China’s Youth Embrace ‘Gross’ Work Outfits, A Rebellion Against Workplace Norms

Furry Slippers And Sweatpants (Credits: Douyin )

In mainland China, a quirky new trend has taken the internet by storm: the flaunting of “gross” work outfits. As young Chinese individuals go through the challenges of the workplace, they’re embracing a tongue-in-cheek rebellion, using their attire to express frustration with various aspects of their professional lives.

Social media platforms like Douyin (China’s TikTok) have become battlegrounds for this unconventional fashion movement. Under hashtags such as #grossoutfitforwork and #uglyclothesshouldbeforwork, users proudly showcase their most unconventional ensembles, sparking a wave of creativity and competition to see who can craft the most outrageous look.

Social Media Trend Reflects Discontent Amidst Economic Challenges

The trend gained momentum when a video by Douyin user Kendou S went viral, depicting her donning a mishmash of layers in response to criticism from her boss. The video, liked and shared by thousands, epitomized the spirit of the movement, with Kendou S boldly challenging societal norms with her daring attire.

Responses to these posts range from humorous anecdotes to poignant reflections on workplace realities. Some individuals recount tales of being reprimanded for their attire, while others lament the low wages and dismal job prospects that motivate their sartorial rebellion.

Kendou S (Left) Paired A Quilted Pink Jacket With A Beige Dress, Flannel Pajama Pants And Fur-Lined Boots.
(Credits: Douyin)

This phenomenon emerges against the backdrop of a challenging job market for China’s youth, with staggering unemployment rates and uncertain economic prospects. Graduates entering the workforce are confronted with daunting statistics, prompting many to question the traditional narrative of career success.

Bohan Qiu, founder of the Boh Project, observes a shift in attitudes towards work among China’s younger generation. Where once there was a fervent pursuit of professional dreams, now there’s a growing disillusionment with the corporate rat race. The allure of stability and success promised by conventional careers is fading, replaced by a desire for authenticity and fulfillment.

Chinese Social Media Users Have Posted Under Hashtags Like #Grossoutfitforwork #Uglyclothesshouldbeforwork #Ootd (Credits: Douyin)

While the viral examples of “gross outfits” may represent extreme cases, Qiu believes that casual dressing for work is becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly in industries characterized by long hours and remote work. The acceptance of relaxed attire reflects a broader shift towards prioritizing comfort and self-expression in the workplace.

Ultimately, the trend of “gross outfits” serves as a playful yet poignant commentary on contemporary work culture in China. As young individuals go through the complexities of employment in an ever-changing sphere, their fashion choices become a powerful means of self-expression and defiance against societal expectations.

Mousumi Routray is experienced content writer who helps businesses reach their audience through engaging content. She has written blog posts, articles, newsletters and more for companies in tech, entertainment and other industries.