See all Blog posts

Athleisure: A Mass Movement Not A Trend?

Athleisure has taken the fashion world by storm, but is this a trend or a lifestyle change? Read about the success of yoga pants, sneakers and sports bras.
Athleisure: A Mass Movement Not A Trend? | EDITED

If you’ve not heard of athleisure, you must have been trekking in the Andes for the last 18 months. Look no further than here, here or here to gauge the heat of the topic. We’re often approached by the press to comment on the subject and seeing as we’re sitting on a heap of athleisure data, it’s about time we shared it with you too!

Why’s It Happening?

Driving this trend is the cultural shift we’ve undergone in the last 5-10 years. Consumers are prioritising health and wellbeing, with the internet aiding the knowledge share. We may not be exercising more, but we certainly have an increased understanding of wellness.  

At the same time, there’s been an increased adoption of comfortable and functional clothing. Stuff that suits the demands of our modern lives. The sports luxe trend, which felt temporary and seasonal, morphed into something which impacted the way we dress for every occasion. As working life for many begins to look a bit more flexible, office dress codes have also been rewritten (documented or otherwise!). And at weekends, the scene at any café will attest it’s no longer a sin to be seen socialising in gym kit. It’s all looking rosy but the trend has its victims, the denim market being the biggest casualty to date.

How Big Is This Trend?

It’s big. Take just one (very successful) facet of the athleisure trend: sneakers. More than 68,000 pairs arrived online in the last three months. Compare that to fringing, a major Summer 2015 hit, which had 51,000 items across apparel, accessories and footwear arrive in the same timeframe.

More perspective? There are three times as many sneakers on the market as there are skinny jeans. In the last twelve months, the luxury market has upped its sneaker game. In May 14 – August 14 2014, luxury accounted for only 15% of new arrivals. This year, the luxury market accounts for 25% of newness, with brands like Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada leading the influx.

Yoga pants have grown 341% in the last 3 months compared to 2014. Average price is up 14%.

But athleisure stretches wider than that. Take yoga pants, which have seen 341% growth in new arrivals in the last three months compared to the same period in 2014. At the same time, the average price of a pair of yoga pants has lifted by 14% and we’ve seen luxury brand Lucas Hugh – whose leggings cost up to $430 – added into the most stocked globally.

Yoga pants have soared in the last 12 months.
Yoga pants have soared in the last 12 months.

Boom In the Bust

Also of note is that sports bras are filling out, so to speak. There’s been a 96% increase in new arrivals in this category in the last three months and premium brands have grown their market share by 5%. Yoga pants and sneakers are certainly the most visible garments associated to the athleisure trend, but their market saturation means there’s unlikely to be more surprise growth. Until very recently, sports bra offerings were rather dull, and avoided by the majority of lingerie companies. Now, the consumer is informed and adventurous. Retailers tapping into this in the next 12 months will reap rewards.

Champagne Lifestyle on a Gatorade Budget

Much has been made of luxury’s foray into the sporty world. But a glance at data reminds us to not over state the scale of this segment – the luxury market only accounts for 3% of current active and sportswear. More promising is the burgeoning premium market with its technical abilities and the mass market for fast-moving trends.

The luxury market accounts for only 3% of athleisure clothing.

What’s Next?

Despite a bulging mass market, we don’t see this trend cooling any time soon. Consumers are embracing the functionality and comfort of athleisure. Whether you break a sweat or not, being active has become an appealing and attractive lifestyle, very influential on social media like Instagram. We’re seeing an increase in retailers offering in-house activewear lines and new labels launching globally. The most growth is to be found in premium brands with high level technical capabilities.

Consumers are embracing the functionality and comfort of athleisure. It won’t cool anytime soon.

We also expect to see more collaborations between sportswear brands and designers. Drake’s collaboration with Nike Jordan, due to land next month, is a sure sign sports brands haven’t finished their love affair with rap just yet either.

There’s also huge potential for retailers to add merchandise to their offering – items like yoga mats and straps, water bottles, fanny packs and other trend-led accessories. This area offers some easy wins for retailers; items which are unchallenged by the struggles around fit.

However, for the longevity of this movement, there needs to be a continued push to delight customers with newness and improved technologies. Do that, and pay close attention to what is and what isn’t working in the market, and athleisure fatigue will be kept at bay.