After several years of slow growth because of weakened demand, foreign competition, excess inventory, and overstoring, the apparel category bounced back, growing 35 percent in value following a 46 percent decline a year ago.
Factors driving the rebound included the government’s promotion of sports and health, and the resulting popularity of sports apparel. The end of the one-child policy and anticipation of rising demand for children’s clothing added optimism. In addition, promotion around the Rio Olympics drove sales. And e-commerce was an important factor.
Three apparel brands ranked in the BrandZÔ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017, but only one brand, Anta, remained from last year’s ranking. Semir reappeared after an absence of several years. And Heilan Home joined the ranking for the first time.
A marketer of mass market functional sports apparel, Anta operated over 9,000 stores, many of which also sell its FILA brand and its children’s brands. Anta created many of the uniforms worn by Chinese athletes at the Rio Olympics.
Semir, a maker of casual clothing, experienced strong e-commerce results, including an increase in “Singles Day” sales of around 65 percent. And the brand continued to expand overseas, particularly to Russia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
Heilan Home is a major menswear brand that began in smaller markets and has opened stores in cities throughout China, maintaining growth with aggressive store expansion and supply chain efficiency improvements.