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Dopamine Dressing: China’s Radiant Embrace of Joy through Fashion

LifestyleFashionDopamine Dressing: China's Radiant Embrace of Joy through Fashion

The year 2023 has seen a captivating fashion evolution that transcends borders: “dopamine dressing.” In China, this trend has especially resonated with young adults, invigorating their wardrobe with an infusion of joy brought about by audacious, bright colours.

At its heart, dopamine dressing is about wearing happiness. The core principle is simple yet profound: garbing oneself in clothing that features electrifying patterns and saturated, dazzling colours, such as hot pink, lime green, and lemon yellow. The objective is to mimic the euphoria experienced when our body releases dopamine, a chemical associated with excitement and elation. Through this sartorial choice, wearers seek to amplify their moods, anchoring their emotional state in positivity and joy.

Dopamine dressing, however, isn’t just about the external. It champions emotional healing through colour, harnessing the psychology that associates vivacious colours with feelings of delight, calm, and overall positivity.

This trend skyrocketed to virality when a well-known Douyin influencer, Baizhou Xiaoxiong or “Daytime Bear” in English, uploaded a series of clips showcasing her donning what she coined as “rainbow dressing.” Within mere seconds, viewers were treated to a carousel of six bright, summer outfits. The videos’ popularity exploded, with some garnering over 5 million likes each, and her followers swelled by a staggering 2.8 million in a single month, as noted by Feigua Data.

But the phenomenon wasn’t confined to just one influencer. Dopamine dressing became a wide-spread cultural sensation. Stars like actress Yu Shuxin and influencer Yi Mengling openly embraced the trend. It even captured the attention of institutional figures. For instance, the Fire Department in Jiangxi province shared a whimsical video showcasing colourful iterations of firefighters’ outfits, which was lauded with an impressive 2.6 million likes.

A fascinating twist occurred when netizens drew parallels between dopamine dressing and the ancient Terracotta Army. While today’s exhibited warriors are devoid of their original colour due to oxidation, historical records suggest these iconic statues were painted in eight vibrant hues when first crafted. One user humorously remarked on Xiaohongshu, “The terracotta warriors were the pioneer dopamine dressers!”

The commercial impact has been palpable. Brands like Uniqlo, traditionally known for understated designs, promptly pivoted to introduce radiant collections, meeting the surging demand.

Such shifts in sartorial choices reflect deeper societal transitions. While earlier fashion waves like “normcore” emphasized simplicity and disconnection from rampant consumerism, dopamine dressing represents a post-pandemic transformation. After facing a period of widespread uncertainty and anxiety due to Covid-19, the Chinese population is gravitating towards joyful individualism. It underscores a collective realization: happiness and positivity should always be at the forefront of life.


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