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Century-old Italy-born brand Fila gains new life in China

Italy-born sportswear brand Fila has gained new life in China, with its operating revenue reaching a record high of 21.82 billion yuan (about 3.37 billion U.S. dollars) in 2021, according to its financial statements.

China's rapidly developing sportswear market and strong industry chain enabled Fila to grow from an in-loss brand to one with a revenue of more than 20 billion yuan. China's major sportswear company Anta Sports acquired franchises for Fila Group's trademarks on the Chinese mainland as well as in Hong Kong and Macao in 2009.

After the acquisition, Fila found its position as a high-end sports fashion clothing brand in China, gaining Chinese consumers with its unique combination of a stylish and sporty image, also dubbed "athleisure."

"We realized that Chinese consumers' demand for fashion and individuality has been increasing," said Li Ling, vice president of Anta Group.

By embracing the latest craze among China's young generation and having cross-over cooperation with world-renowned designers, Fila has gained awareness in the Chinese market, in which consumers can hardly relate the brand with one that was in deficit a dozen years ago.

According to Yao Weixiong, president of Fila Greater China, their designers regularly visit the Fila Museum in the brand's birthplace of Biella, Italy, where more than 100,000 sketches and samples of the brand's designs are stored.

"Designers draw inspiration from the brand's more than 100 years of history and then create collections based on the styles that meet Chinese consumers," said Yao.

According to Euromonitor, a global market research company, the retail size of China's sportswear market has grown from 79 billion yuan in 2007 to 371.8 billion yuan in 2021. It is estimated to reach 600 billion yuan in 2026.

China's booming consumer market provides Fila with more possibilities, while a mature industrial chain also guarantees its manufacturing.

Anta's headquarters is situated in Jinjiang, east China's Fujian Province. Jinjiang is dubbed as "the world's largest sneaker production base." More than 40 percent of the country's athletic shoes and 20 percent of that in the world were made in the city. Fila's production line has also been set there, ensuring its production efficiency.

"The company will continue to grow on the robust sportswear supply chain in Fujian, and cooperate with more R&D personnel to better meet the burgeoning demand of Chinese consumers as their quality of life further improved," said Li Ling, vice president of Anta. 

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