Streetwear in China: A Promising Market for Foreign Fashion Brands

Is your fashion brand ready to ride the wave of China’s electrifying streetwear scene? As the nation’s urban culture evolves at a breathtaking pace, opportunities abound for foreign brands seeking to make their mark in this dynamic and trendsetting market.

From the vibrant streets of Beijing and Shanghai to the underground subcultures that influence style choices, streetwear in China offers a tantalizing blend of tradition and innovation.

Join us on a journey into the heart of this thriving fashion subculture, where your brand’s potential knows no bounds. It’s time to explore the possibilities, connect with Chinese Gen Z and Millennials consumers, and write your brand’s chapter in the story of Chinese streetwear.

Street Fashion China

Streetwear Scene in China

Rapid Evolution and Expansion

Over the past decade, China has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its fashion landscape, with the streetwear scene emerging as a significant player. This rapid evolution is tied to the country’s economic growth, which has led to a burgeoning middle class eager to embrace urban-inspired fashion trends.

Chinese streetwear brands have successfully tapped into the cultural zeitgeist of the nation’s youth. They often incorporate elements from traditional Chinese culture, such as calligraphy, mythology, and symbolism, into their designs. This infusion of local culture resonates with the Chinese youth, creating a strong sense of identity and pride associated with domestic streetwear brands.

Domestic Streetwear Dominance

Unlike many other regions where international brands often dominate streetwear, China has carved out a niche with its own homegrown labels. These brands have garnered immense popularity due to their ability to infuse traditional Chinese culture into modern street fashion, thereby resonating deeply with the nation’s youth.

Domestic streetwear brands often offer products at more accessible price points compared to their international counterparts. This affordability factor makes them attractive to a wider consumer base, particularly among the younger generation who may not have the financial means to invest in high-end luxury streetwear.

Chinese streetwear brands have demonstrated their ability to innovate and adapt quickly to evolving fashion trends. They draw inspiration from various subcultures and global influences while infusing them with a unique Chinese twist. This combination of creativity and adaptability keeps their designs fresh and appealing.


Influencer-Led Revolution

Social media influencers and celebrities have played a pivotal role in propelling Chinese streetwear brands into the limelight. Platforms like Douyin (China’s TikTok equivalent) and Weibo have become powerful marketing channels. Chinese KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) frequently collaborate with these brands, effectively introducing them to millions of followers.

Their endorsements and collaborations generate immense attention and drive sales. This influencer culture has helped elevate local brands to international recognition.

Urban Hubs

Major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou have become epicenters of streetwear culture. Here, you’ll find a network of streetwear boutiques, pop-up shops, and events that cater to enthusiasts and curious shoppers alike. These cities pulsate with the energy of youth subcultures like hip-hop influence, skateboarding, and street dance.

Collaborations and Limited Drops

Collaboration fever is at an all-time high in China’s streetwear scene. Domestic brands frequently join forces with international labels, artists, and designers, resulting in exclusive and highly sought-after releases. Limited-edition drops create a sense of urgency and excitement among collectors.


Digital Marketplace

China’s robust e-commerce ecosystem and social media platforms have played a pivotal role in the success of domestic streetwear brands. These platforms enable brands to reach a massive online audience, driving sales and brand recognition both within and beyond China.

E-commerce platforms like Taobao and have democratized access to streetwear fashion brands in China. These platforms offer a vast array of streetwear products, making it easy for consumers to explore and purchase the latest trends. Additionally, a thriving resale market has emerged, catering to collectors and enthusiasts.

Global Streetwear Aspirations

Chinese streetwear is no longer confined within national borders. Chinese brands have begun making their mark on the global stage, participating in major fashion weeks and collaborating with renowned international brands. This outward expansion signifies the growing influence of Chinese streetwear.

Government Backing

Recognizing the economic potential of the fashion industry, the Chinese government has been supportive of domestic streetwear. Initiatives include funding for fashion startups, the development of infrastructure for streetwear events, and efforts to promote Chinese fashion globally.

Effective Strategies for Penetrating the Chinese Street Style Market

Tips for Chinese Street Style Market

Cultural Knowledge

Cultural immersion in the Chinese street-style market means deeply understanding China’s traditions, values, and social nuances. This involves recognizing the significance of cultural symbols, appreciating local etiquette, and staying attuned to contemporary culture influenced by global trends and digital platforms. It’s about fostering an authentic connection with Chinese consumers through a genuine appreciation of their culture.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Cross-cultural communication in the Chinese street-style market involves actively listening, adapting to cultural nuances, and building respectful relationships. It’s about understanding the impact of words, gestures, and body language, all of which play a crucial role in fostering trust and connecting with Chinese consumers.

Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is an essential tool for effectively navigating the intricate Chinese street style market. This approach hinges on recognizing both the commonalities and distinctions between Chinese and American cultures.

Identifying shared cultural aspects offers a foundation for building connections. By acknowledging mutual values and experiences, your brand can establish a sense of relatability with Chinese consumers. This connection forms the basis of trust and contributes to a positive brand perception.

Concurrently, embracing cultural differences is equally significant. It involves a deep understanding of the customs, traditions, and values that uniquely shape Chinese society. These nuances influence not only fashion preferences but also consumer behaviors and expectations. Being attuned to these distinctions is vital for avoiding cultural missteps and ensuring your brand’s messaging and products are culturally sensitive.


Collaborate Strategically

Strategic collaborations are crucial when entering the Chinese street-style market. These partnerships involve teaming up with individuals or entities who deeply understand Chinese culture and consumer preferences. This alignment ensures that your brand resonates with local tastes and values.

These collaborations come in various forms, such as working with local designers or fashion influencers. They bring an authentic touch to your brand and provide essential insights for product design and marketing strategies tailored to Chinese consumers.

Beyond cultural insights, strategic partnerships can leverage established networks and distribution channels, making it easier to enter the Chinese market and increase brand visibility.

Additionally, these collaborations can help customize your brand’s offerings to better suit Chinese consumers. For instance, they can guide decisions on color choices, design elements, and cultural symbols that appeal to the target audience.

Industry Insights

Networking means meeting and connecting with people in the industry. This could be other businesses, experts, or influencers. By talking to them and learning from their experiences, you can get valuable information about what works and what doesn’t in the Chinese street style market.

Market research involves studying the market. This means looking at trends, analyzing data, and understanding what consumers want. It’s like being a detective and figuring out what makes the market tick.

Both networking and market research help you understand the market better. They provide you with information that can guide your decisions and strategies. This way, you can make informed choices about how to approach the Chinese street style market.

Douyin KOL

Influence of KOLs

This sector is influenced a lot by relatively a few number KOLs (Key opinion leaders). The most popular are the rappers from these different shows. They often show up wearing distinctive and high-profile clothes. As Chinese people pay a lot of attention to their music and their shows, they are at the same time quite influenced by this new fashion. From that perspective, the show is incredibly significant to brands as it offers free marketing and promotion as well as product placement for their wares.

People even talk about “the Kris Wu effect” when speaking about this young fashion icon. He is one of China’s most celebrated singers and actors, and he also has a unique character. He is also one of the show’s four judges along with American-Taiwanese singer and songwriter Wilber Pan, the popular Chang Chen-Yue, and MC HotDog. Kris Wu’s massive popularity among female consumers has further aroused curiosity in the Supreme brand.

Some Chinese stars such as Edison Chen and Shawn Yue are also leading the trend. Edison Chen even has its own brand named CDC.

Digital Dominance

Digital dominance is a big deal in China, and it’s important to understand and use it effectively for your brand. Digital marketing means using the internet and social media to promote your brand and products. E-commerce is about selling things online.

In China, lots of people use the internet and social media every day. So, if you want to succeed in the Chinese street style market, you need to make good use of these tools. You can advertise your brand on social media and online platforms, and you can sell your products on websites or apps.

To do this well, you need to adapt your strategies. Think of it like speaking a different language. In this case, it’s the language of the internet and online shopping. You need to understand how people in China use the internet and what they like to see online. Then, you can create marketing and selling strategies that fit their preferences.

Cross-Border E-commerce

Cross-border e-commerce is like a digital bridge that connects your brand with Chinese consumers online. It’s a way for people in China to easily buy your products from their computers or phones.

Imagine it as a virtual store that’s open 24/7, where customers in China can browse and purchase your items with just a few clicks. It’s convenient and accessible.

To make this happen, you use specific online platforms or websites that specialize in helping foreign brands reach Chinese customers. These platforms take care of things like payments and shipping, making it easier for you to sell to Chinese consumers.

By using cross-border e-commerce, you’re essentially bringing your store to the digital doorstep of Chinese customers. It’s a way to expand your reach and offer your products to a wider audience in China without the need for a physical presence.

E-commerce fashion

Social Commerce Savvy

Being social commerce savvy means understanding a new way of shopping in China. It’s like turning your social media into a store. People in China use social media platforms to buy things, and your brand can be a part of that.

Imagine scrolling through your favorite social media app and seeing something you like. With social commerce, you can click on it and buy it right there, without leaving the app. It’s like shopping and chatting with friends at the same time.

To be social commerce savvy, you need to change how you market your brand. Instead of just using traditional ads, you can use social media to showcase your products and make it easy for people to buy them with a few taps.

Social media platforms, like WeChat and Weibo, are like big shopping malls in China. They’re where people hang out, chat, and shop. So, if your brand is on these platforms, you have a better chance of reaching customers where they already are.

Douyin fashion

Social Media Integration

Social media integration means making popular social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo a seamless part of your brand’s online presence. It’s like inviting these platforms to your digital home, and it can really boost your brand’s popularity and visibility in the Chinese market.

Imagine you’re hosting a big event, and you want everyone to know about it. You’d use social media to spread the word because that’s where everyone hangs out. It’s the same with your brand. If you’re on platforms like WeChat and Weibo, you can reach a lot of people and get them interested in what you offer.

But it’s not just about having a presence; it’s about using these platforms effectively. You can post updates, share content, and interact with customers. It’s like having a two-way conversation with your audience. This engagement helps build a loyal following.

Wechat Fashion

Success Stories

CLOT: A Fusion of Cultures

Founded by Hong Kong-based designer Edison Chen and Kevin Poon, CLOT is known for its unique fusion of Eastern and Western streetwear influences. Through strategic collaborations with brands like Nike and Converse, CLOT has gained recognition not only in China but also on the global street fashion stage.

Li-Ning: Building a Global Presence

Li-Ning is one of China’s most iconic sports and streetwear brands. Founded by former Olympic gymnast Li Ning, the brand has successfully blended Chinese heritage with modern design. Li-Ning has not only gained immense popularity in China but has also expanded its reach globally. It’s been featured at prestigious fashion events, including Paris Fashion Week, showcasing the brand’s international appeal.

NEIWAI: Redefining Streetwear for Women

NEIWAI is a Chinese streetwear brand focused on women’s fashion. It has gained attention for challenging traditional beauty standards and promoting body positivity through its designs. By embracing inclusivity and launching creative marketing campaigns, NEIWAI has resonated with Chinese consumers and expanded its presence in the competitive fashion market.

Heron Preston: Embracing Chinese Elements

American designer Heron Preston has made a significant impact in China by incorporating Chinese elements into his streetwear collections. His collaborations with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and partnerships with popular Chinese celebrities have propelled his brand’s popularity in the Chinese market.

Li Yuchun (Chris Lee): Style Icon

Chinese singer and actress Li Yuchun, also known as Chris Lee, has become a style icon in China. Her unique fashion choices, which often include streetwear-inspired looks, have influenced trends and inspired a new generation of fashion-conscious Chinese youth. Li Yuchun’s collaborations with brands like Givenchy and Coach have further solidified her status in the fashion world.

These success stories illustrate the diverse and dynamic nature of the street fashion scene in China. They demonstrate that both local and international brands and individuals can thrive by tapping into the unique cultural blend and rapidly evolving tastes of Chinese consumers.

Need a Smart Marketing Agency in China?

In China, everything is Digital and mobile. You need to have proper communication to reach your audience and sell your products. We are a Smart Digital Agency in China, already have a lot of experience, and can help you.

Coming to China with a known brand makes things easier, but in Chinese, it’s more difficult because of the three default languages, and different dialects, making the brand famous is not an easy task. To be able to diffuse your brand in China is a key to success, but also a difficult challenge.

You can think of selling your products online in China, most Apparel items are bought online. it is different from the West, Tmall, JD, Taobao, WeChat Stores, or are the platforms your brand needs to be on.


We have developed many successful e-commerce projects because we know how to effectively promote your e-commerce business in China by using the latest digital tools.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a specialist in digital marketing in China. We have a branding and advertising team that knows well the latest trends in China and its market. Do not hesitate to contact us for further discussion, if you have a project in China or if you want to know more about us.


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