Urbancore is an aesthetic based on the imagery of China’s intense urban scenery. Unlike the hiking/ camping/ high-performance outdoor activity-inspired mountaincore and gorpcore styles of 2022, this trend revolves around the lighter variety of urbanite undertakings such as getting to and from the office and casual hangouts—think picnics or sipping on a ginger-infused macchiato. Time for Temper to explore this newest tantrum in the world of China Fashion.
At its core, urbancore, also known as “urban outdoor” and “urban athletic,” has more and more young Chinese urbanites sporting outfits that fuse athletic and outdoor wardrobe elements. It all looks very comfy and cool. In that light, ‘twas on April 30, as part of Shanghai’s May 5 or Double Five Shopping Festival, that Chinese Instagram slash e-commerce platform 小红书 (xiǎohóngshū| Little Red Book) organized a bonafide Urbancore Sports Market in Shanghai to tap into this growing consumer demand.
In one corner of the market, top-notch Japanese camping brand Snow Peak presented a tent concept that encouraged people to get out of their homes and offices and work outdoors. American snowboarding brand BURTON also participated in the bazaar, with BURTON China’s marketing department director Guo Zhirong telling Chinese news portal Dongfang.com that the market’s “people-oriented” aspect was their main overlap with Little Red Book’s philosophy and their No.1 reason for participating. “The urbancore concept sees outdoor lifestyles seeping into daily life and that creates a sense of community,” Guo emphasized.
A rep for Little Red Book went on to tell the portal that in the past two years, with the explosion of camping, Ultimate Frisbee, cycling and other wholesome outdoorsy activities nationwide, outdoor sports continue to top the “what’s trendy and trending” charts. “But compared to rock climbing, hiking and adventurous, exotic outdoor pursuits, most people just tend to venture outside for a bike ride, a picnic in the park or a nighttime run–running late at night or 夜跑 (yè pǎo) in late spring and summer to avoid the scorching daylight temperatures has been hot in the Middle Kingdom in recent years. Suburban fishing, often seen along, for example, Beijing’s Liangma River in the capital’s largest district of Chaoyang, has also entered the mainstream—take this Beijing-based author’s word for it. “More and more young people posting on Little Red Book are bringing sports and outdoor projects into the cityscape,” the rep said. Dao Insights, a website publishing exclusive articles on and high-value case studies from the Middle Kingdom, has a great writeup on the market right here.
The bazaar’s hashtag on Little Red Book, namely, “urbancore运动市集” (urbancore yùndòng shìjí| Urbancore Sports Market) had 13+ million related posts as of May 14, with many voguish devotees sharing their stylistic concoctions on there. Hashtag “urbancore” (yes, interestingly enough the tag’s in plain English–food for thought perhaps) had 22+ million related posts on the platforms as of that same day.
But the question remains… Why is the urbancore style blowing up across Chinese megalopolises?
Seeking new adventures in the great outdoors became the thing to do in China in the past two/three years but really switched gears in 2022 as ubiquitous lockdowns and working-from-home stints held the nation in their grasp and inspired residents, usually urbanites, to venture outside for some fresh air as much as possible.
On a related fashionable level, a barrage of fishnet, hold the “tights,” and other gauzy concoctions, all-weather-proof outerwear that makes one blend in with their natural surroundings, and many more items that seemed to have been pulled straight from British adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls’ wardrobe, started selling like hot cakes nationwide. Mountaincore and gorpcore apparel were the top players in the field throughout 2022. So, before we continue, check out the link below to find out what these two were all about:
China’s 2022 in Looks: A Hike In Hashtags For Hardcore Styles
And even though city life in China for the past few months has once again moved into China Speed mode (read: go, go, GO), it seems residents aren’t willing to let go of their rediscovered love for taking a deep breath– even if only in fashionable form. The urbancore aesthetic is an active one, so a lot of the clothing is fashionable and breathable. It has metropolitan fashion mavens mixing and matching outdoor items with their daily staples to convey a sense of individuality that one can only describe as…
“People may be in the city, but their hearts are in the mountains.”
FYI: Overall urban laidback street styles originally went global in the 1990s, expanding from the Californian surfing and skating cultures to encompass elements of sportswear, hip hop, punk and Japanese street fashion. It continued to grow and evolve from there. And in the Roaring Twenties 2.0, Chinese urbanites, usually Gen Zs, are surfing it with a twist.
Hooked on the Look
First things first: the urbancore basics. Staples include—but are not limited to:
baggy pants or sweatpants (sometimes highly decorated with different textiles);
brand-name oversized t-shirts/vintage brand-name t-shirts (vintage has been hot in urban China for several years now given these items have a more authentique feel to them);
sports bras/ racerback bras/ crop tops (for women);
brightly colored socks;
sneakers (could be a famous brand, could be a little local brand–given the latter in China are cheaper and usually offer more and more eye-popping options);
Now, sauntering through the streets of China’s megacities… Also popular in China’s current urbancore attire is techwear, or clothing that serves a functionality other than acting as, well, body covering. This may include waterproofing, UPF sun protection apparel or extra pockets. The main color palette consists of neutrals–gray, black and beige; sometimes contrasted with neon colors, depending on the wearer’s personal preferences. Techwear elements can include—but are not limited to:
Gore-tex fabric pants;
But how China’s aficionados have really lifted the urbancore look to the next level… is through their accessorizing powers. Those hooked on the look, for example, layer their outfits with fishing vests, top them off with fisherman hats, add sunglasses, big beat headphones and other stylistic gadgets and trinkets–which at times turns the urban sidewalks into the banks of the Liangma River (see pics above).
Of course, the suburban fishing inspo is just one very specific urbancore getup.
Popular video platforms like BiliBili, mainly targeting Gen Zs, and Douyin, China’s TikTok, offer entire tutorials for both men and women on how to style their urbancore look. As of May 14, the urbancore hastag (yep, in plain English once again) on Douyin featured 2.4 million short videos.
Popular brands catering to the new taste are Enshadower, known for its sun protection apparel, and Crying Center, known for its affordability and having a finger on the trending pulse. Then there are the multiple “generic” options served up on, for example, Taobao, aka Alibaba’s online shopping Walhalla. Behold this screenshot— urbancore pants starting from 88 RMB (ca. 13 USD):
But one brand in particular that keeps popping up when scouring the online realm on the lookout for more urbancore info and inspo is ROARINGWILD. This brand has been a forerunner, adhering to the life philosophy of street culture and encouraging young people to express their own opinions through the attitude of “ROAR.” The designers consider social issues from dialectical perspectives, with their clothing regarded as a carrier to create the life attitude that belongs to China’s younger generations.
And what these younger generations–again, millennials but especially Gen Zs– have apparently decided is to actively keep exploring life’s stories outside the four walls of their homes and/or offices. Not just in the great outdoors, but in the urban jungle as well.
From gorpcore to mountaincore and now urbancore, the ROAR of individuality is at the core of China’s youth culture.
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