Fila, the Italian-born sportswear brand, has achieved remarkable success in China, generating a record revenue of CHY21.82 billion (approximately $3.37 billion) in 2021, according to the company’s financial statement. This surge in growth can be largely attributed to the thriving Chinese sportswear market and the strength of the local supply chain. Fila has transformed from a struggling brand to a multi-billion-dollar revenue powerhouse in China.

In 2009, Anta Sports, a leading Chinese sport apparel and equipment group, acquired Fila’s franchised brands for mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao. This acquisition allowed Fila to establish itself as a high-end sportswear label in the Chinese market and win over athleisure consumers with its unique blend of Italian elegance and sporting expertise.

Li Ling, vice-president of Anta Sports, stated that the decision to focus on fashion and individual style was driven by the growing consumer demand in China. Fila embraced the latest trends popular among Chinese younger generations and collaborated with renowned international designers to create a distinct brand image. This strategic move helped consumers dissociate Fila from its previous struggle and gave the brand a fresh appeal.

Yao Weixiong, president of Fila Greater China, emphasized the inspiration that Fila’s hundred-year-plus history provides for their designers. These designers visit the Fila museum in Biella, Italy, which houses an extensive collection of over 100,000 sketches and product samples. Drawing from this rich history, Fila’s designers create collections that resonate with Chinese consumers, further strengthening the brand’s appeal.

The Chinese sportswear market has experienced significant growth over the years. According to market research firm Euromonitor, its retail revenue increased from CHY79 billion in 2007 to CHY371.8 billion in 2021. Projections indicate that the market will continue to grow and reach a value of CHY600 billion by 2026. This presents significant opportunities for Fila to further tap into the booming Chinese consumer market.

Fila also benefits from China’s well-established and efficient supply chain. Anta Sports is headquartered in Jinjiang, a city in China’s Fujian province known as the “world’s largest manufacturing hub for trainers.” Approximately 40% of China’s trainer output and 20% of the global output is produced in Jinjiang. Fila has taken advantage of this by setting up its own production facilities in the city, ensuring manufacturing efficiency and quick turnaround times.

Looking ahead, Fila has ambitious plans to continue expanding and catering to the growing demand from Chinese consumers. The company intends to leverage the robust sportswear supply chain in Fujian and collaborate with an enlarged research and development office. With the improving standards of living in China and the Chinese people’s increasing interest in sportswear, Fila is well-positioned to thrive in this thriving market.

Useful links:
1. Fila Official Website
2. Euromonitor’s Report on Sportswear in China