Last year L’Oreal cosmetics company earned at least $157.49 million from its men’s skincare products in China, according to the China Cosmetics Association.
Middle class Chinese men are increasingly willing to invest in their stylish appearances.
The burgeoning of metrosexuals — a straight urban man who is sensitive, caring and not embarrassed about enjoying a stylish life — in China, gender studies expert Sun Zhongxin believes, can be traced to the advancing consumer culture. Sun also believes this behavior demonstrates that the county’s middle class is the least secure and most worried about life. “They are not wealthy enough to afford luxuries on a daily basis, but not so cash-strapped that they can’t spend on items that improve their appearances,” he says.
“Dressing well and using makeup is good for me and I’m happy to be a handsome gentleman,” says 28-year-old Ge Candong. Ge began caring about his looks after college classmates taunted him for being unfashionable.
Ge and his colleagues took a trip to Los Angeles in 2010. While his companions went sightseeing, Ge went shopping: he sent $2,000 on skincare products. “A product designed to minimize the pores and control grease without feeling tight was perfect for me, so I bought it without hesitation – even though it cost me an arm and a leg,” he says. Just months later, Ge dropped $1,575 on haberdashery in Hong Kong, maxed out two credit cards in Dubai.
“Two decades ago, no man would dare walk down the street in pink, but now one in every 10 men has a pink shirt or coat in his wardrobe,” says Xiao Yaohui, Surface China’s art director. While he believes that “a woman should dress like a woman, and a man like a man,” he recognizes that men no longer seem shy about being in touch with their feminine side. He believes the mainland has entered the “gender-neutral era” in which men and women are interdependent and treated more equally.
In addition to spending on clothes and cosmetics, metrosexual men are increasingly visiting spas. Extraordinary Space, a men’s beauty chain in Beijing, was established 11 years ago and has three branches in the capital, in addition to outlets elsewhere.
In the coming decades, the popularity of these stylish men is expected to increase, as young Chinese continually rely on their appearances and beauty products to stay ahead of the pack.