At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese gymnastics champion, and former Olympic gold medalist Li Ning ignited the cauldron at the opening ceremony, and at the same time ignited interest in athletic apparel in China. While international brands remain ever popular, a growing number of Chinese athletic apparel brands have taken the stage as well. Here are the current 9 most popular athletic brands in China.
1 – Nike
Founded in 1964, Nike is indisputably one of the most widely recognized athletic brands in the world, which includes of course, China. Nike, who expanded internationally in 1978 to markets in Canada, Australia, Europe and South America didn’t arrive in China till 1980 after market reforms, but is currently one of the most popular athletic brands among Chinese youth.
2 – Adidas
Founded in Germany by Adolf Dassler in 1948, Adidas entered China in 1997, almost 20 years behind competitor Nike, which helps explain the market gap, but as the second most popular athletic brand in China, and a vast retail network, Adidas isn’t particularly worried
3 – Li Ning
Founded in 1990, China Li Ning Company Limited is China’s largest sporting goods retailer, sells its own brand ” Li Ning ” sports shoes, apparel and accessories. In 1990 the company founded by former Chinese gymnast Li Ning, Li Ning Chairman of the Board and Executive Director. By the end of 2007 as the world’s fourth brand Li Ning sporting goods industry, the company founder Li Ning in 2008 Beijing Olympic torchbearers lit the Olympic flame.
4 – Anta
Founded in 1994 in China, Anta Sports Products Limited is a joint venture between Sports Goods Co Ltd. ,Footwear Co., Ltd. Beijing Oriental Anta Sports Products Limited and Anta (Hong Kong ) International Investment Company. After years of effort, Anta has moved from simply being a regional sports shoes manufacturing enterprises to the development of a national integrated marketing -oriented sporting goods conglomerate.
5 - Converse
Founded in the United States in 1908, specializing in manufacturing men’s shoes and children’s insoles, Converse was once one of the most popular sport shoes in the world, and held a near monopoly on sport shoes in the 1950′s and 1960′s in the United States. Purchased by Nike in 2003, converse continues to grow in popularity in the Chinese market with outlets in nearly every major city throughout China. Converse continues to be hip shoe worn by young trendsetters throughout the country.
6 – PUMA
Founded in Germany in 1948, Puma was one of the first footwear companies to combine sports with fashion in a sports brand image . In 2005 Puma went through an organizational change and rebranding, which increased Puma’s international brand visibility, especially within hip-hop graffiti culture, both in the United States and abroad. Puma has been expanding aggressively in China ever since it acquired 100% of it’s long-term Chinese joint venture with Liberty China holding Ltd. in January of 2011.
7 – New Balance
Founded in 1906, the United States, New Balance has long held a high reputation for quality sport shoes and still manufactures lines of it’s shoes in the US and the UK which gives the company a much higher brand value in China which explains why New Balance is one of the most popular athletic brands in China. Its “classic” line of shoes is one of the brands biggest sellers in China.
8 – Xtep
Founded in 2001 in China, Xtep is a publicly traded sportswear company headquartered in Quanzhou, Fujian, China. Xtep is an extremely popular and fashionable athletic brand in China, and is famous for it’s use of celebrity endorsers such as actress 桂綸鎂.
9 – 361 °
This Chinese brand was founded in 1994 and originally known as the “Buick” until they changed their name to 361° in 2003. Close to the Beijing Olympics of 2008, 361° finally achieved wide brand recognition and popularity against the rising national pride. As of April 2009, 361 ° has 5,900 brand locations in it’s China network.