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Chinese Consumers Are Shopping for Athleisure Over Luxury Goods

Brands like Adidas and Nike are experiencing a boost in sales from Greater China.
An Adidas #adigirls promotional event in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo by TPG/Getty Images

An Adidas #adigirls promotional event in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo by TPG/Getty Images

The athleisure trend is starting to gain traction among Chinese consumers — so much so that luxury goods are taking a toll as activewear brands' profits grow. According to a recent report from Bloomberg, the boost in sales within Greater China for brands like Nike and Adidas are due to two things: President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign and the rising interest in fitness. 

Since Jinping took office in 2012, he's enforced the removal of corrupt government figures and austerity in both lifestyle and appearance. As a result, the campaign has affected the shopping habits of the elite, who now opt for western sports labels over high-end brands. The country's fitness movement is giving these activewear labels a boost, too: China's fitness industry has seen an 84 percent jump — along with nearly 3,000 newly opened gyms — in a span of five years. Women especially are ditching traditional beauty standards typical to Asia (read: skinny) and setting goals towards a more toned and muscular figure.

Of course, Nike and Adidas are taking advantage of this boom. The former has teamed up with the Chinese Ministry of Education on a three-year effort to offer quality training and resources for physical education among its schools, while Adidas opened 500 stores in the country last year with plans to open 500 more in 2016.

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Although this new gain among major global brands is certainly a good thing, it's bound to be a detriment to domestic brands with their own activewear offerings. Chinese sportswear companies, like Anta Sports Products (which acquired Fila in 2009 and recently partnered with Descente, a Japanese ski label of Iotchu), are trying to keep up. However, Bloomberg notes that expectations are low due to a decrease in Anta's shares and its sluggish same-store sales.

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