BIZCHINA / Weekly Roundup

Big,bold & beautiful
By LU HAOTING (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-03 06:04

If you think high fashion is only for tiny, skinny women, then think again. At long last, the Chinese fashion industry is finally doing something to cater to full-figured consumers.

A small fashion show for plus-size women is expected to cause a stir at the upcoming 14th China International Clothing & Accessories Fair in Beijing this week.

Yang Fengjun and Ma Weibin, owners of Beijing Pangpangshow Clothing & Accessories Co Ltd, are busy decorating their 72-square metre booth at the China International Exhibition Centre, printing catalogues and handouts, taking pictures of pleasantly plump models sporting their latest designs, and hiring professionals to coach them on how to show off on the catwalk. Yang and Ma have spent nearly 1 million yuan (US$124,224) on their largest show since they entered the plus-size women's clothing business eight years ago.

"This fair is the largest fashion event in Asia. We want to show everybody what we have been promoting over the past several years and push China's plus-size fashion industry forward," Ma says.

"Our business fills an important niche by recognizing the fashion needs of women who have been largely ignored in the marketplace."

Size shouldn't matter, but it does for two clever enterpreneurs who have found their niche.

Facts and figures:
Company name: Beijing, Pangpangshow Clothing & Accessories Co Let
Number of employees: 110-190, depending on the season
Annual sales: Over 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) in 2005
Output: Over 200,000 units in 2005
Number of outlets: Six in Beijing, with about 200 franchisees and retailers throughout China

Ma is particularly confident about future business prospects because of increasing levels of obesity and eating disorders that have plagued individuals throughout China.

Chinese consumers are experiencing higher standards of living than ever before, but all the rich food that goes along with that is taking its toll on waistlines across the country. Chinese people are rapidly getting fatter and fatter.

More than 200 million people are overweight, or about 15 per cent of the nation's population. Nearly 7 per cent of the population, or 90 million people, are considered obese. In urban areas, up to 30 per cent of people are overweight, while 12.3 per cent are considered obese. Analysts estimate that over 200 million people will be struggling with obesity issues within the next 10 years.

Excessive meat consumption and high calorie foods are largely to blame.

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