Chinese Consumers and the Knitwear Fashion Market

Zhang, Xin; Gale, Colin and Eckert, Claudia (2018). Chinese Consumers and the Knitwear Fashion Market. In: Xu, Yingjiao; Chi, Ting and Su, Jin eds. Chinese Consumers and the Fashion Market. Springer Series in Fashion Business. Singapore: Springer, pp. 193–212.



The Chinese knitwear industry is in crisis and needs to adapt to survive. Chinese knitwear brands face the problems of a shrinking domestic market, an ageing consumer base and lack of appeal to new generations. Meanwhile, products created by the industry are becoming more homogeneous.

Influenced by globalization, Chinese consumers have a wide choice of products with different styles and brands in the fashion market. As more and more international brands enter into the Chinese market, offering clothes that appeal to younger consumers, the challenge for many established Chinese fashion brands, especially in knitwear, is increasing.

This paper reports on research into creative design in Chinese knitwear brands, which revealed that the Chinese knitwear industry is lacking a creative culture. In many knitwear companies in China, the lack of understanding of the value of design stems from a number of factors: restricted creative freedom for designers in companies and an absence of practice in the design education system for creative processes to develop. This results in companies lacking confidence in their designers’ creative abilities.

This paper introduces the Chinese knitwear market and fashion consumers in China. It discusses why many Chinese consumers prefer luxury or international brands rather than domestic brands and analyses the gaps in creative design between Chinese and successful international brands. This is based on research into consumer behavior for knitwear. It concludes by making recommendations on how the industry can turn things around.

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