FUZHOU - Hoodies with eye-catching Chinese characters. Coats covered in tiger stripes. Shoes featuring traditional floral patterns. China's homegrown sportswear is the latest craze among its young generation as they begin to switch from international brands to locally produced ones.
Behind this Chinese fad, or guochao, is a burgeoning Chinese athletic apparel industry and market fueled in part by the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, emerging as a new driving force for China's economic growth.
ANTA Sports, a Chinese sportswear brand, released figures on March 22 saying its revenue in 2021 hit 49.3 billion yuan, a 38.9 percent year-on-year increase. According to Euromonitor, a global market research company, ANTA Sports held 16.2 percent market share of China's sports shoes and apparel in 2021, surpassing Adidas's 14.8 percent and edging closer to Nike's 25.2 percent, representing the largest market share.
With the rise of domestic brands comes greater demands. "We will continue to encourage technological innovation in performance sports and provide the best product experience for consumers with different purchasing power," said Wu Yonghua, executive director of ANTA Sports.
Other market players like Li-Ning and XTEP cannot be overlooked either. XTEP did not buckle under mounting downward pressure on China's economy compounded by sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks. Instead, its revenue doubled from 2017, exceeding 10 billion yuan for the first time in 2021.
Shuhua Sports, official fitness equipment supplier for the Beijing Winter Olympics, recently released its 2030 strategic plan, vowing to hit 10 billion yuan in sales by that year.
"The world sees different Chinese brands via Beijing 2022, as more domestic brands and products have become recognized worldwide," said Zhang Weijian, CEO of Shuhua Sports.
The rise of domestic brands contributes to the rosy outlook of China's sportswear industry in the long term.
"The continued growth of domestic brands will further improve upstream and downstream supply chains, thus spurring regional economic and social progress," said Zhang Qing, founder of Key-Solution, a sports consultancy.
Perhaps in the next decade, a sportswear hub with global influence will emerge in southeast China, where many sports apparel makers concentrate, Zhang added.