Three Guns is one of the most enduring Chinese clothing brands, and a successful collaboration with Disney is taking the company to ever greater heights. Wang Ying reports.
A logo featuring three guns has dominated the Chinese underwear market for decades, but few people know the origins of the famous brand. cotton drawstring bag
The brand was created in 1928 by Gan Tinghui, a keen sports marksman. After winning two consecutive shooting championships, Gan registered the clothing brand Double Guns.
With knitting machines and cotton imported from the United Kingdom, the factory, with about 10 staff, produced high-quality cardigans, sleeveless garments, gloves, scarves, Russian-style hats and more. cotton drawstring bag
Double Guns constantly received orders from major companies in Shanghai and even from Southeast Asian regions. The business quickly expanded. cotton drawstring bag
Gan won his third shooting championship in 1936, and a year later he renamed the brand Three Guns. He also started boycotting Japanese goods as that was the year the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out. cotton drawstring bag
Many Chinese picked up on the patriotic meaning of the brand which helped Three Guns quickly become a best-selling brand in Shanghai and in neighboring provinces. cotton drawstring bag
Grow bigger after 1949
The company, known as the Yingyin Textile Factory, did not downsize or vanish like many privately-owned enterprises did after 1949; instead, in 1953, it merged with more than 10 smaller factories. In 1958 it was incorporated with 24 textile companies. cotton drawstring bag
After the consolidation, the Yingyin Textile Factory had 917 employees, more than 1 million yuan in fixed assets, and 240 sewing machines. Its products were shipped to Russia, Eastern Europe, Hong Kong and later, Japan. cotton drawstring bag
After four years of research and development, the company launched its special fabric products in 1965. The fabric, made from two strings of cotton thread, is resilient and warm. It is called "shining colored cotton and woolen fabric" because of its shiny look. cotton drawstring bag
A total of 300,000 items made from this special fabric were produced in 1965, and that number soared 59 percent to 482,100 in 1985. In the 1980s, the product was extremely popular across the nation, and retailers would carry gunny bags of cash to pay the down payment of the orders. cotton drawstring bag
The output of the fabric product doubled in five years to reach 961,000 in 1990, and further rose to 2.3 million within two years.
In the early 1990s, the company underwent a new round of mergers and restructuring, during which it acquired nine medium-sized factories. It was officially renamed the Shanghai Three Guns Group in 1994. cotton drawstring bag
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At the same time, the company also made several changes in the production and sales strategy, such as shifting from outerwear to underwear, from export to domestic, and from chemical fiber to pure cotton fabrics.
After these transformations, Three Guns' exports shrank from being half of its output to less than 5 percent, and they developed a wider variety of products and new fabrics. The Three Guns' Industrial City, established in 2000, added more functions to the group, including designing, logistics, high-end manufacturing and purchasing. cotton drawstring bag
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