The Rise of Anti-Mainstream Trend

Inside China Inside China

Produce 101 (创造101) is the Chinese version of the South Korean reality TV show aiming to create the girl group of the new generation through training offered by celebrity mentors. 11 girls shall be selected from 101 intern contestants to form the idol group.

Recently, a contestant named Wang Ju (王菊) became very popular and raised debates on social media just because of her anti-mainstream appearance. While the mainstream stereotype promotes young girls with porcelain white skin, skinny figures, a cute & sweet style, Wang Ju is just the opposite: She is 25 years old and has dark skin, a curvy body and a Western styled look.

Wang Ju

According to her endorsers, Wang Ju represents women who are independent, brave, and hard-working. This is exactly what modern Chinese women wish to be. Wang Ju’s endorsers said on social media that “picking Wang Ju is picking yourself”. In other words, her anti-mainstream style actually suits the mainstream need of feminism –  finding a way to embrace who one truly is and be confident about it.

Many people switched endorsement to Wang Ju because they suddenly realized that the power of redefining modern Chinese women lies in their own hands. The new standard of beauty is, based on the case of Wang Ju, an inner beauty built on strong self-confidence. Most importantly, beauty does not exist in a single form; variety is a must in the future.

Li Yuchun

Wang Ju is certainly not the first anti-mainstream idol in China. Li Yuchun (or Chris Lee, 李宇春), singer and actress who has been popular for more than 10 years, is famous for her unisex look. Li Yuchun is the latest ambassador for Gucci since the unisex style is exactly what the brand is going for under the direction of Alessandro Michele. In China, celebrities such as Yang Mi (杨幂) and Lu Han (鹿晗) have worn clothes of the opposite sex just for having an extra edge in their looks. Thus, unisex should not be confused with cross-dressing; blurring the gap between the genders is seen as something modern, creative and cool.


Catherine DUPUIS
Head of Strategic planning
Research Manager