Press Releases

Due to the recent and expected continuation of growth in the sportswear market in China, the country’s surveillance authorities have started to increase their spot-checking of sporting garments, especially for the items’ functional properties.

Growth Market – And More Complaints
China’s sportswear market has grown quickly in recent years, with market research1 assessing the value at USD 25.3 billion in 2015. This growth is expected to continue to USD 43.1 billion by 2020 and so international sportswear brands are moving fast to take advantage. However, these companies need to be aware of the increased intensity of the authorities’ examination of such products and the public’s refusal to accept false claims.

In 2016, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) began to publish the China Consumer Protection Annual Report. According to the report, there were 83,400 complaints about clothing, shoes and hats in 2015 and 44,700 complaints related to quality.

Some of these complaints concerned clothing that falsely claimed special functions such as moisture absorption and quick-drying properties, or anti-bacterial and anti-UV capabilities. According to the new Advertising Law published on September 1 2015, it is illegal to advertise a functional property of clothing if there is no relevant performance results for that declared function.

The Shanghai Consumer Protection Committee performed comparative tests on sportswear products that claimed quick moisture absorption and quick-drying functions2. Among the 50 selected samples, 10 failed to meet the requirements (see Table 1 below) for water absorption or quick-drying in the recommended standard: GB/T 21655.1-2008 Textiles-Evaluation of absorption and quick-drying-Part 1: Method for combination tests.

Table 1. Absorption and Quick-drying Testing Requirements


Test parameters

(before and after washing)



Moisture Absorption1

Water Absorption Rate /%



Drip Diffusion Time /s



Wicking Height3 /mm




Evaporation Rate / (g/h)



Water Vapor Transmission / g/(m2 • d)]




1. For products with absorption function, only water absorption rate, drip diffusion rate and wicking height are assessed

2. For products with quick-dry function, only evaporation rate and water vapor transmission are assessed

3. Wicking height assessment is based on the larger value between lengthwise and crosswise direction

Imported Functional Sportswear

Between April and October 2015, the Chinese authorities performed random checks of both import and export commodities that were not on the list of products requiring inspection. These items included home textiles, children's clothing, general clothing and functional sportswear.

A total of 6,703 batches of imported and exported goods were spot-checked and the failure rates of the inspected items are in Figure 1.

Failure Rate of Spot Checked Imported Goods

Similar spot checks were performed from April 2016 to October 2016. For imported functional wear, the product types inspected and the tests performed are shown in Table 2:

Table 2: Types of Functional Sportswear and Test Standards for 2016 spot checks

Product description

Test Items

Test Standard

Moisture management clothing

Absorption and quick-drying

GB/T 21655.1-2008, GB/T 21655.2-2009

UV protection clothing

UV resistance

GB/T 18830-2009

Antibacterial clothing

Antibacterial function

GB/T 20944.1 to 3 - 2007

Water resistant/proof clothing

Water repellency/water proof

GB/T 4745-2012, GB/T 4744-2013

For goods that are declared to be unqualified, the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) may ask the importer to take remedial action. In addition, the examination of similar unqualified goods will be strengthened and local governments and relevant departments will be asked to monitor the quality of frequently unqualified import and export goods at different ports. AQSIQ will also publish the spot-check results to raise consumer awareness about unqualified goods3.

One of the main reasons for the high failure rate of imported functional wear is the difference between the methods and requirements of China’s product standards compared to other international standards. If imported goods have only been tested to commonly-used international standards and not to China’s specific product standards, they may not meet the local requirements.

New Product Standard for Outdoor Sportswear – Water Resistant Garment

China is developing product standards specifically for functional wear such as the recently published Product Standard for Outdoor Sportswear – Water Resistant Garment.

On April 25 2016, the China Sports Goods Technical Committee of Standardization published a new product standard: GB/T 32614-2016 Outdoor Sportswear – Water Resistant Garment. This standard came into effect on November 1 2016 and includes requirements for fiber content, general product safety, physical performance and as shown in Table 3, functional performance.

Table 3: Functional Performance Requirements in GB/T 32614-2016


Test Items/Method


Grade 1

Water repellency, spray rating/ GB/T 4745

Before washing


After 3 washes


Water proof, hydrostatic head/ GB/T 4744

Before washing

fabric ≥50KPa, seam ≥40KPa

After 3 washes

fabric ≥40KPa, seam ≥30KPa

Water vapor transmission/ GB/T 12704.2

Before washing

≥5,000 g/ (m2 24h)

After 3 washes

≥4,000 g/ (m2 24h)

Grade 2

Water repellency, spray rating/ GB/T 4745

Before washing


After 3 washes

Not required

Water proof, hydrostatic head/ GB/T 4744

Before washing

fabric ≥30KPa, seam ≥25KPa

After 3 washes

fabric ≥20KPa, seam ≥15KPa

Water vapor transmission/ GB/T 12704.2

Before washing

≥3,000 g/ (m2 24h)

After 3 washes

≥2,000 g/ (m2 24h)

Products must be evaluated for the above performance before and after washing, with the Grade claim shown on the product label. If it is not claimed, the Grade I requirement should be met. GB/T 32614 does not have a period of transition.

How SGS can help

Functional sportswear sold in China must now meet new functional performance requirements as well as general mandatory safety, labeling and quality standards.

SGS is helping international sportswear brands to understand the specific functional performance requirements in China’s national product standards and any other applicable requirements and to ensure their products meet them.

For more information contact your local SGS representative, or our global team and visit our website.

Karen E. Kyllo, Ph.D.

Deputy Vice President, Global Softlines

SGS North America Inc.



About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.


1. Global Sportswear Market with Focus on China: Trends & Opportunities(2015-2019), Research and Markets, 2015

2. Shanghai Consumer Protection Committee

3. AQSIQ news