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A market already on the up is receiving a further shot in the arm as the Winter Olympics baton passes from PyeongChang 2018 to Beijing 2022.

The Chinese sportswear sector has been experiencing double-digit growth in recent years, growing at twice the rate of the overall apparel market according to consultant firm Fiducia, and is even expected to overtake the country’s luxury goods market by 2020. This growth has been driven by both rising consumer spending as well as government-led initiatives, and is evident across multiple sports and outdoor activities.

According to Fiducia, there have been more than 4 million new gym attendees in the country each year since 2011; 100 million people use China’s top fitness app, compared to 20 million for Europe’s number one app; 330 marathons were held in 2016 versus 22 in 2011; and in 2016, the country boasted 650 ski resorts, more than double the number in 2011. What’s more, the government aims to have more than 70,000 football pitches in use across the country by 2020.

And far from running out of steam anytime soon, the Chinese sportswear market is being given a second wind by the 2022 Winter Olympics, when Beijing will become the first city to host both the summer and winter events. While it’s unlikely Beijing 2022 will lead to the same hype as Beijing 2008 – when leading sportswear brands added almost 1,000 points-of-sale each year between 2007 and 2011, according to investment bank CLSA – just the government’s plans alone to increase winter sport participation should ensure the sustainable growth of the industry for many years to come.

These plans include increasing the number of Chinese participating in winter sports, from around 10 million currently to 300 million by 2022, as well as the development of 650 skating rinks and 800 ski resorts across the country by the time the Olympic flame is lit in four years’ time. And by all accounts, people are getting on board. According to an article by Xinhua News Agency, Beijing 2022 has “ignited Chinese skiing fever.”

Jack Wolfskin’s experience in China backs this up. In a 2016 interview with the Financial Times, the outdoor wear firm’s China head, Frederic Guiral de Haas, explained that more and more affluent consumers are engaging in outdoor pursuits, which led to their sales in China rising more than 15% in 2016.

These developments are also spurring participation by worldwide functional fabrics suppliers in Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics, the industry’s most effective event for accessing the Chinese market. Past editions have seen buyers from the likes of 361°, Anta Sports and Li-Ning source at the fair, as well as overseas brands such as Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Fila, Nike, Patagonia and Puma. And with 28% of the 82,000-plus trade buyers at this March’s Spring Edition sourcing functional and sportswear fabrics, including from the dedicated Functional Lab for overseas suppliers, the exposure participants in the fair can gain is second to none in the global industry.

Taiwan suppliers are amongst those that benefit from Intertextile Shanghai, and the growth in the Chinese market, as Justin Huang, President of the Taiwan Textile Federation explains. “As Chinese consumers are more willing to spend money on sportswear, functional fabrics have become the top purchasing item for sportswear brands,” he reported at the latest edition in March. “And we expect the demand for functional fabrics will continue to expand thanks to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. This fair is a must-attend for industry players. It is a very important platform for our companies to expand their business and markets, and that’s why every year, we will gather all the big names from Taiwan to this event.”

Companies looking to get in on the China action at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics from 27 – 29 September can find out more at www.intertextileapparel.com

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