Athleisure defines current fashion trends

Athleisure is the result of the trend to show off personal body fitness, and customers’ need for simple fashion. Its success is still increasing. We expect that this new segment and its sub-segments will become even more popular. This popularity will considerably influence daily fashion trends.

Athleisure is a combination of sportswear and leisurewear. This new trend is getting more important in fashion. This follows the growing trend of taking part in sports activities and maintaining personal fitness. Sports brands like adidas, Puma and Speedo are aware of this trend. That is why they are focussing designing sportswear especially for millennials.

All-day sportswear

Millennials like this new type of sportswear a lot. So much so, that it has found its way into the daily leisurewear of influencers and their followers. Designers quickly followed this trend and started creating athleisure clothes. Athleisure wear has a sporty look, but you can still wear it throughout the day. Often, these clothes are made from technological materials that you can also find in high-quality sportswear.

Customers appreciate the easy to combine, light, and ready-to-wear characteristics of the clothes. In most cases, the apparel items are quite minimalistic in pastel colours or black and white. But neon colours and floral prints are also part of the fashion in 2020. Typical athleisure items include leggings, sports bras, sweaters, tracksuit bottoms, and sneakers.

Growth of athleisure wear

Experts expect the market of athleisure to grow by around 7% per year, from 2019 to 2026. The sub-category leggings shows the greatest potential. It has an expected growth of 8% during the same period. But athleisure is not a clearly defined term. And its numbers are combined with sportswear and other apparel sub-categories. Within the last 5 years, the European sportswear fashion grew by 10.1%. The sector estimates that 27% of European sportswear fashion is athleisure wear.

Large fashion brands embrace athleisure wear

Traditional fashion brands like H&M and Zara have started to offer this type of fashion in their own collections. In May 2020, COS launched its first women's athleisure collection, COS Activewear. And in September 2020, they also launched a men’s collection. Paul Stuart and Gucci also announced summer athleisure collections.

Fashion and sport work together

Companies can take part in the athleisure wear trend by combining daily wear with sports technologies. H&M in Sweden announced a new men’s wear collection with Coolmax technology. This technology absorbs moisture and allows air to pass through the material. Sportisimo bought 80% of Klimatex. A company that delivers its special materials to many sports and fashion brands.

Many sportswear companies are working together with fashion brands to launch athleisure collections. Sports brand adidas partnered with fashion brand 424 to launch sneakers and a sporty apparel collection. adidas also worked with Girls Are Awesome to launch apparel and footwear items. Speedo worked with Beauty & Youth to launch smart sportswear made with LZR Cordura fabrics.

Opportunities due to COVID-19

Like all other apparel segments, sportswear brands have seen their sales decline due to the forced closure of physical shops. For example, Puma saw a decline of 60% in Q1 of 2020 and asked for a state loan of 900 million euros to save the company. There were rumours about adidas going bankrupt, but these are not true.  Companies like Decathlon are actually planning shop openings in Eastern Europe. And Kappa and other companies are increasing their online presence throughout Europe.

Stores are still the main distribution channel for sportswear and athleisure. But a growing percentage of sales comes from online sales. If you are an SME exporter of athleisure with online sales via existing business-to-consumer (B2C) sales platforms, you have an advantage.

Experts in the industry like Kaspar Rosted, CEO of adidas, expect that the market for sportswear will grow again once the pandemic is over in Europe. The sales of sportswear-related items might even increase as more customers want to take part in sports activities outside. During the pandemic, customers started wearing comfortable clothing. Many companies believe that customers prefer dressing this way. Brands selling athleisure wear used the opportunity to launch new collections. Fabletics is a good example of this, with their new Pride Collection.

This news article was written for CBI by M-brain.

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