Retail - Innovative companies in sportswear and apparel retail.
The most innovative companies in sportswear and apparel retail are Amazon, Bonobos, Stitch Fix, Adidas, and Nike. Over the next five years, apparel will continue to be the most popular e-commerce category in the United States. It is predicted that by 2022, 25% of the country’s malls will have shut down. By 2026, various platforms across both apparel retail and sportswear will have changed. The trends include a steep rise in mobile shopping (m-commerce), retail stores to pop-up in hotels, cars, and the consumer’s home, shopping help by using big data, customers becoming designers of their own apparel, and brands will launch new clothing lines all year long.
After an extensive search through industry reports and other trusted media sites, we found that there are no definitive lists of the most innovative sportswear and apparel retail companies. However, we found expert sites that listed the most innovative companies belonging to various industries. We reviewed each list to short-list companies that belong in the space of sportswear and apparel retail. With a thorough search, we have also compiled the trends that are expected to hit this market in the next 2 to 5 years and future trends expected to happen in the next 5 years and beyond.
Most innovative companies
According to LS Retail, Amazon is known to be a great disruptor of the retail space. Fast Company has named Amazon as the “most innovative company of 2017”. Amazon has been changing the retail industry platform over the past decade. The retail giant has always been in the process of finding new and improved ways to provide its customers with an experience characterized by convenience and speed. It was Amazon that succeeded in making one-day delivery as an industry standard and went on to create retail’s best loyalty programs. Currently, Amazon is expanding its physical presence in the form of pop-up stores and bookstores around the country. They have succeeded in launching Prime Wardrobe where their customers have the ability to feel, touch, and try on apparel before purchasing them.
Bonobos has risen to the top with its innovative physical retail stores called “Guideshops”. They have numerous guideshops across the nation where customers can touch, feel, and try on the apparel of their choice before purchasing them. Customers make their order in-store, after which the items are shipped to them on the following day. This engaging and innovative model provides their customers with a unique shopping experience.
3. Stitch Fix:
This company has made shopping extremely convenient for their customers who lack the patience and the time to look for apparel in stores or online. Stitch Fix creates a detailed profile for their new customers which allows the company to determine the best style of clothing that would suit the customer within a specific budget.
This sportswear giant is a leader where customer experience is concerned. Adidas’ products, channels, and services are optimized with the focus on the “consumer-obsessed mindset”, according to Herbert Hainer, the company’s’ former CEO. Through the many years, Adidas has always been a front-runner in innovation by integrating its products and stores with the latest and advanced technology. The company has succeeded in creating brand desire and engagement with its customers. Over the past few years, Adidas has created “shoppable windows”, through which their consumers can view, browse, and shop for products when the store is closed. They have also incorporated body scanners into the customer’s shopping experience where one can try on apparel virtually. The retail giant has also introduced 3D-printed sneakers into their list of innovative products, thereby becoming a pioneer in customization of shoes. Adidas is primarily focused on making retail more engaging, personal, and convenient for its consumers.
According to Nike’s North America communications director, Matthew Kneller, Nike focuses on energizing moments with distinctive products, experiences, and pop-up launches. The company works on combining the right ratio of “sport, creativity, style, and design” in order to provide their customers with “pinnacle innovative experiences”. The company launched its “Sneakeasy” event series in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles, featuring Nike-inspired art and experiences in 2017. Through the series, Nike showcased their latest limited-edition designs. Nike is also known for integrating the latest technology into its products, like power-lacing sneakers.
— Retail stores are undergoing a transformation to attract and expand their consumer base by incorporating the latest technology. In-store experiences are the current focus where numerous brands are incorporating smart dressing rooms, personal shoppers, and a more engaging showroom.
— Innovative companies like Nike are pushing the boundary in combining technology and products like custom-lacing Hyper Adapt sneakers.
— Companies are also using analytics (historical data+current trends) to decide which products to purchase and distribute.
— Companies are utilizing social media to promote and increase brand awareness.
Trends in the next 5 years
— Apparel is currently the most popular e-commerce category in the United States. In the next 5 years, online apparel and accessories will continue to dominate the retail industry.
— The sale of apparel and accessories are predicted to rise to $116.3 billion in the year 2021 and $123.4 billion in the year 2022.
— According to Credit Suisse, a global financial service company, 25% of malls in the United States is predicted to shut down by the year 2022, due to the increase in e-commerce shopping.
Trends beyond the next 5 years
— According to Elle, by 2026, concept shopping called m-commerce (mobile commerce) is predicted to rise, where customers will use their smartphones as the primary means of shopping online. Christina Mercando, the founder of Ringly, believes in trying on apparel in-store, make the purchase on the smartphone, and have the items delivered by the time one reaches home.
— Retailers will continue to change the platform of their physical presence where they will strive to provide something unique and complementary to its e-commerce stores. Brands that become successful in 2026 will probably engage in unconventional physical stores like retail being combined with Airbnbs and Ubers, according to Matthias Metternich, the CEO, and founder of Cocodune. It is also predicted that brands will take their merchandise to the customer’s home where they can try on the items at ease.
— Big Data will also play a large role in the future of apparel and sportswear retail. It is predicted that Big Data will be able to anticipate the exact needs and style that a customer would want to buy.
— Customers will take the forefront in terms of apparel design with brands. The relationship between apparel brands and consumers is predicted to become very engaging in a way where the consumers can design (personalized products) their own garments based on personal preferences. According to Ivan Poupyrev, the technical project lead of Google’s ATAP, in 2026, people would download designs on their computers and then print them out using 3D printers at the comfort of their homes.
— E-commerce apparel sales are predicted to rise from the current 17% of overall transactions to 35.7% during the next 15 years.
— Fast-fashion and off-price retail amount to 20% of today’s apparel industry sales which is projected to rise to 30% over the next decade.
— Athleisure, which is a combination of athletic wear and business casual, is a new category of apparel that has attracted numerous people in the United States. According to Todd Snyder, J.Crew’s former head of menswear, predicts that athleisure “is not going to go away for at least 10 years”. This category of apparel might be symbolic of the larger cultural trends in the country which includes the ever-increasing focus on fitness and health.
— It is predicted that “the future of fashion will be seasonless” where brands will be able to create products that will stand out as a single release.
— By 2026, customers will look for the entire shopping experience to be seamless across the numerous connected devices. They will expect convenience and speed to be the characteristics of focus.
— In the future, augmented reality will be a primary aspect that will take over virtual reality and will hold an important place in retail.
To wrap up, the most innovative companies in apparel and sportswear retail are Amazon, Bonobos, Stitch Fix, Adidas, and Nike. The trends over the next 5 years include the continued dominance of apparel in e-commerce shopping and the reduction in the country’s shopping malls by 25%. In 2026, the trends to look out for are increased shopping through smartphones, pop-up retail stores in cars, hotels, and consumers’ homes, seasonless fashion, customers becoming designers, and shopping with the help of big data.