Last updated on February 16th, 2024
Li-Ning, a Chinese athletic apparel company, is rapidly gaining popularity in the sportswear industry. Although it may not yet match the brand recognition and worth of Nike and Adidas, Li-Ning has made significant progress in the past few years and has the potential to rival these industry leaders in the future.
In regards to figures, the Chinese brand falls behind its more well-known competitors. According to Statista, both Nike and Adidas have a market value of USD34.8b (S$46.3b) and USD16.4b (S$21.9b) respectively. Li-Ning, on the other hand, has a market value of USD6.88b (S$9.05b), which is quite remarkable considering the fact that the company was only established in 1989.
A Sportswear Giant is Born in China
Established by Li Ning, a former Olympic gymnast, in 1990, the company has flourished over the course of thirty years and has become renowned in the world of sportswear. In 2019, this Chinese enterprise experienced an impressive 200 percent increase, propelling it to the forefront of the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.
Morgan Stanley attributes much of Li-Ning's triumph to the expanding sportswear industry in China. Consequently, the brand not only leads the way among clothing companies worldwide, but it consistently surpasses its renowned competitors in terms of stock market growth.
Li-Ning owes its triumph to its adept use of a proven approach in sports marketing. This entails joining forces with renowned sports leagues and securing endorsements from celebrated athletes. To date, the brand has forged alliances with the NBA and has engaged in prominent sporting spectacles such as the Olympics.
The brand from Beijing has also formed partnerships with international athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Jimmy Butler, and Dwyane Wade. Additionally, they have made progress in the fashion industry by introducing a streetwear collection only two years ago. Another factor contributing to the brand's success is their adaptability to current trends.
Wade and Li Ning Join Forces
There are clear similarities between Li-Ning and Nike in the world of sportswear. Nike completely changed the basketball sneaker industry by teaming up with Michael Jordan. Li-Ning seems to have taken a similar approach by partnering with Wade.
In 2012, the well-known point guard of the Miami Heat made headlines when he parted ways with the Jordan Brand and joined forces with a Chinese clothing company. Throughout their collaboration, the basketball player played a crucial role in the creation of basketball and everyday wear by the brand. Additionally, they collaborated on the development of Wade's distinctive basketball shoe, known as Way of Wade.
Similar to the collaboration between Jordan and Nike, Wade and Li-Ning have collaborated on multiple iterations of their basketball shoe. This partnership is set to continue for an extended period as well. In 2018, the player and the Chinese athletic apparel company signed a lifetime partnership agreement.
Following his retirement from professional basketball in 2019, the three-time NBA champion has dedicated his efforts to establishing the Way of Wade brand. In an effort to expand the brand's reach, he handpicked D'Angelo Russell from the Minnesota Timberwolves to serve as the brand's new representative on the court. Additionally, leveraging his connections in the hip-hop industry, he enlisted the iconic Miami figure, Rick Ross, as the brand's inaugural endorsed artist.
Li-Ning Future Development
Li-Ning has just introduced the newest addition to Wade's line, the Way of Wade 9. This state-of-the-art basketball shoe is equipped with the innovative BOA fit system and BOOM midsole technology.
The new sneakers boast a futuristic appearance, thanks to their advanced molecular design. However, they have sparked some debate due to their striking resemblance to previous Jordan shoes.
The Way of Wade 9 has drawn comparisons to the Air Jordan 2010, as well as the Air Jordan 34 and 35, according to certain critics. While this may be a topic of discussion, it is undeniable that the Way of Wade 9 is truly remarkable. Moreover, it excels in both on-court and off-court scenarios.
Wade's latest footwear will be available in two different styles: a low-top design with regular laces, and a high-top style without laces. These innovative shoes will not only expand Li-Ning's presence in the United States but also uphold its current market share.
China is a significant market for sneaker brands, with 300 million Chinese people playing basketball, according to the NBA. Li-Ning, a local brand, is making impressive progress in the sportswear industry, indicating that it will soon pose a formidable challenge to its more established competitors.