小清新 （xiǎoqīngxīn, literally, young, pure and fresh） originally referred to Indie Pop, a concept that originated in the UK in the 1980s, gradually spreading to literature, film, photography and other artistic fields. Today, this term refers to a group of young people under a very broad banner, people (mostly young girls) who prefer the artistic side of life, a group obsessed with today.
They like photography (or claim to). They like LOMO cameras, taking photos of the sky, their feet, hats, telephone poles, reaching out to the world in an artistic (albeit shallow) way. As you can tell, they’re a bit YOLO with their LOMO.
This group appears to be obsessed by the works of Marguerite Duras and Haruki Murakami, as well as two Chinese writers: Annie baby (安妮宝贝) and GLM (Guo Jingming 郭敬明).
They call themselves “写字的女子”（Xiě zì de nǚzǐ, Mademoiselle Writing） and enjoy writing in poetic riddles: “I started to fall in love with those large chunks of words, which fill the night and the heart.” (我开始爱上那些大段大段的文字，填满了夜晚和心脏。Wǒ kāishǐ ài shàng nàxiē dà duàn dà duàn de wénzì, tián mǎnle yèwǎn hé xīnzàng.）
For the Xiaoqingxin, Lijiang, Phoenix City, Yangshuo and Tibet are the four holy lands of travel.
You might not be able to tell who they are on the street, but their online profiles are a dead giveaway:
I am ** young **. Born on ** (month). My constellation is **. Cotton skirt. Canvas shoes. No makeup. Quiet. Stubborn. Obsessed with literature, music, drawing, movies, photography, traveling alone.
At the moment, as is often the case, the term is occasionally used by detractors, but, in the end, this new social group is trying to find a hand to hold in the dark modern world. There isn’t really a clear definition for them, as with Western (and non-Western) hipsters. But, a sub-culture is coming into its own, and that’s worth watching.
Photos courtesy of www.lomoslife.com