People in China are embracing quiet luxury.
Some Chinese influencers have spent the summer curating tutorials on the old money aesthetic.
Online retail platforms are also offering stealth wealth looks for cheap.
People in China have figured out how to nail the old money aesthetic without breaking the bank.
The old money aesthetic, which involves projecting wealth subtly, has taken China by storm. Known in the country as laoqianfeng, this fashion style is inspired by the country’s old money — people whose wealth has stacked up over multiple generations and who let their cash, not their clothes, do the talking for them.
Laoqianfeng is about all portraying an air of effortless perfection by eschewing the garish colors, big logos, and general flashiness of the new money aesthetic.
Alison Ho, a Singapore-based strategist at the trend forecaster Worth Global Style Network, told Insider that such consumers “are less concerned with material wealth” and are instead hoping to “align luxury with wellbeing, purpose, and meaning.”
China’s influencers have cracked the code of looking rich
China’s social media is abound with commentary and tips on nailing the laoqianfeng style. At press time, posts with the hashtag “老钱” (laoqian) have been viewed a collective 1.67 million times on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo.
Multiple laoqianfeng explainers have mushroomed up this summer on Xiaohongshu, an Instagram-like platform in China. Xiaohongshu, or “little red book” in English, is a popular site the functions as a lifestyle bible for the modern Chinese person.
Ho told Insider the social media platform “popularized aesthetic micro-trends associated with quiet luxury.” She added that Xiaohongshu is predominantly used by affluent consumers in Beijing, Shanghai, and China’s other tier-one cities — the country’s economic hubs.
Some influencers have documented their purchases on Xiaohongshu, going over each individual purchase and explaining how each buy helps the consumer exude old money vibes.
Others have uploaded comprehensive montages of the various outfits they have assembled, as well as reviews of clothes from brands they consider to be representative of the trend.
Ho told Insider that the pursuit of quiet luxury is a “way for shoppers to explore and convey who they are as individuals.”
“For quiet luxury, this means shoppers who embrace sophisticated, thoughtful, and quality apparel that convey luxury and wealth in an understated way,” she added.
You don’t have to go broke to look classy
But if you think you need to actually be rich to look rich, think again. Ease of access to China’s fast fashion platforms means anyone can be a budget version of “laoqian.”
Insider’s search of the Chinese e-commerce site Taobao surfaced hundreds of shop listings touting items in the vein of the old money aesthetic, some of which can be purchased for under $20 before shipping.
Take this pair of monochromatic dresses. Each dress is currently on sale at 88 yuan, or about $12.
And it’s not just price. Most buyers said they were satisfied with the quality of these products.
“This is excellent and has a really classy feel. I really liked it,” a buyer said on the product listing’s page.
“The suit exceeded my expectations. It is of high quality, and the workmanship is well-made. I’m very satisfied,” a buyer wrote in their review of the women’s suit.
In China, looking rich is as close as people can get to being rich
Elisa Harca, the Hong Kong-based CEO of marketing firm Red Ant Asia, told Insider that it’s no surprise that quiet luxury is becoming a trend that fast fashion brands are going all-in on.
But the people who jump on the stealth wealth bandwagon can’t truly achieve quiet luxury just by hunting for pieces that resemble those produced by luxury brands, per Harca. This is because emulating the “look” isn’t the same as investing in timeless pieces made with high-quality materials, she added.
“Luxury is always first and foremost about craftsmanship and quality, you cannot get it cheap,” Harca said.
That said, being prosperous in China — be it “laoqian” or “xinqian,” the Chinese terms for old and new money respectively — is an impossible goal for most broke millennials. For most Chinese youths, imitating the old money aesthetic is the closest they are going to get to being wealthy.
A slowing Chinese economy and a soaring youth unemployment rate mean that millennials in China just don’t have the spending power to live large. These grim circumstances have also driven some youths to just give up and eschew the hustle life in favor of “lying flat.” Some have even taken it a step further by just “letting it rot,” actively choosing to decay and waste their potential.
But the truth is, you don’t have to be wealthy to imitate stealth wealth. This is China, the land of Shein and Taobao, the country’s answer to Amazon. And the nation’s 1.4 billion people have figured out all the hacks they need.
Read the original article on Insider