Oct 23, 2020|

‘Long Johns’ Popularity Goes Up Among Young Shoppers as Temperatures Go Down


by Kelly Dawson

Thermal underwear (or “Long Johns,” as they are sometimes called) have long been a contentious clothing item among China’s younger generation. Sometimes “forced” to wear them in childhood to protect against frigid temperatures, many young adults have refused to don the undergarments due to their focus on functionality over style.

But that may be changing. JD Data reports that on October 21st, the first day of this year’s Singles Day promotion period, 5 million people searched the Chinese term for “long underwear”, ranking first in searches in the apparel and underwear category— and 55% of those who purchased the thermal underwear were between 26 and 35 years old, making this demographic the absolute majority.

Rising health awareness is likely behind the surge in thermal underwear sales, according to analysts. Even as COVID-19 has been effectively contained within China, fears of the virus or other infectious diseases prevalent in winter have led to increased vigilance against the onset of cold weather.

In a heartwarming role reversal, the younger generation may now be the ones encouraging their elderly family members to wear thermal underwear to protect their health. According to JD data, 28% of customers who searched for “thermal underwear for the elderly” were between 26 and 35 years old.

Of course, old habits are hard to break: JD’s customer service center reported a surge in calls from older customers calling into the hotline to inquire about new styles of thermal underwear for the younger generation, and practical concerns regarding delivery to younger family members. Additionally, sales for older customers remain robust, with 27% of sales coming from people aged between 46 and 60.

Those older callers can rest assured: JD is stocking more than 80 new brands for thermal underwear this year, with more than 50,000 new styles on sale. Among the younger generation, new styles of thermal underwear include those for body-shaping, self-heating and more. Within older age groups and particularly in colder regions, popular categories include wool and camel hair for extra warmth.

Key brands in the thermal underwear category include Threegun, Hongdou, Hengyuanxiang and Septwolves, all of which are increasing promotion efforts and offering more styles in hopes of catering to the younger generation.

JD has also boosted marketing efforts for the item, adjusting resources and inventory in anticipation of higher sales as temperatures drop.