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Nike's Jordan enjoys above-rim revenue in nation on rising demand

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-03 09:22
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The landscape of sportswear has evolved, with more brands venturing into the realm of luxury. This shift is a response to the rising demand for high-quality, stylish athletic apparel and footwear.

The trend's recent example is the opening on March 23 of World of Flight, a top-end retail concept of the Jordan Brand — a Nike division — in the Taikoo Li shopping complex in Beijing's Sanlitun.

By establishing its presence in a neighborhood already populated by renowned fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes, the Jordan Brand has underscored its identity as a premium sports and luxury brand.

The Jordan store is a signifier of its global growth, particularly in China. Jordan World of Flight stores have operations in international markets including Milan, Tokyo and Seoul.

Sarah Mensah

Sarah Mensah, president of Jordan Brand of Nike Inc, who came to Beijing to launch the store, said: "The Chinese market is one of the most important growth-driving markets. We've seen that be consistent over time."

Jordan has experienced strong growth in China in recent years.

In the Chinese market, Nike Inc posted a 6 percent year-on-year sales growth in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024, with its Chinese New Year sales growing year-over-year, driven by Year of the Dragon collections from both Nike and Jordan.

Jordan delivered double-digit growth in women's and children's sectors in China during the quarter. The brand has banked on the robust momentum of the sportswear and luxury sectors in China.

In 2023, China's luxury market saw a 12 percent yearly increase and is forecast to experience mid-single-digit growth in 2024, said Bain & Co.

The sportswear market in China has reached 385.8 billion yuan ($53.32 billion) in 2023, from 337.7 billion yuan in 2022, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm.

Adam Zhang, founder of Key-Solution Sports Consulting Co, said the launch of the Jordan store signifies the commitment of international brands to the Chinese market and addresses the segmented consumer demand for trendy luxury sports products.

"The new generation of consumers is now prioritizing experiences alongside products, placing a strong emphasis on authentic value," said Zhang.

During the launch, the World of Flight store was packed with enthusiastic basketball fans and consumers interested in high fashion.

The four-story store showcases designs that celebrate local basketball culture and community artists, while paying homage to NBA legend Michael Jordan's heritage through storytelling.

Upon entering the store, visitors are greeted by a Jordan heritage wall, adorned with iconic artwork and photography that reflects the former Chicago Bull's legacy. Since the brand entered the market in 1997, the retired NBA great visited China in 2004 and 2015.

In addition to fostering local basketball culture, the store is expected to serve as a hub offering access to the Jordan Brand universe and for the brand to understand consumers better, Mensah said.

She said memberships for their own branded store help create a dialogue with consumers.

"We'll be able to have real direct feedback from our consumers as a result of them being members of the Jordan Brand, particularly through experiences such as customization," she said.

Its customization features a hands-on personalization experience that provides consumers an opportunity to make their Jordan products more specific to them. For example, the workshop allows consumers to personalize their Jordan Brand footwear and apparel through AJ1 hot stamp embossing, engraving and bonding patches.

Besides local design elements, the store caters to consumers seeking both performance and fashion-forward aesthetics, through the debut of the Jordan Brand Wings collection. The collection is the first Jordan-only, non-collaborative luxury streetwear line, designed and made in Italy.

The expansion of the Jordan business has been an important central growth driver for Nike Inc. Globally, the Jordan brand contributes roughly 16 percent of Nike's revenue, according to its fiscal 2023 annual report.

The key to the continuous growth of Jordan lies in its unique rapport with today's youth, said the president.

"We are resonating in a way with that space between sport and culture. From the street side, it's all about the style and the swag and sneaker culture that everybody knows about the Jordan Brand," said Mensah.

"Those two points come together in a very special culture that actually is reflective, not just in China but across the entire globe. We call it basketball culture. It's a universal language, and it's very unifying."

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