Retail Trends - Athleisure
The following brief provides a trends forecast for the Athleisure market in the United States through 2020. It begins with an overview of the size of the athleisure market, proceeds to its projected growth and key demographic, then ends with discussions of retail and product trends within the athleisure space. The information is summarized from various industry related reports and studies.
The athleisure market in the United states
Athleisure, also known as Activewear, is now officially defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “casual clothing meant to be worn both for exercising and for general use.” According to Morgan Stanley Research estimates, the size of the athleisure market in the United States was $97 billion in 2015 which constituted 36% of the global activewear market. Their research further projects this market to grow an additional 30% by 2020. Furthermore, research from NPD Group suggests that despite overall apparel sales showing flat year-on-year growth of 2% in 2015, activewear rose 16%. This growth is being driven primarily by Millenials who believe in "relaxed clothing standards" and also happen to be the majority of the US population at 28%.
Retail Trends Forecast
The growth in popularity of athleisure will continue to encourage retailers to transform themselves into "lifestyle brands." As such more retailers will seek collaborations with influencers and celebrities to launch activewear lines as exemplified by partnerships like Kate Spade/Zara, Adidas/Kanye West and Ivy Park/Beyoncé. These celebrities have turned athleisure into a "fashion movement." Another example of this is the Kylie Jenner/Puma collaboration which increased Puma's social media engagement statistics by 25%.
As athleisure continues to become more mainstream, more fashion brands are entering the space and will continue to do so going forward. When Lululemon, an athleisure pioneer expanded from a $149 million company to $9 billion company in just 10 years, fashion brands like Tory Burch, Victoria’s Secret, and Paul Smith that traditionally did not focus on sportswear, launched activewear lines.
Retailers will also increasingly utilize social media as part of their athleisure campaigns. UnderArmour's #iwill campaign, supported by influencers like ballerina Misty Copeland and model Gisele Bundchen, propelled UnderArmour to be the number 2 "most valuable sportswear brand after Nike in 2014." Athleta's #PowerOfShe campaign garnered over 28,000 views and 20,000 influencer social media posts in a span of 3 months.
The athleisure space will see campaigns from high-end retailers that integrate cutting-edge wearable technology, lifestyle and aesthetics. This trend is exemplified by niche brands such as DYNE. The company's athleisure gear has "Near Field Communication" that keeps people "connected on the go."
As competitive pressures in the athleisure sector increase, retailers will continue to utilize more innovative customer engagement models such as in-store workout sections and fitness application demonstrations, to create unique experiences for customers. Brands such as Lululemon have pioneered this approach, offering in-store "complimentary classes." This concept can be also include in-store health food outlets.
Product Trends forecast
Demand for "seamless, breathable sports bras" will continue to be strong. Online searches for sports bras averaged 100,000 a week in 2016, which was an increase of 15% from a year earlier.
As the trend to spend on "activity-packed" holidays continues, demand for athleisure products like high-altitude activewear for mountain resorts will in turn continue to drive interest. Moncler's Grenoble "high performance sportswear" line, one of the first in this space, is designed for "extreme climates" and targets holiday makers. Other brands like Fendi, Chloé and Hermès have introduced "skiing and cross-fitting capsule collections."
Athleisure beauty products are poised to grow as beauty companies target the growing market fitness market. These products are marketed as "breathable natural makeup" that can cope with exercising sweat. Firms like Rae Cosmetics, Sweat Cosmetics and Tarte are at the forefront of this movement having launched their respective lines of athleisure makeup.
Research indicates that the premium denim jeans market will continue to benefit from the growing athleisure sector. Athleisure yoga-like jeans are in demand and will drive growth into 2020. Levi has taken note of this trend and has already made investments to pursue the opportunity.
Other products that will continue to be in demand include tracksuits, hoodies and leggings. People increasingly searched for these products online in 2016.
Fashion runways have popularized "femleisure" mesh athleisure products which saw a surge in online searches of 63% in 2015. The athleisure space will experience continued demand for femleisure products. Other activewear products popularized by fashion runways that will see continued interest include "oversized hoodies," dad hats and "bow slides."
Finally, the trend to emblazon products with logos and slogans is set to carry on. Brands such as Gucci and Ivy Park are successfully using this strategy.
The $97 billion US athleisure market is projected to grow 30% by 2020 driven by Millenials. Athleisure retail trends through 2020 include retailers transforming into lifestyle brands, more fashion brands introducing athleisure lines and innovative in-store customer engagements. Athleisure products that will drive demand into 2020 include sports bras, extreme climate activewear, athleisure beauty products, premium denim jeans, "femleisure" products and athleisure products emblazoned with logos and slogans.