Sportswear sales grew faster than those of luxury goods in China between 2012 and last year, says research group Euromonitor International.
Market leaders Adidas and Nike have both had double-digit sales growth, while Lululemon and Under Armour are also dominant.
Meanwhile, local brand Particle Fever is attracting attention with its designer sportswear.
“People in China, especially Beijing, want to be seen differently,” says co-founder Zoe Liu, who says it is the only local activewear brand that takes a creative approach to marketing and branding. It makes sports bras, leggings and running shorts designed to be trendy and fashionable as well as comfortable for activities.
Liu’s line, which is sold on Tmall as well as by Lane Crawford, sits alongside the sportswear collections of New Balance and Reebok in retail outlets like Runner Camp, a concept fitness store that opened in Shanghai six months ago and includes an experience centre and running track as well as a gym, reports the South China Morning Post.
Less than 10 years ago, most young Chinese female tourists in the country’s mountains wore a dress and heels. Booming interest in health and fitness has generated demand for more practical and fashionable fitness gear.
Liu is now making final preparations for opening her second showroom in China, in WF Central, a new high-end shopping mall on Beijing’s oldest shopping street, Wangfujing. It will look more like an art gallery or a designer concept store as Liu and her team collaborate with artists to create visual displays.
They also plan to invite emerging sports groups, such as modern dance troupes, for in-store performances.
WF Central, developed by Hongkong Land, prioritises wellness, with its tenants including Under Armour with its largest showroom internationally, Superdry with a flagship store and Hong Kong’s Pure Yoga with its first studio for China.