China is drafting a national standard for the thermal underwear industry in a bid to stop the current chaos in the market, according to the China Knitwear Association.

Thermal underwear, introduced to China in 1998, is now a mature market and competition has hit an all-time high. According to X&L Marketing Services, thermal underwear manufacturers have spent at least 140m yuan ($17m) on television advertising during the period between January and October this year, 86 times more than that spent in the same period last year.

Meanwhile the industry is coming across some serious problems, which experts have warned could have a negative impact on the industry. Without a national quality standard, it is impossible to solve these problems, said Lin Guangxing, deputy secretary-general of the China Knitwear Association.

Many products sold in the market only provide the function of heat-preservation and do not adequately provide other functions thermal underwear should have, such as ventilation, the ability to discharge humidity and softness.

Gaps also exist in the system used to measure the heat-preservation quality of thermal underwear. A test launched by the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision shows that some products can preserve 61.9 per cent of body heat, while other products can only preserve 48.4 per cent. Exaggerated advertisements have also flooded television screens.

Some manufacturers are boasting that one suit of thermal underwear is as warm as three wool sweaters, a fact experts have deemed impossible. Oversupply is another serious problem. "This is not good for the healthy development of a newly-emerging industry," said Lin.