With the upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing and a growing consumer market, sportswear brands are fiercely battling it out in China to find the right mix of Western and Chinese elements in their designs. The Wall Street Journal profiles the efforts of Nike and Adidas, two of the biggest players who are experimenting with new design elements such as Chinese characters, images, colors and athletes to find that uniquely “Chinese” style.

Nike has recently introduced a new line called 1984, which commemorates the first year China participated in the Olympics under the Communist government. Nike is also playing on nationalistic sentiment with its slogan of 起来前进 (“rise and advance”), a phrase frequently used to describe China’s development over the past 50 years. In terms of spokesmen, Nike’s face for the Olympics is Liu Xiang, the gold medal hurdler and one of the most familiar faces on the streets of Shanghai. Other sponsored athletes are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Yi Jianlian, tennis player Li An and swimmer Wu Peng.

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