China’s Substitute for Knowledge; Hysterical Fashion Consumerism

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China’s Substitute for Knowledge; Hysterical Fashion Consumerism

Uniqlo has gone viral again in China, with crazed customers rushing into shops, fighting for new T-shirt crossover KAWS. On shelf, online, for just 1 day, the canvas bags were all sold out on Taobao, while the T-shirts go for double the price on other, unofficial shopping platforms.

As widely covered by local media, on release day, Chinese consumers waited in lines for its opening, jostled through the doors to rush in and grab any T-shirts, regardless of their size or patterns. Sprinting as if running a short-distance race, they even ignore phones dropping to the floor. Two consumers fought together for one last T-shirt. Some even took the clothes off dummies. Liao Xinzhong, a Taiwanese writer, observed that the scene resembled a “zombie invading city”.

In fact, neither did some people know what KAWS was when they bought it, nor were they necessarily big fans of Uniqlo. Online celebrity, Answer82405, shot a video about spotting people fighting for KWAS T-shirts in Uniqlo. From young people to middle-aged women, they all came and grabbed a basketful of shirts, even though they were told one can only buy a maximum of two products.

Consumerism in China has been taken advantage of by luxury companies to create panic among shoppers and to garner more attention. The reason why people purchase stuff is not that they really need it or like it, but because “my idol wears it”, or “some fashion blogger recommended it”, said Answer82405.

Today’s youngsters are more aware of self-expression and fashion is seen as the easiest way to show one’s charisma. Many believe it is getting out of hand. Last year, HYPEBEAST, a fashion media, made a video about the development of Chinese fashion culture and the essence of the fashion business. 

Himm Wonn, the manager of DOE, a Shanghai fashion outlet, has observed, “Nowadays, many people try to prove themselves or express themselves in the name of street culture. Though, fashion culture in China [is] ‘sic’, because most business people choose to make money out of it, instead of really building up a good brand. In fact, what we lack is not material or money; what we lack is the accumulation of knowledge”.

It was the same case in early March this year, when the Cats’ Paw cup from Starbucks was insanely priced at ¥888 each, or more, on Taobao. The cup was promoted on Tictok and Weibo to first convince elegant office ladies that they needed such a status symbol.

Uniqlo wisely cooperating with KAWS this time exactly meets the need of Chinese consumers. ¥99 for a luxury logo? Worth it! Yet, their choices are made by what they are told, no longer by personal deliberation.

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Kristen Wang
A Nanjing local, Kristen studied Media and Public relations in Newcastle University (UK), has researched social media and online publishing and previously worked for different new media platforms. She is passionate about discovering new stories and helping expats involved in this city. 南京人Kristen毕业于纽卡斯尔大学,媒体与公共关系硕士学位。她的研究专注于社交媒体和网络发行,在不同的新媒体平台工作。她喜欢发现新鲜事,也希望帮助在南京的外国人融入这里的生活。