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Anta Sports to Acquire Chinese Athleisure Brand Maia Active

The Shanghai-based label, which frequently draws comparisons to Lululemon, is popular for female activewear and loungewear,
Three models on the beach hold a surfboard while wearing Maia Active clothes.
Maia Active is designed specifically for the Asian female figure. (Maia Active)

Leading Chinese sportswear group Anta Sports said it has agreed to acquire a majority stake in the female athleisure brand Maia Active, purchasing 75.13 percent of the start-up for an undisclosed amount.

Maia Active, which was founded in 2016 in Shanghai and sells premium-priced activewear designed especially for Asian females, will serve “as a valuable addition to the group’s female business segment,” Anta said. Anta Sports has a large portfolio of brands including namesake line Anta, skiwear brand Descente, and outdoor gear makers Arcteryx and Salomon, however are all brands that skew towards male shoppers. Maia Active would be its sole womenswear-dedicated brand.

“Anta really understands the market and has a competitive edge. You can see that with their various brands whether it’s Fila, Descente, Arcteryx, Kolon, or Salomon, they’re able to enhance each brand while still keeping each one’s distinctiveness,” Lisa Ou, cofounder of Maia Active, told BoF.

“I think that this year the market in China for women’s apparel still has a very good opportunity but as an independent brand there’s a lot of limitations,” Ou added. “We think that as an independent brand in such a competitive environment the volume of sales that we hope to do will be challenging.”

Although China’s consumer recovery has underperformed expectations, athleisure is a category that’s still expanding fast. A 2022 forecast from the International Trade Administration, a US government agency, said China’s sportswear market should grow at an annual rate of 11 percent reaching an estimated $82.8 billion by 2024. Lockdowns last year in China have only amplified a growing interest in wellness and healthier living across the nation.

However, that’s not to say market share in the category is not hard won as competition has intensified. After a cautious start eight years ago, Lululemon is flexing its resources in China to win over the country’s consumers. The athleisure giant’s CEO said in July it is aiming to build the country into its second largest market globally, tripling the number of stores it has there to 220 by 2026.

Maia Active has 40 stores and turns over 400 million yuan ($54.7 million) annually, according to Ou. Around 55 percent of its sales are derived from its family of hero products which include the Cloud material and its signature xiaoyaojing leggings, which are known for its flattering waist-hugging fit.

Learn More:

Chinese Sportswear Upstart Maia Active Raises $15.7 Million

The Shanghai-based, female-focussed sportswear brand has raised nearly 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) in a series C round of financing, led by Belle International, one of China’s largest footwear retailers.

Further Reading


About the author
Tiffany Ap

Tiffany Ap is Senior Correspondent at The Business of Fashion. She is based in New York and covers marketing and the critical China market.

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