Jinjiang gets on the map as China’s sports shoe capital as Anta, Xtep and 361 Degrees snap up global athletic brands
- With a population of fewer than 2 million people, Jinjiang is home to as many as 5,000 shoe producers, employing one in every three local residents
- The county is home to three of China’s four largest sports shoes makers Anta, Xtep and 361 Degrees, all led by executives sharing the same surname
Running through the north of Jinjiang city in Fujian province is Xiedulu, or Shoe Capital Road, an 11.5-kilometre, an artery that reminds visitors they are in the beating heart of China’s production hub for footwear. Here, a wholesale market covering 10 building blocks is packed with thousands of producers, designers, and vendors selling everything needed to cobble together a pair of shoes, from Velcro straps and laces to rubber soles, pattern printers and presses. Four giant, red characters atop the main building proclaim Jinjiang as China’s “shoe capital”, claiming the honour as long ago as 2001.
Shoes of all types and designs are made along China’s seacoast from Wenzhou in Zhejiang to Dongguan in Guangdong, but it is Jinjiang – where Adidas and Nike based their China factories starting in the 1980s – that dominates China’s production of sports shoes and trainers.
“Jinjiang is very special. Back then everyone was making sports shoes, mainly because Nike opened a factory here, so it created this environment,” said Ding Shuipo, founder and CEO of Xtep International Holdings. “I was one of them too. This has made [Jinjiang] the biggest producer of sports shoes for the domestic market.”
With a population of fewer than 2 million people, Jinjiang is home to as many as 5,000 shoe producers, employing one in every three local residents. The county churned out about 100 billion yuan (US$15 billion) of products in 2017, equivalent to 20 per cent of China’s market for footwear.
It is home to three of China’s four largest sportswear brands: Anta Sports, Xtep and 361 Degrees International. They stand out in this tight-knit community, armed with years of experience having made shoes for Adidas and Nike and billions of yuan of capital from their listings on the Hong Kong exchange. Now they are poised to claim their place in the world market.