2021 saw many prominent trends develop in China. Popular elements of society – social media, wellness and fashion – were affected by COVID-19. How will these changes impact the year to come?

Social Media

COVID-19 put China on lockdown for the majority of 2021 and the city of Beijing into 2022. In lockdown, social media became a new outlet and constant companion. 

The number of social network users increased by 12.9 percent compared to the previous year. This increase was seen through networking sites such as Wechat, Tencent QQ and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. 

People were using social media as a means to stay connected with loved ones during the pandemic, but also to form new connections. 

Douyin caught the eyes of many because of its distracting entertainment and famous stars, such as Chen He, Andy Lau and Dilireba Dilmurat. These men and women became the most-followed artists, capturing mass attention with their short videos. 

Here are some more videos that brought laughter to millions. 

Tencent QQ also saw massive growth in 2021. The app launched in 2014, but took off in November 2020 and into 2021 with an increase of over 568 million users. 

This social networking site has everything to offer: social games, music, shopping, blogging, moves and group-chat software. It has expanded throughout China, but the goal is to connect users from all over the world. 

Health

The isolation and boredom in lockdown inspired a global trend: at-home fitness. Many saw the time as an opportunity to rediscover themselves and transform their mental and physical health.

Peloton took off in the United States, Australia and parts of Europe. China, on the other hand, developed its own version: the Xiaomi Yesoul V1- Plus Beast smart exercise bike.

The growth of the wellness and fitness industries launched a “national fitness campaign” out of Beijing. This will most likely continue to expand across the country as campaigns emphasize wellness and the fitness markets increase

In addition, the use of social media helped make at-home fitness more efficient. Consumer apps such as Nike and Lululemon created their own workout videos. 

                   

All you need is a mat and your body to move. 

Douyin and Weibo influencers were constantly posting their own versions of ways to stay fit. Influencers posted videos with captions such as “a day in my life” and “what I eat in a day” with the hashtag #fitnesstok.

The combination of social media and fitness became a new way to inspire people to “get moving.” 

Fashion  

The rise in at-home fitness also caused a trend in sportswear as an everyday fashion trend.

Brand names such as Lining, Nike, Anta and Adidas marketed “athleisure.” The term presents consumers with the easy transition from leisure to exercise. 

“Athleisure” was initially developed in the U.S., but customers in China quickly grew receptive to it. This happened mainly through celebrity endorsements for Nike and Adidas. 

                     Jackson Yee endorsing Adidas

The increased trend of prioritizing health in China will allow the sportswear industry to grow exponentially in 2022. 

Athleisure is not the only fashion trend that will remain present this year. Shanghai Fashion Week displayed trends surrounding the idea of comfort and relaxed minimalist silhouettes. 

The effects of COVID-19 inspired young designers to incorporate quarantine, lockdown and isolation into their designs. Rather than bold and timely pieces, fashion lines are presenting calmer tones and flexible street styles


These are just some examples of how COVID-19 has affected our lives in more ways than we think. It changed our everyday lives and these changes are here to stay. 

Social media allowed us to feel less alone in times of uncertainty, form new connections and perhaps try something new. People were inspired to ‘get moving’ from the comfort of their homes. Designers used their experiences as inspiration. 

The virus has caused a global pandemic, but that has not stopped us from working on ourselves mentally and physically. 

While COVID-19 brought many consequences, these trends are proof that we will find ways to adapt and move forward into an optimistic 2022.


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Caroline Liekweg
Caroline is a writing intern from the University of Southern California, majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Chinese for the Professions. She hopes to use her writing to address and understand cultural connections between China and Western countries.
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