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The Future of Activewear

The Future of Activewear
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Whether you are a brand catering to an adrenaline junkie enjoying intense interval training, or a mindful yogie starting their day with sun salutations, the choice of attire to elevate one’s fitness practice while also remaining chic and fashionable is paramount to many consumers. The global sportswear market is expected to grow to €395 ($384) billion by 2025, at an annual rate of 8 to 10 percent, and brands are trying to capitalize on this by breaking into new categories and offering updated fitness attire stylish enough to cater to consumers’ evolving tastes.

Studio to Street

In the modern times we live in, the lines between athletic wear, loungewear and ready-to-wear are growing increasingly blurry. Last week, fashion house Balenciaga, known for exquisite craftsmanship and innovative designs, unveiled a collaboration with sportswear brand Adidas, and earlier this year Prada dropped their Re-Nylon collection in collaboration with the same brand. Consumers’ lifestyles are changing, and with that they are starting to combine pieces that previously have lived in completely different spaces. Merchandisers and buyers have to take this into account when planning in order to cater to the modern shopper. So, with athletic wear now being able to live far beyond the gym and the studio, how do brands enter that space?

The key for brands and designers to take athletic attire from the dedicated fitness space to the street is to create fashion-forward pieces that still perform during practice. By mixing function with pure fashion features, like strappy detailing, cut outs, mesh, and corsetry, these workout pieces will be able to perfectly integrate into your everyday wardrobe.

Los Angeles based Alo Yoga is a brand that has been able to effortlessly merge the two, and done so in a fashion forward and trendsetting way. StyleSage data reveals that searches for ‘Alo Leggings’ are up 47% since April of 2021, and it’s easy to see why. Besides being celebrity-approved, their clothes are just too chic to only be worn while perfecting a yoga flow. Their offering includes high-waisted mesh capri leggings, that with a pair of boots or strappy sandals could easily transition to a music festival or Sunday brunch. Other highlights include an ultra-cropped ribbed top with a built in sports bra, and a lingerie inspired corset tank that is as perfect for movement as it is for stunting on the streets.

Apart from bringing hyper-relevant activewear that sits perfectly in this trending in-between space, Alo Yoga has also successfully created a community that embodies wellness and mindfulness. Community building is a trending disruptor in the fashion industry as a whole right now, but especially so in the fitness space where mental wellness, self-care and listening to one’s body are co-existing themes. Alo has been able to build a global community based on this, by hosting activations and workshops for their shoppers and fans, at what Alo calls their ‘sanctuaries’. At these events, the brand offers trending beverages like matcha lattes and kombucha, yoga classes, and endless Instagram photo opportunities.

Another brand that is successfully blurring the lines between fitness and fashion is premium lifestyle brand Lululemon. Their leggings have long been the staple of active shoppers’ wardrobes, and their buttery soft Aligns have even achieved icon status and are collected by the dozen by loyal Lulu shoppers. Seen on stars like Megan Markle, Lucy Hale, and Kendall Jenner, Lulu leggings are cult classics in the category, but their product offerings include much more than that. Highlights that merge the gym with the outside world include dresses, like a super-soft midi designed for movement in any form, and a sleek hoodie with ultra-flattering sculpting seams. In fact, dresses in the activewear realm are trending - StyleSage data shows that product counts of women’s dresses and skirts in the activewear category at retailers in the UK, US, Italy, Germany and France are up 46% from one year ago.

Sports Themed Fashion

Sport specific activewear is going strong, and as reported in StyleSage’s trend report on Tennis Fashion (exclusively available for StyleSage clients), tennis is one of the categories to keep an eye on. Product counts of tennis skirts and tennis dresses are up 48% and 46%, respectively, from one year ago. If there is anything else we know that speaks of trending themes in the fashion industry, it’s collaborations. Trending activewear brand Fabletics just launched a capsule collection with Universal Tennis, and late last year Tennis star Venus Williams partnered with Carbon38 for a collection inspired by and for the sport. It is evident that both style and performance are at the forefront of this trend.

The ballet aesthetic is another theme that is having a moment. With classes like barre and ballet sculpt becoming increasingly popular, there’s no wonder that participants want to look the part with attire that feels graceful and ready for center stage. Lacing details, sweater bras, and wrap tops channel one’s inner ballerina in no time in terms of apparel, while smoothly making you look​​ on point(e). Perfectly embodying this ethereal aesthetic is Bandier’s private label Le Ore, with a line full of everything mentioned above, plus a wide array of ribbed dresses, skirts and cut-out tanks that do nothing but smudge the activewear versus fashion line. Live the Process is another brand that is on the same trajectory, offering sleek bodysuits, leotards and cashmere leg warmers. Their mission, to transcend the prism of style, truly comes out in their line of elevated and ballet-inspired layering pieces.

Possibly one of the more surprising trends to occur in recent activewear fashion is the one-piece, which also goes by the names “onesie” or “unitard”. With the one-piece seen on celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Alessandra Ambrosio for workout purposes, and more dressed up versions spotted on the runways of Lanvin, Saint Laurent and Acne Studios for the SS22 season, it is clear that this 90’s inspired trend very much has a place in the year of 2022. Retailers are certainly following suit, as product counts of onesies or one-pieces are up by 138% from last year.

What else is selling in the activewear category? Shorts, and a lot of them. We all love a good biker short and have done so for a while, but seem to do so now more than ever if the data tells us anything. In the activewear category, shorts account for 42% of sold out products at full price introduced in last month. So effortlessly styled with a chain belt and crop top for a chic model off-duty look, this piece seamlessly fits into the studio to street category. A brand to watch in this space? Gymshark. Searches for ‘Gymshark Shorts’ are up 69% since a year ago.

As activewear keeps changing the game of the fashion industry and consumer purchasing patterns change, it’s crucial for business professionals to plan accordingly. Get a demo and learn more about our tools for competitive market positioning here!

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