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Apparel: Key brands counter category volatility

Consumers seek quality sports and leisure attire


Apparel remained one of China’s most volatile categories because of slow sales, excess supply, and pressure from fast fashion imports offering affordable on-trend designs. The apparel category declined 5 percent in value after a 35 percent rise a year ago, which followed a 46 percent decline.


Leisurewear and performance attire drove the category as wealthier consumers adopted the symbols and values of middle class life, including quality clothing and concern with personal health and well-being. Chinese government support of sports also drove interest.


On Singles Day, China’s enormous fall shopping holiday on November 11, apparel was the most purchased product; 62 percent of Chinese bought an apparel item, according to a Kantar survey conducted by Lightspeed. The survey also found that, across categories, a majority of Singles Day online shoppers looked for sales on high-price brands that they had wanted to purchase.


Heilan Home led in men’s apparel sales on Alibaba’s Tmall site on Singles Day, followed by Uniqlo, the Japanese brand, which led in women’s apparel sales and was the leading apparel category on Singles Day. Heilan Home operated almost 4,400 Heilan-brand stores in China, and opened its first overseas store, Kuala Lumpur. The opening in Malaysia launched the brands overseas strategy to begin in Southeast Asia and advance in the Asia-Pacific region, before expanding globally.


Facing competition from global brands like Nike and Adidas, Anta enhanced its retail presence with new, larger stores. The company operated over 9,000 Anta brand stores, and almost 900 other stores under its higher-end Fila and Descente brands, throughout China, at the end of the first half of 2017. Anta also operated stores on Chinas leading online platforms. To add efficiency to its omnichannel strategy, Anta developed a new logistics center, expected to be operational early in 2018.


Anta planned to acquire the children’s clothing brand King Kow, expecting the demand for children’s apparel to surge with the end of the one-child policy. Meanwhile, Anta maintained its focus on basketball, running, football, cross-training, and tennis.