Hanfu featuring Mid-Autumn elements star in festival as Gen Z embraces traditional culture, unleashes market potential
Gen Z embraces traditional culture, unleashes strong market potential
Published: Sep 12, 2022 09:33 PM
Hanfu lovers in Huaibei, East China's Anhui Province, take selfies. Photo: VCG

Hanfu lovers in Huaibei, East China's Anhui Province, take selfies. Photo: VCG

As Chinese people, especially the younger generation, are becoming more and more confident in the country's traditional culture, they are willing to reach into their pockets to buy China-chic products, a style that evokes classic Chinese designs. This new trend made this year's Mid-Autumn Festival particularly unique compared with previous years as Chinese traditional costume, Hanfu, and the festival delicacy mooncakes with traditional cultural elements sparked a holidays spending spree across the nation.

Order boost

Hanfu, a historic Chinese costume, is regaining popularity among young people, attracting over seven million fans. The online and offline sales of Hanfu both spiked during the Mid-Autumn Festival holidays, the Global Times found. 

An online vendor selling Hanfu through Chinese e-commerce site Taobao told the Global Times that orders started picking up a week before the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Saturday, with most orders coming from the younger generation.

"We have some particular styles of costumes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which include pictures of moons and rabbits, and these are the most popular styles as it matches with the festive theme," the vendor said.

Caoxian county in Heze, East China's Shandong Province, a major manufacturing hub for clothing sold on e-commerce platform Taobao following Yiwu in East China's Zhejiang Province, has over 2,000 Hanfu manufacturing companies which provide about 70 percent of Taobao's online sales for the item. 

Hu Chunqing, a staff from a Hanfu manufacturing company in Caoxian county, told the Global Times on Monday that demand for Hanfu saw a sharp surge in the days before the Mid-Autumn Festival. 

"The general sales of Hanfu over those few days increased by about 15 to 20 percent over normal periods," Hu said. He noted that the most popular Hanfu set is priced around 200 yuan ($28.87), with the most expensive set he sold being priced at 600 yuan. 

According to data analysis agency iiMedia Research, the Chinese Hanfu market has developed rapidly from 2015 to 2021, with the market size expected to reach 12.54 billion yuan in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 23.4 percent. 

Graphic: Tang Tengfei/GT

Graphic: Tang Tengfei/GT

'Best show stage'

A Beijing-based white-collar worker surnamed Xu told the Global Times on Monday that she had prepared different types of Hanfu to fit the festival vibe, and she believed that the Mid-Autumn Festival is the best show stage for Hanfu fans. 

Xu stated that she has met lots of new friends who had put on a Hanfu for the first time this year, and that the community of Hanfu lovers was getting bigger. "Me and my friends have come to an 'agreement' that we would wear the traditional costume and gather together when festivals come," said Xu.

Jiugongzi, the owner of a photography studio in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that they provide a whole set of services including Hanfu rental and photography, and had attracted lots of newcomers during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The overall guest volume during the holidays increased by about 50 percent over normal days, he noted. "Some primary schools told students to finish homework related to Chinese traditional culture, and because of this, lots of parents choose to take their children to our studio," Jiugongzi said, noting that it was a good way for children to learn ancient Chinese stories.

Jiugongzi's studio also prepared moon-related products for festival, such as the costumes of Chang'e, the goddess of the moon who appears in Chinese fairytales, which were popular among consumers. 

Mooncakes Photo: VCG

Mooncakes Photo: VCG

Refreshing classics

Hanfu was not the only item representing Chinese traditional culture. Sweet and salty mooncakes also featured prominently during the festival.  

Chinese e-commerce platform said that the sales of mooncakes prior to the Mid-Autumn Festival surged fourfold, serving a popular holidays gifts, Chinese news outlet reported on September 6. 

The report noted that the mooncake packaging using a unique Chinese style gained had proven popular among Generation Z, with sales volume growing fivefold.  

Amid a resurgence of interest and spending on Chinese traditional items, some were quick to highlight the need to protect the environment. Mooncakes wrapped with recycled bamboo was one of the top sellers during the holidays. 

In the past days, some Chinese people had been blindly worshiping foreign culture and fawning over foreign fashion. However, with the improvement of China's national strength and self-confidence, more and more people has begun to buy products which reflect their Chinese heritage.

In 2021, a survey conducted by the research center of the China Youth Daily shows that among 2,012 participants, 96 percent are willing to pay for China's chic design products.

The result also shows a preference by the younger generations, with generation Z making up the majority. Of all the participants, 32.4 percent were born in the 1990s and 22.1 percent in the 2000s. Also, based on data from Baidu collected in May 2021, the younger consumers have been paying more attention to Chinese brands, animations and technology designed in China. 

Observers said it is chic and it simply gives a sense of confidence because it symbolizes Chinese culture.