Gao Dekang was educated locally. Gao started his career as a tailor in 1972, after graduating from high school.
It was a natural career choice for him because both his father and grandfather were tailors, and Gao proudly recalled the days when he could precisely assess customers’ sizes just by looking at them. Subsequently, he set up a factory in his hometown of Changshu, about 100 km from Shanghai, with eight sewing machines and 11 local people from the village. Every day Gao made a round trip to Shanghai to bring materials and supplies to his shop and to take finished garments to the city. One day he came across people waiting in line to buy winter coats on Nanjing Road. This suggested a good business opportunity, with huge potential. So Gao decided to learn firsthand how the business worked and began making down-coats for a Shanghai company in 1984. A decade later he incorporated his company, and after an initial failure to break into the northern market, he chose the name Bosideng, a transliteration of Boston, a US city known for its cold, snowy winters. He also streamlined his products, using his tailoring expertise to improve coat design and producing them in bright colors instead of drab blue or black. The company sold nearly all the 500 000 coats he made in 1995 and quickly became a market leader.
Encouraged by this initial success, Gao planned to take his company further with a bold marketing strategy. He approached the country’s General Sports Administration to sponsor the first Chinese gold medal winner at the 2006 Winter Olympics, Han Xiaopeng. In addition, Bosideng sponsored a climbing expedition to Qomolangma (Mount Everest) and an Antarctic exploration, which saw the company’s flag flying in the coldest places on the planet. In recent years, Gao has been shifting his corporate strategies to tackle climate change. He has worked on the design of his coats to make them not only more fashionable but also better for the environment with the use of new technologies in the garment industry. His company is currently working with a local research institute to make clothes that can be worn in different temperatures. The plan is to produce garments that can be labeled with the temperatures to which they are suited. The company also plans to grow its business beyond winter clothing. While the focus will still be on the Chinese market, Bosideng is also looking to further expansion in countries where it has a market share already, such as Russia and Canada.