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World Cup spurs sales of colourful wigs

Orders for wigs from Jifa Group in Jimo city of East China's Shandong province soar as the FIFA World Cup draws near. (Yu Fangping for China Daily)

Publication Date : 03-06-2014


The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil kicks off in nine days and fans worldwide are gearing up to cheer their teams on. Colourful sport wigs are always on their purchase list and the surge in orders for them at a major manufacturer in China proves it.

"Thanks to the World Cup, orders for sport wigs have gone up by 20 per cent in the past two months," said Liang Xiaopeng, a spokesman at Jifa Group Holdings Co Ltd, a 60-year-old hair product and garment manufacturer in Qingdao's Jimo city, East China's Shandong province.

Inside the plant, the colours of the various wigs make it resemble a big summer garden. "Many colours represent national flags. This Brazil wig is designed in three layers - blue, yellow and green," Liang said.

The company produces more than 200 varieties of fun wigs, with half of them designed in house. The other half is made in accordance to clients' custom requirements, he said.

Sport wigs and other colourful hairy headgear are designed to help set the ambiance of an event. Apart from sporting events, festivals like Halloween and major carnivals also stimulate sales.

"Young people always love to wear fun wigs to show their team spirit and stand out from the crowd," he said.

Liang said the company sells 150,000 wigs each year. Usually sport wigs and costume-party wigs account for a small portion, 20,000 to 30,000. Liang said he expects that to be about 50,000 this year as sales soar when there's a big event. To meet demand, 2,000 people work full-time at the factory.

Jifa's wigs are mainly sold in the US and Europe at an average retail price of US$20 to $30. Sun Yongwei, Jifa's production manager, said sport wigs are usually made of chemical fibers instead of human hair to lower the cost. Human-hair wigs could cost hundreds of dollars.

The Northern Hemisphere is entering summer so wig designers chose light-net foundations to ensure air permeability.

"Chemical-fiber wigs should not be worn for more than three consecutive hours or people will become uncomfortable," Sun told China Daily. "But human-hair wigs can easily be worn much longer, and they won't deform for months, or even one or two years."

Producing wigs requires more than 30 separate processes, including making the foundation, hair preparation and styling.

Several key steps must be done manually, such as adding hair to the foundation with hooks. A stylist will then comb and trim the wig as if working on a real head. It takes several years to become a skilled wig technician.

Most human-hair wigs are sold at stores, and specialized hair parlors and salons because they often require fitting and further adjusting. Wigs are becoming increasingly popular as a fashion accessory because many celebrities - such as singer Lady Gaga and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing - wear them.

Although Jifa Group has grown by building a more diversified product portfolio and with high-tech inventions such as high-liquid absorption chitosan fiber extracted from shrimp or crab shells to produce absorbable sutures, wigs are what the company started with, and the company is still a dominant force in the industry, said Liang.

Overseas sales of its hair products reached $5 million last year, and the company controls two-thirds of the world's male wig market, he said.

Ma Weixin contributed tothis story.


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