Numerous Chinese apparel companies have started to take notice of the potential of esports –– both nationally and globally. We have seen the likes of Li-Ning partner with multiple teams, such as Newbee and EDward Gaming. However, one of the best examples of a company moving into the esports clothing market in China has been ONWEAR.
Founded in 2017, ONWEAR is a B2B apparel company based in the Guangdong Province, which focuses on producing customised esports jerseys and apparel for organisations. It has produced esports jerseys for over 60 teams including FPX Esports, eStar Gaming and Keen Gaming. Although it is not the first company operated by ONWEAR’s COO, Yu Chen, it is the most meaningful and valuable to him.
Chen was passionate about watching esports and started to organise esports leagues when he was in high school. In 2013, he noticed that almost all semi-professional or amateur esports teams didn’t have proper jerseys.
Inspired by his family’s apparel business and Western esports tournaments, Chen discovered that team jerseys could be hugely beneficial to promote brand identity and for marketing.
“I think the apparel industry is a fantastic industry. When I organised esports leagues, the annual budget on apparel accounted for 10% or more of the total budget, said, Chen.
“This is a huge number, and I was thinking if I can provide apparel for the esports industry, maybe I can do better and create a new opportunity for the industry.”
After discussing with numerous traditional sportswear suppliers about the feasibility of producing customised esports apparel, Chen and his business partner established ONWEAR.
Unlike other apparel companies, ONWEAR focused on developing both B2B and B2C business from the beginning. According to their market research, they discovered that Chinese esports fans prefer to buy esports peripherals and low-cost supporting products like banners and wristband, rather than team jerseys.
Besides analysing the target market, Chen and his team also focused on improving the quality of esports apparel. In their design, they integrated Western esports standards with Chinese esports culture to produce exclusive customised apparel for customers.
“Maybe everyone thinks that apparel business has low return profits, but it is not the case. Although the price-per-piece of apparel is not high, mass-produced apparel will have large number of profits.
“At that moment, we were trying to solve the pain points of the esports apparel industry, which means we should produce custom team jerseys for each esports organisation.”
At present, ONWEAR has become the largest esports apparel brands in mainland China, and it seems to be the only brand that focuses on producing customised esports clothing and accessories.
As of 2019, they produce esports wear for 40% of Chinese PUBG teams and have developed new ranges to meet customer demands. More recently, they signed a partnership with KOC·EBA Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area City to expand the business in more cities.
“We’ve believed in the development of esports from the beginning. With the improvement of public awareness to esports, I believe that Chinese esports will be better in the future.
“For ONWEAR, we have changed the overall image of Chinese esports teams from some aspects. Now, you can see more unified team jerseys in the semi-professional esports leagues, which has never been seen before.”
“For ONWEAR, we have changed the overall image of Chinese esports teams”
Regarding their plans for the future, ONWEAR will continue to be dedicated to producing their clothing and accessories. The product development will focus on developing functional esports apparel such as gear for protecting the wrist and arm from sports injuries.
Besides product development, ONWEAR continues to expand business in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and gradually move into the international market.
Chen and his team have set the goal to produce items for all Chinese esports teams; from the grassroots to the top level.
“While cooperating with many outstanding esports organisations, we are also actively supporting the emerging esports teams in the industry. I believe there will be more competitors in the future.
“For us, it is a challenge, but it also motivates us to work harder. Although we are an explorer in the esports apparel industry, I believe we will become the business card of Chinese esports apparel in the future.”
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ONWEAR. You can find out more about them HERE.