A new trend is spreading in the PRC. Gen-Zers are sharing their social media posts with grandparents, who now account for one-third of the entire country’s spending. So that the fashion brand UOOYAA has hired silver models for its SS19 collection
Today, Chinese Generation Z or Gen-Z is closer to the elders than ever. Although the two generations were raised quite differently, young Chinese are rediscovering tradition and they now share not only values but also fashion with their grandparents.
A graying population, combined with rising incomes and living standards, means an explosion in consumption by China’s elderly in the coming decades. And the Chinese fashion brand UOOYAA knows it well and it has thus added elder models to the crew, leveraging, but also allowing, its collection to reach that emerging promising “silver generation”.
© UOOYAA 2019SS. China’s fashion brand UOOYAA invited elderly Chinese to model for its SS19 collection at its debut at the London Fashion Week in February.
UOOYAA is a Shanghai-based creative fashion brand that is using design to express Chinese young people’s life attitude. Founded by the designer Yin Jianxia in 2014, the firm reflects society’s evolution through its collections, which are young, fun, and colorful.
With a team of almost 300 people, UOOYAA started as an online store on Tmall but it now owns 80 offline stores across China. In 2017, it also won the sales champion for Alibaba’s Single Day promotion among all womenswear brands.
Thanks to its creative marketing, UOOYAA has quickly become one of the leading cutting-edge brands in the Middle Kingdom and it manages to grasp market trends with a clear brand attitude and respect for the corporate values of “freedom, openness, and sharing.”
UOOYAA has been one of the first Chinese fashion company to invite elderly people to model for its SS19 collection during its debut at the London Fashion Week in February, proving that fashion has no age limit and that members of the oldest generation can also be trendy.
Before the Shanghai firm, in 2015, the 80-year-old Wang Deshun appeared bare-chested in a fashion show at China Fashion Week in Beijing, featuring designs by Hu Sheguang.
At 56 years old, UOOYAA’s Chinese model Ma Yinhong is one of a growing number of older models sought after by Chinese and international labels trying to court the country’s growing faction of “silver spenders”.
Indeed, never before have China’s elderly population had such a high interest in fashion and lifestyle. And while Chinese are growing older, this generation is gaining more and more importance, especially for what concerns sales.
A study by research firm OC&C Strategy Consultants revealed China’s Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2002 – accounts for 15% of their household’s spending. However, although the youngest netizens spend the most, the elderly population is about to exceed 255 million people by 2020.
Moreover, WeChat has revealed that its users between the ages of 55-70 grew from around 8 million to over 50 million during 2017, with over-60s using 80% of their cell data on WeChat as opposed to just 6.8% by the 18 to 35-year-old generation. Therefore, the Dragon’s major companies started to organize in order to attract this new audience.
With the emerging of this so-called “silver-economy”, Alibaba has begun hiring older consultants to improve its digital services for elderly people and other tech companies are launching startups entirely addressed to this generation. An example is the successful app Tangdou, which focuses on connecting middle-aged women who like to dance in public squares with other like-minded people.
© CGTN. Wang Deshun. The 80-year-old model and artist represents Chinese older fashionistas, reshaping China’s views on aging.
China’s Millennials and Gen-Zers grew in a quickly-developing and economically open country. They have access to the latest global trends via the internet and global travel. Nevertheless, their parents come from a time when the Dragon was still recovering from the Cultural Revolution. They still remember when they had to work hard to buy something, when buying fancy clothes was a luxury, literally.
Not to mention, their grandparents, born when the People’s Republic was just laying the foundation for the country it is now and belonging to the population that made China the factory of the world, before Deng Xiaoping’s opening reforms turned the country into the second world’s largest economy.
Because of these and other factors, the Celestial Empire now owns one of the greatest societal and generational gaps in the world.
Nevertheless, although young Chinese seem to be the only one allowed to feel free and light-hearted, this is starting to change. Thanks to the wide internet’s penetration, Millennials and Gen-Zers are not the only one free to buy all the products they desire, to travel where they want or to digitally connect to all their interests anymore.
Today, news and shopping help family members from different generations to connect digitally so much so that recent trends on Chinese social media networks are showing a growing desire from both children and parents to share more with each other, fostering family bonding.
“The elderly rely on their family’s opinion, and their social consumption demand is stronger. Family and friends’ recommendations have a major impact on their purchasing decisions,” said Thibaud Andre, Research Manager at the Daxue Consulting Group in Shanghai.
Recently, Chinese social media saw more and more Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) sharing family pictures. Many of them, use fashion as a mean to connect with their parents or grandparents, showing with pride their family’s style online. As well as UOOYAA, young Chinese prove that fashion has no age limit and that they are willing to share their lifestyle with members of the oldest generation.
Generation Z also pays tribute to their older family members’ beauty by posting pictures of them at the same age in similar poses or style. In particular, mothers are considered as ageless beauty icons by the younger generations, playing an essential role in their beauty education.
An example of this trend is the young Chinese KOL Natasha Lau, who shares her social success with her fashion-icon mom, Lisa Xia. Although she counts millions of fans and numerous brand collaborations, she is proud to attach her status as a KOL to her mother. “I think I can influence people from the young generation because of my mom, maybe I already have a base of followers because she is famous and because of my background,” Lau said.
Their social profiles are crowded with pictures of them together with the most popular stylists such as Armani, Valentino, and D&G but even if they count almost the same number of followers on Weibo, the two ladies’ personal backstory could not be more different. Although this emerging middle-class and its offspring is socially savvy and trendy, far away from the ancient Chinese stereotype, mother and daughter are not only representatives of two generations but they also embody two completely different Chinas.
© Instagram. Natasha Lau poses with her mother Lisa Xia, proving that fashion has no age limit and that members of the oldest generation can also be trendy.
The result is a growing number of elder spenders online. A “silver generation” that has historically been ignored by the fashion industry but that now has a voice in the Dragon’s marketing strategies, since they account for one-third of the entire country’s spending.
“The over-60s in China are no longer just looking for tradition and traditional ways of buying. We like treating ourselves, we like new, modern luxury products and modern ways of purchasing them,” said a 67-year-old retired school teacher from Shanghai to Jing Daily.
According to analysts at Daxue, today, the Middle Kingdom’s senior-related industries is almost $450 billion worth, a figure that is expected to double by 2021. There are an estimated 241 million people aged 60 and over in China today, 17.3% of the population according to a report by Xinhua News Agency on China’s National Bureau of Aging. However, analysts predict that the number will reach 487 million or 34.9% of the country’s population by 2050. That’s one-quarter of the entire over-60s population worldwide.
Once confined largely to life insurance and healthcare ads, glamorous Chinese seniors are in demand for high fashion today. And portraying older models in active, youthful lifestyles sells well in a culture with a strong tradition of respect and deference toward elders.
MORE ON THIS TOPIC