Once a fashion trend officially makes it into the dictionary it’s definitely more than a passing fad, and athleisure looks like a product category that (despite recent doom-mongering) is set to thrive for years to come. We’ve been providing fit recommendations for an ever-increasing range of athleisure items over the last eighteen months, and look forward to that volume growing considerably down the line as more and more brands and retailers enter the space.
As a relatively recent apparel phenomenon, the future of athleisure remains wide open. We’re still very much in a growth phase where innovation and exploration are the name of the game as the market develops. With all that in mind, let’s have a look at five key athleisure trends to keep an eye on going into 2018 and beyond.
1. Athleisure as Continuing Catnip for Celebrities
With the rise of influencers a confirmed trend across apparel generally in recent years, it’s no surprise that famous figures are increasingly tempted to set up shop themselves, rather than just settling for a cut off the top. And when they do, it’s athleisure they turn to first. Kate Hudson, Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, Heidi Klum, Rita Ora, Carrie Underwood… the string of celebrities who’ve launched their own leisurewear brands in recent years reads like a Who’s Who of entertainment industry A-listers.
Hillary Swank is the latest to step into the arena with the recent launch of her Mission Statement range. In an already saturated segment, Swank is making her mark by creating clothing that celebrates women and enables them to perform to their highest potential. Expect plenty more notable names to follow suit in 2018.
2. Athleisure as a Rare Silver Lining for Retailers
Against a backdrop of ongoing gloom and doom, athleisure is one trend that retailers could do well to get on board with. A recent report from NPD showed an 11 percent increase through 2016 that makes it an impressively large $45.9 billion market in the United States alone.
As a recent briefing from Euromonitor makes clear, there are wider factors at play here that athleisure is tapping into. Magdalena Kondej, Head of Apparel and Footwear, commented that athleisure is “increasingly shifting from a trend to a lifestyle, driven by consumers’ desire to be both stylish and comfortable at the same time and at all times”.
Given that $1 in every $6 we spend globally on clothing and footwear is on sportswear, big hitters in the clothing retail industry are already lining up to fight for their share of a lucrative market predicted to be worth an extra $61bn in sales by 2021. This is already evident in how quickly upscale outfits such as Selfridges and LVMH are moving to get into the space. Speaking of the top end of the market, let’s move on to our next point.
3. Athleisure as an Incubator for Luxury Brands
In the continuing battle to corner a Millennial and Gen-Z market which is set to account for 45 percent of the global luxury market by 2025, brands are lining up to collaborate with streetwear designers who already have a lock on this audience.
Think Stella McCartney for Adidas, Alexander Wang for H&M, Louis Vuitton for Supreme, Tommy Hilfiger partnering with ultra-trendy streetwear designer Vetements, or Gosha Rubchinskiy collaborating with Burberry. That’s before we even consider Chanel and Dior’s ongoing experiments with sneakers, or Karl Lagerfeld’s latest collaboration with Vans.
Everywhere you look, high end luxury brands are “borrowing” the cool factor from their streetwear counterparts. As Highsnobiety founder David Fischer put it, it’s the “perfect way for a luxury house to get their ‘legacy’ across to young consumers”.
4. Athleisure as a Trojan Horse for Technical Apparel
Once you go athleisure, you’ll never go back; this seems to be the message coming from apparel experts. As Tom Patterson of Tommy John put it, “We’ve all worn uncomfortable outfits that are stiff, and wrinkle very quickly, and it’s hard to go back to that. Once you’ve experienced a smartphone, you can’t use anything else.”
As a result, retailers are investing in fashionable clothing that has functionality previously only seen in sportswear. From clothing lines made with NASA technology to Nanotex items that are spill, stain, water and wrinkle resistant. People these days expect their clothing to do more and savvy retailers are beginning to use performance fabrics in all types of mainstream apparel. Expect athleisure and outdoors to continue to lead the way when it comes to next-generation fashion tech.
5. Athleisure as the New Normal
As a recent Fortune article makes clear, the global movement towards comfort shows no signs of slowing down. Clothes which were once only appropriate for the gym are what we now wear to meet friends for coffee, go grocery shopping, and even impress in the boardroom.
New “hyped-up” athleisure collections launched by brands such as ADAY and Carbon38 point to a future of athleisure that looks an awful lot like regular clothes. As Deirdre Clemente commented in a recent Business Insider piece, it’s a trend that’s even making its way into the boardroom: “Styling is evolving to merge business casual and sportswear into one. Durability of sportswear and the versatility of business casual — put those two things together, and who’s not going to want to buy it?”
As part of our mission to help brands and retailers solve sizing and sell smarter, we like to keep a close eye on developments in individual product categories such as athleisure. We’re also perfectly set up to handle sizing recommendations for both pure-play athleisure outfits and other brands expanding into the area.
If you’d like to explore just how much value we can bring to both you and your customers in that regard, let’s get the conversation started!