Athleticwear is the latest trend

And not just at the gym.

Athleticwear is the latest trend

Defined as clothing that can be worn for exercising and for general use, the fashion trend, best known as athleisure, has taken the apparel industry by storm.

Which means:

Consumers are searching for an outfit that they can take from studio to street; without looking like they just walked out of a spin class. Both Vogue and The New York Times have recognized athleisure as both a rising trend that encompasses functionality, style, and comfort all in one; and as a culture shift.

Why has Athleisure taken the apparel world by storm?

For one thing: You can’t wear jeans to work.

Styles synonymous with comfort, like a jeans and tee combo, are considered weekend wear. Wearing your most comfortable pair of denim into a board meeting just doesn’t work.

Sure, you’re probably thinking that you shouldn’t wear athleticwear in the office either – but here’s the thing:

Coming in a wide range of cuts, colors, and styles; yoga pants can pass as a form-fitting work pant. Betabrand, for example, produces a dress yoga pant line built to add to the wardrobe of working woman.

Athleisure has become a part of high fashion.

Alexander Wang, renowned New York fashion designer, released a collaboration with Adidas in the fall of 2016 – surprising the fashion industry; according to Ashley Armstrong of Telegraph.

Nordstorm is working with Beyoncé on Ivy Park, Carrie Underwood created Calia – sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kate Hudson has partnered with Fabletics. Collaborations with celebrities have become a part of the norm in order to break into the athleticwear market. The celebrity promotes a certain ideal and lifestyle that consumers can relate to. (Who doesn’t want to be like the queen, Beyoncé?)

On top of that:

Millennials and Generation Z are more focused on versatility and health in their daily lives. EDITED, a key reporter on the apparel market, points to an increase in a “wellness” mindset; one that is highly promoted through the ranks of social media.

The Telegraph specifically links the rise to “an Instagram-led cult around healthy living and ‘clean eating’, which has spurred 128,384 ‘athleisure’ posts of so-called ‘yoga bunnies’ posing in lycra, clutching green juices.”

This is the culture shift.

It is not enough to just work out at the gym – you must promote that being healthy is a part of your core values. And the way to do this is through investing in pieces that reflect form and style while promoting flexability.

Manufacturing and design technologies have experienced athleisure growth.

Athleticwear is built with performance in mind – we know that – but what this means is; manufacturers are constantly striving to find the next enhancement that will elevate a fashion basic.

A recent article out of Fashionating World explores a new sew-free bonding agent offered by Bemis.

The goal is to create apparel that works as a second skin; allowing the wearer to feel less restricted. Other advances include the ability to reduce bulk in the design, waterproof the material, and allow for breathability by using natural fibers.

All of these advances have one purpose; to compete in a market expected to reach $117 billion by the end of 2020 in North America alone.

So what does this mean for the apparel market?

Simply; big brands who produce fashion basics need to take notice.

Levis Jeans, for example, has had to reimagine their iconic brand. Tim Higgins of Bloomberg provides insight into how Levis is trying to adapt to the yoga pants era.

“The company, founded in 1853, has survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, and other epochal threats, but in the last two years it’s been tormented by an enemy none of its executives saw coming: yoga pants.”

While athleisure brand top-dog Lululemon has experienced unprecedented growth; brands like Levis haven’t been so lucky.

The brand was losing steam, especially in women’s apparel. In 2014 it was time to accept that athleisure was not fad. Yoga pants and other athleticwear had become – and will remain – a fashion staple.

In order to keep up, Levis decided they needed a change.

Keeping up at a jogging pace:

Not wanting to break into a new market; Levis design teams started dissecting everything from lingerie to wetsuits. This is where both fashionablity and functionality came in to play.

The goal was to develop a material that allowed for the comfort found in yoga pants, while keeping the design integrity of denim.

The outcome:

The 700 series jeans . Offering stretch denim designed to flatter, hold and lift; the 700 series offers consumers a jean that moves with their body.

This goes to show that consumers expect a product that offers new and delighting styles; and are seeking out the latest technologies in apparel. Fashionating World broke down a recent Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey showing that the better the apparel technology; the more a customer is willing to invest in the piece.

graphic with percentages of how much consumers are willing to pay for and seeking

Athleisure is boosting dwindling apparel sales.

According to the NPD group; consumers spent $323 billion on apparel, footwear, and accessories in 2014. Forbes points to a dramatic growth in the sales of activewear as the primary cause for growth.

On the same note:

Morgan Stanley, in a recent note to investors, suggested that those invested in athletic apparel still had growth potential. Based on their analytics; the activewear industry could add $83 billion in sales in the next 3 years. This is in part due to a rising middle class in the Asian Pacific; however Morgan Stanley highlights that “athleisure has tapped into a coolness feedback loop where new designs and technology keep driving new interest. It’s just really comfortable, they say, and so long as it’s socially acceptable to wear it, people will.”

Even with potential market slowdowns, Morgan Stanley has a similar prediction to the NPD group which is; growth. A growth that is projected to go past $300 billion.

line chart for morgan stanley's projection for global activewear sales

The Athleisure market has caught the attention of the apparel industry, and the world. Celebrities and name brands alike are moving forward on developing new lines and brands to capture a piece of the booming market.

And it’s no wonder:

With a significant growth potential and a client base that is willing to pay more for the latest athleticwear technologies; this truly is a trend to take notice of in the coming years.