Featured Nov 26, 2019 5 min read

Can fashion brands compete in the activewear market?

As the activewear market continues to evolve, more fashion retailers are flocking over to add their own spin to this lucrative space.

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Analyzing the fashion brands doing activewear trends right and some to keep in mind for future collections. 

As the activewear market continues to grow and evolve, more fashion retailers are flocking over to add their own spin to this lucrative space. 

We analyzed the investment across brands and the performance of trends within this already saturated retail landscape.

Thinking about adding activewear to your assortment? Reach out for a demo to see how EDITED’s retail decision platform can help.  

All signs are pointing up 

  • A steady growth in activewear arrivals from fashion brands bodes well for those looking to enter the arena as it indicates positive past results. So far this Fall, each month has seen YoY increases in newness, where July experienced the largest uptick at 74%.
  • Tops continue to prove essential and the dominant category within activewear. While outerwear arrivals remained flat YoY, tops grew 42% and bottoms 39%. 
  • Own-brand labels Zella (Nordstrom) and Ideology (Macy’s)have grown their assortments in both number of products landing each month and frequency of drops. These increases indicate high demand for private label activewear within department stores.
  • H&M was the only standout retailer to narrow down its activewear assortment. From Fall 2018 to 2019, new arrivals were cut by 45% following a larger focus on the category in Spring.
activewear trends

Retailers successfully integrating activewear

Targeting the value market, Old Navy frequently features discounted activewear in its email communications and promotes the category at attainable price points. Currently, the average full price of an activewear product is $29.80. May is the favored month for activewear messaging at Old Navy, while 50% off is the most popular discount offered. 

American Eagle Outfitters focuses on featuring activewear pieces that have lifestyle appeal to the mass market. Transition is key, with consumers looking for ensembles that can go from the street to the StairMaster. In its newly launched TACKMA Tech performance collection, neons are prominent alongside stretch and moisture-wicking components.

Launching Tommy Sport in March 2019, the American brand is also getting in on the activewear action. Leading with innovation and technology in each product allows for a more premium price position. Tommy Hilfiger also infuses its existing brand DNA into the collection by featuring pieces in its signature American colors. 

Trends to adopt 

Womenswear 

Added interest in strap details on tops and sports bras has been trending in womenswear for some time. Not only is this trim seeing high SKU activity in the market, it also features in email communications from Lululemon and Athleta. 

activewear trends

Patterns prove popular this season in womenswear accounting for 20% of arrivals compared to 15% last year. Retailers favored cheetah and leopard prints, which attributed to an increase in investment for animal print from 19 styles last year to 106 this year. 

Menswear

Reversible products provide fashion, function and an easy upsell as customers get two looks for the price of one. Color-blocked options from Puma and track jackets from New Balance are seeing success. While outerwear is an easy category choice for first time investors, consider shorts and tank tops as well. 

Arrivals indicate that brighter colors are gaining traction when it comes to men’s activewear. Shades like orange and yellow have increased in product counts by 67% and 143%, respectively. Relevant licenses like SpongeBob SquarePants and athleisure stories at David Catalan add to the hype. 

Trends to drop 

Womenswear

While retailers like Outdoor Voices heavily promote ‘The Exercise Dress’ on its website and social media, the silhouette remains very niche. The trend did see an uptick in product arrivals at activewear brands between June and August 2019 but resulted in few sell outs. Consider putting a lifestyle spin on the shape with nostalgic nods like logos, side stripes or color-blocking if you’re planning on investing. 

Despite an overall surge in activewear arrivals YoY, burgundy shades noted a 3% drop. After seeing a similar decline in black, white and grey tones, it has become clear retailers are opting for more color. 

Menswear

A slow mover across menswear arrivals from brands like Gymshark and Reebok, cut-off T-shirts have needed price reductions in order to see SKU movement. Instead, the basketball jersey is showing promise for next season. 

Looking at new activewear product arrivals YoY, the ratio of solid to patterned options remains the same at 69% and 31%, respectively. Though camouflage is the second most popular pattern behind graphic prints, the design declined 26% in arrivals YoY. Instead, retailers are investing in abstract and checked looks. 

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