The group has nearly 900,000 followers on Weibo

The newest and hottest boyband in China, Acrush, is actually comprised of five androgynous girls.

As reported by Quartz, China’s social network giant Tencent held a series of music events called “Husband Exhibition” at a number of Chinese universities earlier this month. The exhibition showcased upcoming pop stars who will appear on the company’s online streaming service who qualified as “husband” material for Chinese female fans.

Zhejiang based group Acrush featured in the exhibition by performing at the tour’s final stop in their home province. However, unlike the other traditional boybands featured in the exhibition, Acrush was made up of five women.

Each member is in their early twenties, described as having “edgy short hairstyles” and dressing “like a bunch of boyish hearthrobs” by Quartz.

Whilst the group won’t debut a music video until the end of April, Acrush has already garnered a huge fan base of almost 900,000 followers on Weibo. International pop star Katy Perry, who is also a big name in China, has one million Weibo followers.

Acrush’s agent Zhou Xiaobai told Quartz that their distinguishing concept is that the group is “advocating freedom, not bounded by frames”.

Talent agents in China have been keen to promote an androgynous band ever since “mother of unisex in China”, Li Yuchun, won the nationwide talent show Super Girl in 2005. Quartz states that more boyish girls have appeared on TV since Li’s win but none have earned much success. The news agency adds that few women want to take the risk.

Zhou began her search for unisex stars in March 2016. In September the agent narrowed down her target to 10 candidates before choosing Lu Keran, An Junxi, Peng Xichen, Min Junqian and Lin Fan as the five members of Acrush. The youngest is 18-year-old Lin from southwestern Sichuan province.

The 28-year-old agent says that the group’s fans are predominantly female and range from teenagers to recent college graduates. These fans relate more to the group than other boy bands because the members can understand them better, according to Zhou. “I ask them to reply every WeChat and Weibo message,” says Zhou. “They need to show gratitude [to fans].”

However, not everyone is supportive of the group. Around 15% of Acrush’s Weibo followers are  “anti-fans,” Zhou says. Nonetheless, she doesn’t care about trolls as long as the group are happy.

Acrush is under Zhejiang Huati Culture Communication Co Ltd. Company head Wang Tianhai said Huati will roll out three new girl groups between April and May. All groups under the company are androgynous or sexy with different styles according to Wang.

Huati groups will also be part of a brand called Fantasy Football Confederation – Acrush was formally known as FFC Acrush. Members of FFC learn to play soccer and incorporate it in their stage performances. Wang says sports make his stars “sunny, healthy, and full of positive energy.”