With the apparel industry being one of the main pillars of China’s economy, the Chinese market has indeed benefited from rapid growth over the past two decades. One of the growing sectors in China is the menswear industry, accounting for US$104,307 million as of 2021. With a population of almost 1.4 billion people, China’s rapidly rising wages have contributed to a growth in consumption and an increasing purchasing power in terms of shopping. The development of various new technologies-related industries, and China’s digitalization greatly contributed to the growth in demand for menswear. The way for men to dress has evolved, paying more attention to their appearance and look. However, entering the Chinese market is not as easy as it might seem, and you’ll have to understand all the subtleties beforehand if you want to succeed and stand amongst your competitors.
The Apparel Industry in China
For more than a decade, China has been the world’s largest apparel manufacturer and exporter. Benefiting from the World Trade Organization’s agreement on textile quota lifting, China’s clothing exports boomed after the 2000s. In 2018, China accounted for more than half of the global textile and clothing production, as well as more than 30% of the world’s apparel exports. However, in recent years, China’s clothing sector’s growth has slowed down a little bit, as the Chinese government wants to prioritize technology-related industries in order to accelerate even more China’s digitalization.
In 2015, China’s apparel market had reached 237 billion U.S. dollars and is now amounting to 324.9 billion U.S dollars. Then, this industry is expected to exceed 600 billion U.S. dollars by 2025 in China.
As shown by this statistic on the annual growth of China’s apparel market in 2019, the sales of sportswear saw a 17.3% year-on-year growth in China, followed by children’s wear with 14.3% of the share. On the other hand, the menswear industry saw a 3.9% increase
The Covid-19 pandemic’s consequences on the apparel industry in China
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not to be denied that the apparel industry in China, as in anywhere else in the world, has been strongly affected. With people staying more at home, and for some with a cut in salary, Chinese consumers were not that much into shopping
According to a survey about the COVID-19 impact on apparel purchases in China, the main reason why respondents were purchasing less apparel was due to the lockdown. Also, the reduced income was a leading reason for consumers to spend less on clothes
Menswear in China: A Booming and Lucrative Industry for Foreign Fashion Brands
Dior Fall 2021
As Chinese people having more purchasing power over the years, Chinese men are now ready to spend more on clothes. With the menswear market reaching US$104,307 million as of 2021, it is expected to grow annually by 8.47% (CAGR 2021-2025).
The apparel segment of menswear includes all types of clothes for men like coats, (outdoor) jackets, blazers, suits, trousers, shirts, pullovers as well as sports- and underwear. The upswing in terms of online shopping is due to the popularity of foreign chain stores like H&M, Zara, GAP, etc. that are gaining popularity among Chinese consumers, which also results in an increase in terms of prices. International fashion brands which were rather focused on ready-to-wear for women began to target men, from luxury brands such as Burberry to accessible brands like Zara.
According to this statistic from Statista, we can see that the annual growth rate of menswear sales in China is evolving differently over the years. In 2019, the sales of menswear in China increased by 3.9% compared to 2018.
Over the years, the menswear industry in China keeps increasing, with sales value reaching 594.9 billion yuan in 2019. It is also important to underline that the Chinese society is more open-minded than before, which explains why men are now more inclined and free to use cosmetics as part of their daily routine and focusing more on fashion.
The New Generation of Chinese Men
With the rising purchasing power of Chinese consumers as well as the influence of celebrities and KOLs on social media, Chinese men are more than ever paying attention to their looks and appearance.
While women may still be the biggest fashion spenders, it’s men consumers that are leading the race in terms of market growth. This applies of course in all fashion segments, including luxury. According to Vogue magazine, high-end menswear’s sales grew faster than womenswear for 3 consecutive years. Moreover, brands such as Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant, which were specialized at first solely on women, are now creating collections for men as well.
What is driving the menswear market in China?
Chinese actor Yang Yang
Making rapid progress in global fashion, China surpassed in 2020 the U.S. as the largest market for men’s apparel, followed by Japan, Germany, and the UK. The sector is growing in China thanks to its digitalization and the convenience it offers in terms of online shopping. By using e-commerce platforms, consumers have access to a wide range of products at an affordable price.
On the other, their increasing purchasing power enables them to more luxury brands than before, especially among young consumers, millennials, and Gen-Z. China’s rapid growth and quick urbanization have created a modern class of consumers with more money to spend and a growing passion for ongoing fashion. The demand for special-events clothing is growing, especially within the menswear segment.
Chinese men and fashion: A tremendous opportunity for foreign brands
Dior Fall 2021 with Chinese celebrities
The new generation is more open-minded and this can be felt in the dress code. Both genders will buy products they like without necessarily worrying about the product and apparel. People have less fixed ideas than before, the barrier between gender is lifted. Brands such as Rick Owens, Thom Browne, J.W.Andeson, Celine encourage people to be more open in their style, to experience new things, etc. Today, there are no more specific brands for women or men, as both can wear everything they want. The #Menswear became a hot topic on social networks, with Chinese users sharing their love for fashion and their favorite brand, as well as giving the advice to match their clothes and talk about new trends.
Therefore, even though foreign brands are still extremely popular and attractive in China, from the perspective of the industry structure, the domestic menswear brand industry has now a stable position, obvious competitive advantages in terms of visibility, localization, and price, and benefiting from the power of nationalism.
China New Fashion Trends
A new phenomenon called Yuppies, who were originally from young urban professionals of another era. Now what is called Yuppies are young men in casual and class style at the same time. They no longer wear suits to work every day. They will have a particular style, always chic but casual at the same time with their skinny jeans (tight jeans) Balmain, fitted blazers, Margiela shirts, and a pair of Nike limited edition. This new style shows the desire of men to be different, to be more creative: the Dandy today.
The industry of ready-to-wear is no longer a trend but a lifestyle. This new way of life is based on the look, the look reflects the personality. This lifestyle leads to a constant strong demand for new products. The industry of ready-to-wear also experiencing strong growth thanks to the Internet. Indeed, brands can reach customers more easily through social networks.
Street Fashion: A Hot Topic in China
If you are using social media in China, you have probably already seen these short videos that are extremely popular in China, showing men’s fashion in the streets. The majority of these videos are posted directly on Douyin (the Chinese Tik Tok) and have millions of views. This phenomenon shows that appearance and looks are more important than ever in China, and these people can influence younger users. This trend is a wonderful opportunity for brands to collaborate with influencers for example, who will share with their communities what they are wearing when going out.
When cany pretty say that these people, often called ‘shuaige 帅哥’ (good-looking guy) are kind of similar to KOLs, walking on the streets and grabbing attention both in real life and on social media.
How to sell menswear in China?
Selling in physical stores: One of the most effective ways to attract customers
As you probably already know, the apparel sector is already saturated as many international brands have already been in the Chinese market for years. You will also have to compete with Chinese brands which are already known among consumers, and probably less expensive. However, if you really want to sell your menswear, you will first need to build an online presence on the internet and on social media in order to convince people to buy them. Even it can be difficult to gain Chinese consumers’ trust at the beginning, they can still receive advice choosing the right product, try the products with the help of experts, and compare directly in the stores, and that’s why physical stores are still quite popular in China and can lucrative for you according to your budget and strategies
According to a survey from Statista, consumers’ leading reason to shop in stores is that they could feel the product. In the meantime, many consumers considered the quality and authenticity of apparel in stores are more trustworthy, which accounted for 42% of the maximum score.
Selling online: The best way to reach a wide audience
In recent years, being on e-commerce platforms has become a must-have for both Chinese and foreign companies that are ready to invest a lot of money in order to be on the most popular e-commerce platforms such as Tmall or JD.com. In fact, the majority of the Chinese population regularly purchases products online, as it is easier and more convenient.
As of 2020, there were already 782.41 million online shoppers. China’s digitalization and the daily use of smartphones connected to the internet have greatly contributed to this growth as consumers spend a lot of time on their smartphones.
Tmall: a great Online Marketplace to sell to China’s men fashionistas
Founded in 2008 under the famous Alibaba group, Tmall (天猫), is a subsidiary of the e-commerce website Taobao (淘宝网). Its target market is primarily B2C (Business-To-Consumer). Tmall’s concept is ambitious and wise as it allows both local Chinese and international companies to sell their products through the platform in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Tmall stands out from its competitor’s thanks to its strict standards in terms of quality and renown.
Over the years, Tmall was able to attract the majority of online shoppers, as well as thousands of international fashion brands. Nonetheless, platforms like JD.com and Tmall only accept high-quality products and brands that already have a good reputation in China. The menswear apparel you’ll find on Tmall is most of the time from well-known brands.
The Menswear segment is growing on JD com
Founded in 1998 by Liu Qiangdong in Beijing, JD (which stands for Jingdong 京东) was at the beginning only a magneto-optical store, which diversified over the years with electronics, computers, mobile phones, etc. In 2004, it opened its online retail platform and quickly became one of the two massive B2C online retailers in China with its competitor the Alibaba-run Tmall. Now, JD.com is partly owned by the giant Tencent, which has 20% of its stake. As of 2021, JD.com has over 470 million active customers.
Even though JD.com is the reference in terms of electronics and new technologies, it also provides a wide variety of products as well as fashion apparel, such as menswear. JD.com has set its standards for online shopping through its commitment to quality, authenticity, and the variety of products it offers. Another asset of JD.com is the delivery time, which is, in general, the same day (or less than 24 hours). Men can purchase their apparel, and be delivered within a few hours.
Taobao: entry door for smaller menswear designers
Launched in 2003 by the Chinese giant Alibaba, Taobao (淘宝网) is one of the most popular online shopping platforms, specialized in both B2C and C2C transactions, as well as the most popular online entrepreneurship platform, enabling thousands of young entrepreneurs to be successful. It has hundreds of millions of products and service listings, which are really appreciated by Chinese consumers. As of 2019, it has 300 million daily active users and 668 million mobile monthly active users. Taobao accounts for nearly 60% of the total e-commerce sales in China.
Many fashion brands are using Taobao to sell their apparel. However, it is also worth mentioning that there are lots of fakes and counterfeiting in China. That’s why Chinese consumers tend to be more cautious when buying well-known brands’ products.
Going digital in China: A prerequisite to conquer the Chinese Male Fashion market
If most sales are still happening in physical stores, the O2O (online to offline or offline to online) model has shown promising results for brands. With an ultra-connected population, it would be almost foolish to ignore online channels to promote your menswear brand in creative ways. There are so many tools for online marketing that any companies no matter its size can find something that matches its needs and budget.
Internet is a constant stream of entertainment that mixes fashion, food, wellness, sports, music, reality TV, and travel. Chinese men on the internet have turned into fashion addicts. For many of them, celebrities like David Beckham, Kanye West, Daniel Craig, Jay Z, Bradley Cooper, James Franco are the best examples of fashionable men, thus explaining why they identify with them and want to dress like them.
A brand with a distinctive concept of lifestyle that reflects both menswear and womenswear is more likely to attract different social classes and increase its profits. In particular, Chinese consumers love novelty and seeks to distinguish a particular style. By offering new opportunities in terms of fashion, Chinese consumers will be curious about your brand.
With China’s tech-savvy population, Chinese men are more addicted to fashion, menswear, high-end and luxury brands, and rare items. Over the past few years, companies have been focusing on men’s wear as a result of a growing purchasing power in emerging countries in Asia.
Chinese users are ready to buy goods on the spot because of the ease, convenience, and time-saving advantages that online retail offers. The increased security features offered by online retailers such as :
- Online payments
- Free delivery
- Improved online customer services
Men fashion Designers/Brands need a Chinese Website
The first thing you will need is a website in Mandarin Chinese. It will enable Baidu SEO and most importantly show that you are a real brand. We strongly suggest that you develop a version of your website optimized for the Chinese internet (you don’t want a slow website because you are using google plugins).
Gucci’s Chinese website
In the same vein, your website should follow UX norms Chinese netizens are used to. For instance, a live chat or easy to find QR code to send visitors to your social media. The more customer-friendly design your shopping website will have, the more it will influence customers to shop online.
Chinese menswear consumers use Baidu to find info on Fashion brands
Considered as the “Chinese Google”, Baidu is the most popular Chinese Search Engine and stands as the 5th most consulted website in the world. As of 2021, it represents 71.9% of the Chinese market share. In comparison, only 4% of internet researches is done with Google in China. So, to put it simply, Baidu is a step you can’t skip in China if you want to promote your menswear.
When looking for men apparel on Baidu
Baidu is an opening window to enter the Chinese market as consumers will do their research on it in order to discover your brand. If you are not visible through the first pages, you won’t probably get much traffic. That’s why working on Baidu’s SEO is as important as setting up your e-commerce online shop. In order to do it successfully without wasting too much time, you can contact specialized experts such as GMA. We have helped many companies increase successfully their rank on Baidu, gaining much traffic, and thus, much more clients.
Promote your Male Fashion Brands on Chinese Social Media
With the rising use of social media in China, it is undeniable that you will have to use these platforms if you want to boost your reputation and be able to display and show your jewelry. Using social media is also a good way to enhance your product exposure and gain consumer’s trust. Jewelry transactions online are poised to grow in 2021, thanks to social media platforms, new business models, and the popularity of KOLs and live to stream. However, if you’re not familiar with these apps, you can contact us for more information and tips.
Launched in 2009 by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation (新浪), Weibo (微博) is one of the biggest social media platforms in China. As its name indicates (“micro-blog”), Weibo provides micro-blogging services and is often compared to Twitter. However, it has evolved into a microblogging hybrid with Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube over the years.
As of 2021, Weibo has 56.8% of the Chinese microblogging market in terms of active users, and 86.6% in terms of browsing time over Chinese competitors such as Tencent and Baidu. It has more than 511 monthly active users and millions of posts per day, making it the largest Chinese-language mobile portal. Almost all Chinese millennials are using this social app in order to follow celebrities, KOLs, brands, read news, etc.
With the majority of foreign brands having an official account on Weibo, you will probably have to consider creating an official account on Weibo. To do so, you can contact us and our team will take care of it.
KOLs on Douyin
As one of the most popular short-video apps in China, Douyin is expected to reach 555 million daily active users in 2023. Both Douyin and TikTok are owned by Bytedance, a Chinese tech company. Douyin literally means “vibrant music” and we can say that its name perfectly matches the short-form videos (less than the 60s) allowing users to combine it with dynamic background music and creative filters. This short-video content format immediately distinguishes Douyin from traditional Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, in which the content still focuses on text, images, and longer videos. Douyin can be a strong advertising channel, especially if you hire a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to do the promotion of your products.
WeChat: The Must-have Platform to Retain Chinese Consumers
Created by the Chinese company Tencent and released in 2011, WeChat, also known as Weixin (微信) in China, is the most used social media in China with its 1.2 billion uses as of 2021, far beyond Weibo, and is expected to grow even more in 2022.
Worldwide, WeChat is one of the leading social networks, ranking sixth in terms of active user number, becoming a lucrative marketing platform with its plethora of different functionalities. Its success relies on the fact that Wechat was able to integrate almost all the features that made the success of the world’s most popular networks.
Chinese singer Jackson Wang
According to the Financial Times, Wechat is the “most important platform for luxury and fashion brands”. As the first social media in China, Wechat allows you to open an official account and publish news, send newsletters and create e-brochures. As experts in this field, we can help you to create an official Wechat account and explain how to manage it.
In order to do business in China and promote your brand, you will need to have an official account. After that, the best way for you to promote your brand is to create a WeChat H5 brochure that you will be able to share on WeChat groups, Wechat moments, and any other social media.
The best tools on Wechat for Fashion Brands
- You will be able to create a brochure presenting your company
- Spread marketing content
- Send vouchers/discounts to your followers
- Work on your Community Management
- Use WeChat mini-programs
Collaborate with Chinese KOLs and celebrities to promote your menswear brand
Another way to engage your community and attract new customers is to hire KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). This means that even if you have a small budget, you can still hire an influencer. You can even hire multiple KOLs in order to reach different kinds of consumers. Your micro-influencer will spend more time interacting with their community and answering any questions they may have about your brand. Interaction is important in order to build a relationship of “proximity” and trust with your audience. However, one of the best ways to influence men to purchase your products is to collaborate with well-known celebrities, as seen in the above picture with the Chinese actor Yang Yang.
Contact us if you want to sell menswear in China
With China being the world’s biggest market in terms of apparel, many brands are trying to enter the Chinese market in order to conquer a wide audience, and especially men with menswear. However, as demonstrated in this article, you will have to understand all of its subtleties in order to successfully manage to attract customers and stay in the long term.
Collaborating with an agency specialized in the Chinese market is the best way to achieve your goal and increase your Return On Investment. As all companies are different, the marketing and advertising strategy must be tailored according to their needs and within their financial means. Proud of the success of the companies we have helped over the years, we know exactly what a certain company needs.
if you have questions about selling, advertising, exporting, etc. your menswear in China, contact us directly, and we will reply to you within 24 hours.