies of the past. Instead, they use their imagination to mimic various roles that are "scarier than ghosts". This trend not only showcases creativity but also incorporates popular internet memes, transforming Halloween into a "Meme Festival". On the streets, we can observe many young people imitating internet celebrities and even famous stars. This demonstrates the influence of celebrities on the younger generation and highlights the advancements of the internet era.
Young Chinese people are also using Halloween as an opportunity to mock e-commerce broadcasters in TikTok live rooms. These broadcasters, on the one hand, make money from consumers, but on the other hand, despise and look down on them. On the streets, we see people teasing these celebrities who have average business abilities but can obtain a large amount of resources.
One person dressed up as Li Jiaqi, China's most influential beauty influencer with over 170 million followers. Li Jiaqi recently held a livestream where he sold Huaxizi eyebrow pencils for 79 yuan, which sparked controversy when a netizen commented on the rising prices. In response, Li Jiaqi defended the price, stating, "It's not expensive at all. It has been this price for many years... Sometimes, look for your own reasons. Have you worked diligently all these years? Have your wages increased?" Unfortunately, this defensive response resulted in a loss of 1.1 million followers.
国潮 Guochao: Blending Chinese traditions into the new fashion trend
The term "国潮" translates to "Guochao" in English, directly taken from its pinyin romanization. "Guochao" refers to the contemporary trend in China where traditional Chinese cultural elements are reimagined and incorporated into modern fashion, design, and consumer products.
In the past, every year when Halloween came, there would always be a lot of opposing voices on the internet, saying for instance, "What's so great about a foreign holiday? Cultural invasion is too serious. Nowadays, young people only know Western festivals and have forgotten their own traditional festivals!”
However, this year in Shanghai, young Chinese are incorporating the Chinese culture into Halloween, altering the traditional Halloween customs that originated from the West.
"电商人 e-commerce professional" getting ready for the 11.11 shopping festival, the biggest annual sale event
As the e-commerce landscape in China becomes increasingly competitive, young Chinese professionals working in the e-commerce and internet industries are facing greater demands in their work.
Two young Chinese individuals are dressed up as e-commerce professionals. The person on the left is dressed as a monk holding a lotus flower, an image that became popular on China's internet. This image represents a sense of "佛系" or "Buddha-like" in English. It is used to describe a laid-back, detached attitude towards life. It suggests a person who embraces a calm and contented approach, not overly focused on worldly success or stress.
The lady on the right is dressed up as a tired and sleep-deprived employee. She is holding a laptop with a sticker that says "决战11.11" (Battle on 11.11), symbolizing the intense work and preparation for the annual shopping festival in China.
"Shanghai Halloween night, young people healed everyone" - an article on Huxiu, a Chinese business-focused new media, stated this in a recent article.
Just like some netizens are saying, Halloween has become a way for young Chinese to showcase themselves and escape the trivialities of the day:
A group of extremely tired people, heading straight for a crystal clear night scene where they are bound to wake up. Knowing very well they can't see those shining crystal shoes, but also wanting to dress up like princes and princesses. Why? To escape the trivialities of the day, the relentless pursuit that repeats every week, even if it's just for a moment, a moment is good enough... On this day, all imperfections become just right. [上海万圣节是啥？ ... - @Bearhow的微博 - 微博 (weibo.com)]
Shanghai's recent Halloween celebrations, dubbed as the "Night of a Thousand Memes," showcased a unique cultural phenomenon. People dressed up in various creative costumes, creating an exceptionally vibrant and diverse experience. Many of these creative individuals were everyday people, like programmers and architecture students, who found a release from their usual roles, showcasing a hidden side of themselves.
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