In 2015, a new trend called Athleisure (casual clothing meant to be worn both for exercising and for general use) was born. Since its introduction to the fashion industry three years ago brands from Lululemon to Target have embraced this trend and profited from it. The investment firm Morgan Stanley has predicted a growth to $83 billion by 2020. Similarly, Euromonitor International predicts a further 17 percent growth by 2021 to £640 billion ($869 billion), proving this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
The athleisure trend has largely been driven by millennials who are health conscious and focused on the social, community element of sports activities rather than the competitiveness side of these activities. You can read more about the connection between athleisure and social media here.
Why is this trend so popular? Firstly, the athleisure trend filled a gap in the marketplace, where clothing was functional but not necessarily stylish. It also appealed to women who for years had been ignored by activewear brands as a potential customer segment. “In the past women had to take hand-me-downs from the men’s wardrobe and make them work,” says Matt Powell, sports industry analyst at the NPD Group. Now, more women are buying into this sector as they are becoming more invested in self-transformation and wellness. According to Nicole Vollebregt, Adidas’ first Global Head of Women’s Products, “women are the biggest growth opportunity for Adidas and our women’s business is currently growing faster than men’s.” Other mainstream sportswear players like Nike and Under Armour have also been quick to recognize this shift and have begun to appeal to this new segment by featuring women in their marketing campaigns and developing lines that women want to wear.
Source: Instagram (@outdoorvoices)
Since athleisure reflects a lifestyle shift, it is unlikely it will disappear soon. But, as more players enter this industry and drive down prices there are questions on whether it is on the brink of saturation. With this threat of oversaturation, innovation is now becoming a key factor to survive and thrive in this market. The cult activewear brand Outdoor Voices is leading the way in innovation with its high-performance, tech-infused materials. We’re eager to see how other activewear brands will tackle the challenge of being innovative in this already saturated industry. Watch this space!