Adults in the 40-49 years age bracket have emerged as the biggest buyers of apparel in Korea, the Korea Federation of Textile Industries (KOFOTI) revealed today.

According to KOFOTI, a growing level of health consciousness has seen domestic sales of athletic apparel and leisurewear shoot up, with adults in their forties being the major customers.

The association said this trend had seen the older group outstrip fashion conscious young adults in their twenties and thirties in terms of apparel sales.

The findings reflect a poll of 2500 Korean households, which found that adults in their forties purchased an estimated KRW2.04 trillion worth of apparel between January and September last year.

If accurate, this would represent 27.4 per cent of total domestic apparel sales in Korea for the first three quarters of 2003.

By comparison, the group purchased KRW1.6 trillion worth of apparel in the same period of 2000, accounting for 19.6 per cent of total sales, while adults in their thirties made up for 23.2 per cent of the total.

"The drastic shift of buying powers by age groups is believed to be attributed to the sharp contraction in purchasing power of adults in their twenties and thirties who are the victims of a chronic youth unemployment and credit card debt default problems," a KOFOTI official said.

"In contrast, interests in fashion and leisure activities by adults in their 40s have grown rapidly lately, expanding their purchases of leisure wear like golf and mountain-climbing apparel."