Alipay X Tmall transform China’s health code to a fashion symbol

Health QR codes are increasingly being used as a symbol to show that you adopt a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude towards life.

Used to gain access to shops, public transport, restaurants and attractions, your personal QR health code has become an essential part of daily life in post-COVID 19 China.

However, among young people, the green health code does not only represent your health status, but it is also increasingly being used as a symbol to show that you adopt a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude towards life.

Tmall has quickly picked up on this growing trend among young people and has encouraged fashion brands to take part in its co-branding campaign with Alipay which promotes fashion with a health twist.

Red, orange, green – health codes allow a return to normal life

By April, after three months of strict lockdown measures in which offices, shops and restaurants were closed and travel was forbidden, China had significantly reduced the number of COVID-19 cases and began easing these restrictions.

To monitor the millions of people returning to work and prevent a second wave of cases, authorities introduced the health code – a health rating system rolled out by Alipay (WeChat also have a similar feature).

The health code is generated depending on personal information and recent travel and medical history – as a result, people are given either green, yellow or red health codes depending on their risk of having coronavirus.

Health QR codes must be presented when entering shops, attractions, public facilities, offices and when using public transport. The green health code allows people to be out in public freely, while yellow and red require a period of quarantine.

A changing relationship between fashion and health

Health and fitness has become a growing trend among Chinese consumers, particularly as COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a surge in demand for online exercise classes as well as several popular food outlets launching meat-free products. Fashion has been no exception to this trend. More and more fashion brands are realising the increasing importance of health to their consumers.

Alipay collaborated with young designers from four male fashion brands – GXG, KKtP, Mark Fairwhale and GOLDENMATRX – to release their summer 2020 collections which were launched on Tmall, the online B2C shopping platform owned by Alibaba.

Green for health and hope

The designers appealed to the colour green in their collections – a colour which had become closely associated with health due to the health code system. They were also inspired by green because of its connection with the arrival of spring. In Chinese culture, spring is closely linked to hope and thought to bring a new lease of life. These two “green” elements were combined to express the connection between fashion and people’s desire to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Mark Fairwhale’s collection featured a less subtle display of the combination between fashion and health with green health codes on T-shirts. Although the QR code was generic and could not be scanned to show an individual’s health data, the idea behind it – that a friend could scan the health code on your T-shirt – presents a unique combination of health, fashion and social interaction.

The collections were popular online and the hashtag “Green health code T-shirt” was viewed 14.9 million times on Weibo, with “green health code becomes fashionable” hitting 563,000 views.

Tmall quick off the mark to embrace the green health code

While health has always been closely linked to fashion, a new, more outward expression of health has emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among young people, the green health code has become a fashion symbol and a way of expressing that you live a healthy lifestyle.

Tmall worked with young designers who were familiar with this trend to produce a collection that was popular among China’s young people. Alipay and Tmall’s collaboration shows the necessity for Chinese brands and platforms to be acutely aware of current trends and seize the moment to integrate them into their campaigns. 

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