Chinese Subcultures 2016

Aug 22, 2016 | Chinese Culture, Modern China

If you are familiar with words such as “yuppie” or “hipster”. Then you already know what subcultures are.

A subculture is a group of people within a larger culture that differentiates itself through distinct beliefs, values, styles of clothing, or choices of music. Add to the West’s various subcultures, there are a few Chinese subcultures too.

Popular subcultures such as “yuppie 雅痞 (yǎ pǐ)” and “hipster “潮人 (cháo rén)” have already been adopted by Chinese people. However, there are many Chinese subcultures that have yet to really materialize in the western world.

Today, we introduce you to five of the most interesting Chinese subcultures.


1. 小清新 xiǎo qīng xīn

Typically, 小清新(xiǎo qīng xīn) are young women who are artsy, graceful. And privileged enough to have refined tastes in food, travel, music, and lifestyle.

小清新 prefer clothes in whites and pastels, and give off a vibe of fresh, youthful energy. The words “清新” literally means “fresh,” and “小”means “little” – so a 小清新 is just like a little breath of fresh air.


2. 白富美 bái fù měi

The female equivalent of 高富帅 is 白富美 (bái fù měi), which describes the Chinese beauty standard for a girl to be pale, rich, and beautiful. The characters 白富美 literally break down to “white,” “rich,” and “beautiful.”

The famous Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing is well-known for being a fabulous 白富美. In fact, she was recently ranked 5th on the Forbes list of highest paid actresses in the world in 2016!fan bing bing

3. 高富帅 gāo fù shuài

When a Chinese girl is searching for her Prince Charming, what do you think are the top traits she’s searching for? A sense of humor and honesty/kindness all aside, if you guessed 高富帅 (gāo fù shuài), you are absolutely correct.

高富帅 (gāo fù shuài) is a term that originated on the internet referring to an ideal guy to date. It literally means “tall,” “rich,” and “handsome” — three highly desirable traits for men in modern Chinese society.

Most importantly, a 高富帅 should have refined manners and behave like a gentleman. Otherwise, he might just be a 土豪 (tǔ háo), one of the tacky nouveau riche that’s so often mocked in western media. This is a highly sought after Chinese subculture by both men and women alike.wallace huo gaofushuai

4. 杀马特 shā mǎ tè

Dark eyeliner, black clothes, and crazy spiked dyed red, yellow, and blue hair. You might get a little scared if you bumped into a group of 杀马特 after dark.

杀马特 is one of the most popular Chinese subcultures. They typically consist of rural transplants who only had a middle school education and ended up working in urban low paying jobs at hair salons, internet cafes or restaurants. They run in gangs, meet each other in “families” on the internet.

The 杀马特 style might remind you of the “emo” trend that was popular in the early 2000s, can you see a resemblance?

shā mǎ tè

Well there you have it, 5 of the most popular and interesting Chinese subcultures in China today, keep an eye out for them on the streets!




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