Chinese firms have risen from OEM sneaker makers to producers of world-renowned athletic goods

It took six months for French designer Sandra Romboli to get fully on board with the logic and rhythms at Chinese sportswear company Anta Group in Xiamen, Fujian province, in East China.

Romboli, who previously worked with sports international brands like Reebok and Adidas, said Anta is a company that is moving and changing fast.

She is now the creative director for sport style footwear in Anta.

Having been in China for about a year, Romboli said she found the Chinese footwear market “surprising by the quality and the amount of products”.

“In Europe, people are more loyal to brands and franchises. In China, consumers are loyal to a brand but they need freshness every time,” she said.

That’s a big change for Romboli although she has adapted quickly.

“For creative teams, we want to keep that motivation and confidence amid constant changes. That’s why we need clear and tangible directions one at a time.”

Bringing to the table some global experiences, storytelling techniques and methodologies she had used in big sportswear names, Romboli has gradually learned how to work with young creative teams, by “giving them the creative tools and directions, rather than telling them what to do.”

“In the Chinese culture, you have to gain respect,” said Romboli.”Humility, understanding and adaptability are the most important things to learn so far.”

Romboli is among a rising number of global professionals attracted to the Chinese sportswear conglomerate, which rose from a shoe maker founded in 1991 to an owner of world renowned sports brands including Fila, Salomon and Arc’ Teryx.

Currently, Anta has about 500 international employees. The company has used the best global professionals and resources to rejuvenate its domestic markets and attract younger consumers.

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