President Xi Jinping’s choice of a cobalt blue parka to protect himself against the cold this week sharply boosted the stock price of the Chinese company that owns the Canadian outdoor clothing brand. The president wore the high-end Arc’teryx winter coat while inspecting venues of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the mountains north of Beijing. The parkas are advertised on Arc’teryx’s international website for US$1,000. Images of Xi keeping warm in the designer attire were splashed across news bulletins, but barely caused a ripple on social media because of the brand’s elite urban customer base. However, its impact was felt on the Hong Kong stock market, with the share price of Anta Group – which owns Arc’teryx, based in North Vancouver, British Columbia – rising by nearly 10 per cent on Tuesday. Xi’s entourage wore heavy down and waterproof jackets that displayed the logo of Anta – an official sponsor of the 2022 Games. Anta – which has supplied the Chinese Olympic team for the previous eight years, including dressing the team for the Rio 2016 Olympics – will provide Chinese athletes and Olympic staff with sports apparel for the games. The Arc’teryx Thorsen Parka favoured by Xi has garnered a large following among affluent Chinese urban consumers because of its light weight, length, lean design, generous down insulation and waterproof Gore-Tex exterior. Xi checks Olympics progress amid boycott calls and Covid-19 outbreak Since he came to power, Xi has favoured Western-style clothing over the buttoned-up Mao tunics worn by previous leaders. This is less a fashion statement than an example of his “can do”, businesslike style. Xi is mostly seen in a simple jacket paired with white, open-necked shirts and pants. This is not the first time the Chinese leader has been spotted wearing Anta clothing. In 2017, during a tour of Zhangjiakou in China’s northern Hebei province, also to inspect Winter Olympics preparations, he wore one of the company’s down jackets. That was seen in southern Fujian province, where Anta and other domestic sportswear brands have their headquarters, as a presidential endorsement of local sportswear brands. “These entrepreneurs said this demonstrated General Secretary Xi’s encouragement and support for China’s sporting goods companies,” the newspaper Fujian Daily reported, using Xi’s other title – Communist Party general secretary. There’s no doubting the national pride in Anta’s success, which grew from humble beginnings in the early 1990s in Jinjiang, Fujian, selling cheap sports shoes to become China’s No 1 sportswear brand – although it still ranks behind foreign brands Nike and Adidas in revenue terms in the country. The company was largely unknown outside China until 2019, when it bought Finland-based Amer Sports – owner of a portfolio of sportswear brands including Wilson, Salomon, Peak Performance, and Arc’teryx – for US$5.2 billion. Chinese fashion designers have a head start in pivot to home market It was one of the most significant acquisitions by a Chinese company of international sporting and outdoor equipment brands, and followed a flurry of deals by Chinese companies for international fashion and luxury companies, such as as Fosun’s acquisition of fashion house Lanvin , according to Jing Daily, a digital publication on luxury trends in China. Anta Group has its sights set on replacing Nike as the number one sportswear brand in China. It currently has a 15 per cent share of China’s sportswear market – worth US$43 billion annually – but is still well behind Adidas, with 20 per cent, and Nike, with 23 per cent, according to a recent report by US digital media platform Fair Observer. With the president’s recent unspoken endorsement and its role as Olympics sponsor, Anta Group’s wish could well come true.