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Expressing Personal Identity in China

November 2012

By Noch Noch Li, Beijing

Chanel handbags, Gucci and Birkin bags flooded young women’s arms in Beijing three years ago. Fake or not, young people were mesmerized by the power branded products bestowed. Logos gave them confidence and established their identities. I attribute this to a lack of emotional maturity and inadequate self-awareness. Emphasis was on making money and outward success.

However, China's Generation Y, or "after 80s,” is in search for more meaning. Educated and steeped in technology, they want a purpose instead of just putting bread on the table.

The brands people are interested in these days instead are NLGX, Hi Panda and Simon Gao. Young people also like to mix and match, leaving head-to-toe logoed gear in the past. I’ve seen people wear an inexpensive scarf they bought in the market, or online, with more expensive pieces of clothing-- or sports shoes, such as Adidas and Nike. Some wear pants with panda ears sticking out as pockets, ignoring potential jeers and stares so long as they are comfortable in their clothes.

China’s Generation Y seeks to establish their own image and independence and to be known for who they are-- not what they wear. Style is no longer a show for money, but a show for taste as young people mature emotionally, look within themselves and understand who they are inside.

Regardless of how they dress, this generation is addicted to shaking their smartphones and talking into the phone (instead of on the phone), with their heads bowed down whilst crossing the street. WeChat is an instant-messaging app (accumulating and adding to all the usual social media functions as photos and QR code scans, and more) developed by the Tencent Group. Instead of having an immediate conversation on the phone, young people record voice messages for their friends. When bored, give the smartphone a little shake to see if anyone else is within their geographical vicinity. Depending on their profile, one can decide to send a nearby chatter a Bottle Message. The app is particularly efficient when scanning a bar during a night out.

Fashion & Style

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