Seventy-six percent and rising: that’s how many Chinese urban males bought clothing in 2010, with 24 percent regarding clothes as “important purchases”, according to Chinese market researchers CTR. The trend continues as global consultants Frost & Sullivan predict that sales will hit 539.9 billion yuan ($81.7 million) by 2013, with an annual growth of 15.8 percent.
What’s flying off racks? “I prefer sports apparel and upper-casual ranges, which make me look younger and full of vigor but I wear up-market suits that cost tens of thousands of yuan during my working time,” said Gu Yuanjie, 31, the marketing manager for an international automobile firm in Shanghai.
Li Ning Co Ltd, one of the country’s leading sporting goods manufacturers, launched its Urban Sports line last June. The range, which is aimed at young professionals, includes styles that can be worn at work and during exercise.
Current trends favor both form and function. Big names like Ermenegildo Zegna, Gieves and Hawkes, Dunhill, and Hugo Boss all enjoying tremendous success, according to a report by the Li and Fung Research Center in Hong Kong. At the same time, the popular mid-market Zara brand currenty counts its Chinese market as “essential,” according to a spokesman for Inditex Group, its Spanish parent company.
Tian Xun, an editor at Esquire China magazine, explained quality, materials and design are at the top of Chinese men’s check list when buying new clothes. Luee Sun, a London-based fashion buyer for Chinese department stores, said many urban Chinese men often buy an individual item from big brands to match with cheaper clothes. Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna expected 2010 sales to grow by 30 percent in China, which is one of its biggest markets and represents roughly 25 percent of global sales.
Companies producing luxury fashion accessories are also seeing high demand across China. David Bruce Warfel, global marketing director for Zippo, the lighter manufacturers, said: “Fashion enables people to create their own individual style in China, and a key characteristic of Zippo is the wide variety of designs that suit all styles.”
photo credit: hugo boss