Olympic torch heats up winter apparel

By Elsbeth van Paridon
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, January 6, 2022
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A woman skis in traditional Chinese clothing in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, on March 28, 2021. [CNSPHOTO]

The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 are fashioning an adrenaline-induced pulsating winter apparel niche in China. Courtesy of an amplified slash advertised awareness of outdoor sports, the nation's (budding) winter sports devotees are gearing up to hit the slopes. In style.

Perhaps in tandem with official support, the Beijing 2022 Games have already sparked increased expenditure on winter sports and the very necessary associated apparel. In the run-up to the opening ceremony on February 4, it is expected these trends will intensify and continue well after the Olympic torch has left snow town. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: One can see everything through fashion.

Trends in China tend to catch on fast. That might actually be an understatement: They can spread even faster than it would take for Italian speed skier and world record holder Ivan Origone to get back to base. Remarkable examples are the dăkă trend (going to a tourist destination simply to take a unique photo, usually in imitation of a "celeb"), bike-sharing platforms and, of course, the omnipresence of mobile payment—your WeChat Wallet is life. One trend gaining traction, bearing the potential to develop at Origone speed, is the popularity of luxury sports in China, like skiing.

The growth of China's winter apparel market is principally being spurred on by none other than... the government.

Strategies cheering on the expansion of this market include preferential tax and financial policies aimed at developing the winter sports niche in China. In addition to the physical construction of infrastructure, the government has also taken measures to set aside land for winter sports through new usage and zoning policies. Lastly, various programs stand to increase the size of the winter apparel market, notably educational and youth programs designed to raise interest in winter sports among children.

Taking into account the fully booked ski resorts in northeast and northwest China, plus other snow-white termini—check your Ctrip app—we'd dare conclude the Chinese are willing to board the gondola whisking them to the mountain top for a spot of athletic indulgence. 

From branded ski apparel, opportunity roams rife in this sector. The winter sports boom has also come at a time when status and style deliver whumpf whumpf lifestyle statements, and related products should benefit consumers beyond the ski slopes. Italy's Moncler reported that its revenue doubled across the Chinese mainland over the first nine months of 2021, compared to the third quarter of 2018. Likewise, mainland direct sales of the at times controversial Canada Goose label "increased by 86 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2021, year on year," a report on luxury in China read.

According to recent McKinsey research, the "growth of luxury sports can be captured in statistics showing the increase in snowboard sales, which grew by more than 20 percent in 2016." While most reports on the winter sports topic highlight the strong growth in snowboarding, especially among millennials and Gen Zs, it is also worth noting that skiing is still growing gradually, with annual growth near 10 percent. Both of these rates outpace China's overall GDP growth, so one might argue that the markets for snowboarding and skiing are performing pretty well in the Middle Kingdom.

More importantly, as skiing is considered a luxury sport and usually requires the buying of more exclusive gear, the market comes with solid potential, opening the doors to a whole new wardrobe.

Speaking of fashion statements...

Even in the realm of winter sports, no tribe shall be left behind! You can order a traditional Chinese costume styled slope- or resort-befitting outfit for your furry friend—say, a Tang Dynasty (618-907) suit slash coat—on the online shopping Walhalla that is Taobao, anytime, anywhere. Courtesy of the mobile payments and upgraded infrastructure.

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