As we approach the gates of 2021, the Temper Fact Checker presents the 5W flashcards of the most titillating and savory terms sauntering through the China Fashion scene in 2020. 5W, you ask? “What, Who, When, Where, Why,” we say. To curtsy or not to curtsy, that is the question.
In October, a Chinese article entitled “I Spent Two Weeks Lurking in the Shanghai Debutante Group” (我潜伏上海“名媛”群，做了半个月的名媛观察者) gave the OG notion of the word “debutante” a slight makeover. With its roots in European high society, the term “debutante” is based on the process of presenting a girl of marriageable age to a husband of the corresponding social class.
With the associated balls often proving the low point of high fashion, one may trust yours truly on that one. Either way…
This post about how a group of young women in Shanghai pretend to be wealthy “debutantes” went viral across Chinese social media on 12 October. The affiliated hashtag “Shanghai debutantes” (上海名媛群) receiving some 1.3 billion views on Weibo within 24 hours, according to Chinese state-owned publication Global Times.
Contrary to popular (outdated) belief when it comes to the Chinese love for labels, numerous netizens in fact criticized the next level material girl attitude of the women involved.
Nevertheless, the term did cause a wave splashing onto major Chinese platforms, from short-video platform Douyin and the video-sharing website Bilibili, both wasting no time in releasing customized debutante style guides that discuss how to look feminine and graceful. Without being tacky.
According to Jing Daily, your go-to for everything that is the business of luxury in China, the “debutante” accolade was subsequently adopted by label-loving Chinese Gen Zs (those born between 1995 an 2012) looking to master the art of mixing understated minimalism with upper-class logo-love.
According to fashion KOLs, these women consider singer/ actress Shuxin Yu and singer/ actress/ dancer Jingyi Ju as the epitomes of this uptown girl version. It’s all about the make-under instead of -over.
Serving as guides to the aforementioned debutante guides, a whole lotta overkill guidance out there indeed, KOLs across Chinese social media point out that these two particular Gen Z celebs successfully and graciously achieve this “upstairs, downstairs” style because their wardrobes’ quality already reflects the labels. Without being showy.
We at Temper still prefer trash-ique to très chique, though.
According to the earlier mentioned October write-up, some women indulge in the group-buying and -sharing branded items, from bags to hotel rooms. To tights. All for the purpose of posting pictures of these communal treasures on their social media accounts.
Most of the group members appear to be super wealthy, OG lurker “Li Zhonger” wrote, as their social media accounts are brimming with “fancy photos of them posing in Michelin restaurants, luxury hotel stays and fast cars.”
However, Li later found that these women actually paid much less money than he thought by sharing the items and splitting the bill.
Six people shared a 500RMB luxury afternoon tea for two, nom nom nom, four people shared a pair of 600RMB second-hand branded stockings, yummy yum yum, and 60 people shared a day’s rental of a Ferrari costing 6k RMB. Mmm.
Well, walk a mile in someone else’s socks.
Circling back to the he debutante style guides, then, their hottest items on display, such as Chanel-inspired jackets and Givenchy dresses, gave birth to lookalikes trending across e-commerce platforms like Taobao and JD.com.
Yet the guidelines received most of their positive feedback on the tips for achieving “high-class fashion” on a low budget.
Go for quality, not quantity, as the age-old mantra goes.
Writer and career blogger Geng Xiangshun told Global Times that these young women in the Shanghai Deb group pretend to be rich not only to “satisfy their vanity, but also to get into the upper echelons of society and meet some [actual] wealthy people. They regard it as an opportunity to look for a rich boyfriend or a better job.”
Pre-cray Kanye in 2005 wrote a song about this type of female… Mmm, what’s that title again?
When all is said and one, the 2020 popularity of Yu and Ju’s positive alternative to the “debutante style” does prove that China’s Gen Z VIPs are still important in reaching young markets across China. These kids know exactly what they want; and triflin’, their taste is not, my friend.
Temper says, “You bow to no one.”