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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.

It’s Taobao time! Get your ski gear on. Trust us, the platform offers a range of options, from 319 to 3190 yuan.

As you (hopefully) all know by now, China is preparing to enter the sporty spotlight once again as it clicks into the bindings of the Beijing 2022 Games. Scheduled to take place in Beijing and nearby Hebei Province, the world is watching the Middle Kingdom.

We’d hereby like to add the usual disclaimer: Temper makes fashion statements, not political ones.

Perhaps in tandem with official support, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 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, 2022, it is expected these trends will intensify and continue well after the Olympic torch has left snow town.

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Ramping Things Up

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: one can Xi 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 skierand world record holder Ivan Origone to get back to base. Remarkable examples are the dǎkǎ trend (打卡or going to a tourist destination simply to take a unique photo, usually in imitation of a “celeb”), bike-sharing platforms such as Mobike and, of course, the omnipresence of mobile payment – your WeChat Wallet (ok, or Alipay) is life. One trend gaining traction bearing the potential to develop at Origone speed is the popularity of winter sports in China, like skiing.

The growth of China’s winter apparel market is principally being spurred on by none other than… the government. Its support for winter sports is most likely aimed at increasing China’s rankings in high-profile international games. Its backing of the winter sports industry in China is manifesting itself via various ways, but most notably through policies, infrastructure and programs.

Get your branded ski gear on. Image via Taobao

According to Daxue Consulting, strategies cheering on the growth of this market “include preferential tax and financial policies aimed at developing the winter sports market in China.” In addition to the physical construction of winter sports infrastructure, the government has also “taken measures to set aside land for winter sports through land use and zoning policies”. Lastly, “various programs that stand to increase the size of the winter apparel market, notably educational and youth programs that are designed to raise interest in winter sports among children”. Now you know.

Taking into account the fully booked ski resorts in Heilongjiang and Xinjiang provinces, plus other snow-white termini — yes, we checked our Ctrip apps — 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. Enter: the après-ski. According to JingDaily’s China Luxury insights, Italy’s Moncler (brrr — take that as you will) reported that “its revenue doubled across the mainland over the first nine months of 2021 compared to the third quarter of 2018.” Likewise, mainland direct sales of bad boy – we’ll slalom back to that — Canada Goose “increased by 86 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2021, year-on-year.”

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What the Goose?

Because we couldn’t resist. Naughty parka boy Canada Goose recently made another booboo – adding to the long list of the brand’s previous China-related snafus (sidenote: Google is your friend). The luxury label announced on December 9 it had, with the guidance of the Shanghai Consumer Council, updated and optimized its return and exchange policy for products sold on the Chinese mainland.

In a statement published on the company’s Sina Weibo account, Canada Goose reiterated its commitment to the 14-day free exchange policy it has always had, provided more detailed solutions for product quality issues and published detailed post-sales guidelines. What more could you possibly want? Well…

The announcement came following an incident in which a customer surnamed Jia claimed she was denied a refund. Almost needless to say, the digital realm was up in arms about the case.

The woman claimed that the 11,400-yuan jacket (roughly 2,000 buckaroos) she bought at a Canada Goose store in Shanghai emitted an odor, had loose threads and a defective logo. Jia was asked to sign an exchange policy waiver when she bought the jacket that read all products sold in Canada Goose retail stores on the mainland are “strictly nonrefundable,” and exchanges “may only be made within 14 days of the purchase,” which ran counter to the 30-day return policies stated on the company’s website.

China Daily reported that on December 1, the Shanghai Consumer Council talked with the stakeholders of the company’s IFC Mall branch in Shanghai, where the purchase was made. The woman’s money was eventually refunded.

Will this greatly affect the brand’s parka sales? A potential temporary blip aside, we doubt it.

It’s Taobao time! Get your labeled ski gear on.

Not a Slippery Slope in Sight

According to 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,” in the words of McKinsey, sooo… 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 hanfu-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 – thank dem mobile payments and upgraded infrastructure, eh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEATURED IMAGE: COURTESY OF POWSTER GOGGLES, GUANGZHOU

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Elsbeth van Paridon
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