At China’s Strawberry Music Festival, Show-Goers Embraced Cowboy Kitsch

The Strawberry Music Festival took place in Chengdu, China last weekend, amid a record heat wave. Despite the scorching sun, attendees still pulled out all the bells and whistles with their fashion—albeit with tons of UV-protecting hats of the bucket and cowboy variety. One standout moment? A festival-goer wearing a colorful rave-ready belt around their exposed midriff, à la Carrie Bradshaw.

The two-day event also featured a stellar lineup of acts popular in China and beyond, including Wu Tiao Ren (one of the most popular folk banks in China), nursing-student-turned-pop-star Mao Buyi (who one outlet described as an “accidental megastar”), and the rock band Jiu Lian Zhen, which is making a name for itself by creating music in the more regional Hakka dialect instead of the standard Mandarin.

A lineup that mirrors the under-represented vibrancy and diversity of China’s youth is nothing new. The Strawberry Music Festival first launched in 2009, at Beijing’s Tongzhou Canal Park, with some of the most cutting-edge acts in China at the time. Since that initial staging, over 118 Strawberry Festivals have been held in 35 cities across China. More than 6.5 million people have attended over the past fourteen years.

And sure, the Strawberry Festival was ostensibly about the music, but it also inadvertently offered a compelling glimpse at the state of fashion in China and surrounding areas. At the festival, the most noteworthy looks eschewed logo-heavy maximalism and leaned more towards muted, desert-ready fashion. Perhaps China’s summer festival goers are enamored with the fashion of hot and dry climates: a lot of cowboy-inspired choices were on display too, from ten-gallon hats to ranch-ready boots.

There were also plenty of callbacks to the fashion of the aughts, like loose-fitted ankle-length skirts that harkened back to the darkest days of mid-aughts fashion. And you could spot baggy cargo pants, crochet bra tops, and studded belt buckles. The whole affair seems to foreshadow an impending wave of Diesel-flavored aesthetics, calling back to that period from 2007 to 2009 when everyone dressed like a rock band groupie.

In short, the celebration of music was also a celebration of individualistic style. Below are some of the best looks from the Strawberry Music Festival.

Photographed by Yumeng Zheng

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