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Sports apparel makers focus on design upgrades

Better workmanship, enhanced qualities and eye-catching details help boost value.

China suppliers of sports apparel are improving the construction, functionality and visual appeal of their latest models.

Performance wear
This 95:5 modal-spandex performance wear from Beta is moisture-wicking and anti-microbial.

Many products, particularly those in the high end, now boast smoother, thinner and stronger seams. For this, factories are employing 4-needle, 6-thread flatlock machines instead of the usual 3-needle, 5-thread variants. The enhanced seaming makes garments lighter and more comfortable to wear.

Recent sports tops and pants are also breathable, and moisture-absorbent or -wicking. Depending on the activity for which they are designed, styles may be water-, wind- or odor-resistant, quick-drying, warmth-retentive, anti-bacterial or UV-protective.

In addition, companies are following the aesthetic trends in casual wear. Women's models come in feminine hues such as rose red and pastel blue, while men's variants adopt white, black, navy blue and other neutral colors.

Several feature abstract patterns or boast portions in contrasting shades. Dye-sublimation printing is increasingly being utilized for logos as it provides more vivid graphics without affecting the clothes' breathability.

Companies in China offer a range of sports tops and pants. Basketball jerseys and shorts are made of pure polyester or cotton-polyester weighing 120 to 160gsm. The collars are often ribbed. Products have printed or embroidered motifs. Upscale versions typically emphasize odor and UV resistance, and anti-bacterial and quick-dry properties.

Soccer jerseys and shorts usually come in 100 percent polyester, although up to 5 percent spandex can be added for enhanced comfort. The fabrics are between 120 and 200gsm. Designs highlight interlock neckbands and reinforced shoulder stitches.

Logos are silk-screened, transfer-printed or embroidered. Most styles boast features similar to basketball sets.

Cotton, polyester and nylon with spandex or Lycra are adopted for yoga and other kinds of exercise apparel. The line consists of tank tops, short- and long-sleeved shirts, shorts, capris and long pants.

Environment-friendly materials such as organic cotton and bamboo charcoal are commonly used in high-end releases. Such models also boast quick-dry, and anti-pilling and -bacterial properties.

Suppliers employ polyester- or nylon-spandex for jogging and cycling clothes. Products often incorporate reflective piping, zippers or prints so that they remain visible during rainy or foggy weather.

Jogging pants typically have pockets for holding small items such as keys and music players. Many cycling jerseys utilize invisible zippers as the closure and are fitted with back compartments that can store water bottles. Further, an elastic band is placed on the hem to keep the shirt flat on the body even if the person is moving at a high speed.

Sports apparel prices depend mainly on the design complexity, materials and pattern application methods. The majority of China factories uselocally sourced inputs unless buyers specify otherwise. In general, imported kinds are more durable than the alternatives, but they also cost higher. To illustrate, domestically made seat padding for cycling shorts is valued at $1 per piece. Foreign versions are double the amount.

Low-end releases are below $5 per set, and come in polyester, cotton or microfiber between 120 and 160gsm. Spandex is sometimes added for stretch. Going for $5 to $8, midrange styles adopt 160 to 180gsm polyester or nylon mixed with spandex or Lycra.

Sportswear above $8 is considered high-end. Functional fabrics, including Supplex, CoolMax, CoolDry and Tactel, are usually preferred for such products. Modal, organic cotton, bamboo charcoal and other 'green' textiles are typical options as well. Spandex or Lycra is also incorporated to enhance comfort. The fabric weight exceeds 180gsm.

Most inexpensive variants have solid colors, although they can be decorated with small motifs. Silk-screening, rubber printing and embroidery are employed for models across all price points. Suppliers, however, use dye sublimation only on upscale releases as the process costs about 70 percent higher than the usual methods.

Product gallery

Sports apparel price guide


Women's activewear
Product gallery

Beta Textiles Co. Ltd

Model: FlatlockActivewearAAA
MOQ: 1,000 pieces
Delivery: 25 days
Description: Women's activewear; 95:5 modal-spandex; long sleeves; flatlock stitches; moisture-wicking, anti-microbial

Men's performance wear

Beta Textiles Co. Ltd

Model: PolyproPerformanceAAA
MOQ: 1,000 pieces
Delivery: 25 days
Description: Men's performance wear; 95:5 modal-spandex; long sleeves; flatlock stitches; moisture-wicking, anti-microbial

Running shorts

Xiamen JV Industrial Co. Ltd

Model: JV11CY04
MOQ: 1,000 pieces
Delivery: 90 days
Description: Running shorts; 90:10 nylon-spandex; moisture-wicking, quick-dry; sizes S to XXXL

Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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