A new online trend has flooded Chinese social media platforms with images of influencers dressing like preppy American high school students and posing in front of Shanghai Ikea lockers, much to the chagrin of shoppers.
The trend, called “Meigaofeng” (American high school style in English), is currently prevalent on Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), China’s version of Instagram. Several accounts on Weibo, such as Jimu News, have also reported on the trend.
The trend is simple. Influencers dress up in American high school uniforms like those worn in “Gossip Girl” or “The Princess Diaries” — coat, white buttoned long sleeves, pleated skirts, tie and all — and pose in front of the lockers in the furniture company’s Shanghai locations.
They believe that the lockers in IKEA are perfect for creating the atmosphere typically seen in American high school series or movies, TikToker and Chinese tutor @candiselin86 explained.
@candiselin86 Gotta hand it to Chinese people when it comes to maximizing limited resources #china #ikea #chinese #influencer #highschool #greenscreen ♬ Old Disney Swing Jazz – Nico
The blue lockers are meant for customers to store their belongings while shopping. Some Xiaohongshu commenters have complained that the influencers are causing much disruption to their activities.
“It’s really annoying,” one Xiaohongshu user complained. “The last time I went to Ikea, I wanted to see the furniture exhibits, but a group of teenagers was taking photos, so I couldn’t get a good look.”
“It was already very crowded at Ikea, and we had to fight for space with people who were taking pictures,” another comment read. “Now, finally, we won’t be crowded out by people holding cameras, or have to endure the endless flash of cameras.”
“Meigaofeng” became so disruptive that Ikea China allegedly banned influencers from taking pictures with their lockers, according to Chinese tech investor and analyst Rui Ma.
So weird. Chinese influencers recently got into taking photos by IKEA storage lockers and pretending that they were in the halls of an American high school. It got so disruptive IKEA just banned the practice. Very obnoxious. Also, what high school do they have in mind?! pic.twitter.com/hp8HTg7QeZ
— Rui Ma 马睿 (@ruima) September 6, 2022
While some Weibo users complained online that security guards from Ikea Shanghai and Chengdu have stopped them from taking pictures inside the stores, a Guangzhou news outlet clarified that the ban was “misinterpreted.” The report explained that Ikea staff would only stop influencers who disrupt other shoppers.
A similar trend also swept Xiaohongshu last year. Several influencers took to the social media platform to share pictures of themselves in front of the Costco in Shanghai and pretended to be in the United States. Some of them wrote in the captions, “pretending to be in Los Angeles” or “back to the West Coast.”