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China’s Up-and-Coming Sports Gear Makers: When Politics Meets Business

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Credit: Depositphotos When Xi Jinping took center stage in early 2022 for the Beijing Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony, he was sporting a marine blue parka – specifically, one made by Canadian outfitter Arc’teryx. While the brand may be a foreign one at first glance, it was actually acquired by Chinese sporting goods manufacturer ANTA Sports in 2019. The jacket sold out in China immediately. ANTA, official sportswear partner of the Olympic games, went on to reap the benefits of that status throughout the 17 day event: Chinese athletes including star skier Eileen Gu were all outfitted in ANTA gear, making the brand omnipresent and rocketing sales to previously unseen levels, an increase of up to 15-fold.

But the very reasons that business at home has boomed for China’s sports gear makers is complicating their international endeavors.

How ANTA and Li-Ning Gained a Foothold at Home

Before this spotlight, ANTA was relatively unknown internationally, and that was doubly so for its Chinese rival, Li-Ning. For decades, American company Nike and Germany’s Adidas dominated international markets for sporting goods and apparel. With their global market presence, world-leading athletes under sponsorship, and products that transcend the lines between sports and urban fashion, both […]

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