If you’ve been living in tracksuits for two years now, you might have mixed feelings about going back to formal suits or heels.
The good news is that athleisure is here to stay – and it’s looking good. So what does your brand need to know to get ahead of the game?
The revival of athleisure
Wearing your exercise gear outside the gym is hardly new. Even Princess Diana was papped looking stylish in lycra back in the 80s.
But the athleisure trend has been enjoying a revival in recent decades: just look at the rise of Lululemon, the brand behind the craze for yoga pants.
The trend sped up during the pandemic, as people ditched workwear and party gear and sought to stay comfy and get fit instead.
By 2021, the global athleisure market was valued at $144.25 billion and was forecast to rise to $281.4 billion by 2026 – a CAGR of 14.3%.
So now, in 2022, let’s take a look at three of the key features of athleisure today.
Athleisure as day wear
In 2022, athleisure is all about versatility. That means gym wear that doubles as street gear – and might even look acceptable in a relaxed workplace (or at least on Zoom).
So how are brands elevating the humble tracksuit or t-shirt? Think fashion-forward tops with scoop necklines or one-shouldered designs. Textured fabrics are popular too, including faux leather or ribbed textiles. And splits and flares are giving a kick to leggings and joggers.
The latest athleisure pieces fit perfectly into a fashionista’s wardrobe, and can be combined with other stylish items for a mix and match look.
Take Rihanna, who accessorises her tracksuits with designer handbags and sky-high heels that certainly aren’t designed for the treadmill!
Other influencers are going low-key, and styling cycling shorts with socks and sandals – yes, the ultimate Dad look is now a fashion statement too.
It’s all about blurring the boundaries, creating a style that InStyle calls “athlivesure”.
Young, fit and fashionable
When it comes to demographics, there’s no surprise: market growth in the athleisure sector is being driven by Millennials and Gen Zers.
They’re said to represent 80% of gym goers – and their healthy habits extend to nutritious food and moderate alcohol consumption.
To appeal to younger customers, it’s important that brands align with their values.
That means taking sustainability seriously: Soma Sportswear, for example, is a new British brand offering products made from a renewable tree pulp fabric.
It also means being inclusive and body positive, e.g. by offering styles in a full range of sizes. US-brand Girlfriend Collective, widely available through UK stockists, is a flag bearer, offering clothes made from recycled materials in sizes XXS to 6XL.
In fact, one of the appeals of athleisure is that those stretchy fabrics are more forgiving for mature bodies too. With Marks and Spencer introducing its Goodmove range in 2020, it looks like the trend for fitness-inspired gear could be appealing to older people as well.
Rise of the niche brands
Athleisure has been around for so long that the market has become saturated. Big names such as Adidas and Nike still dominate the UK scene – but challenger brands are seizing opportunities.
Bala blurs the lines not only between street and gym but also between sports equipment and sportswear. The brand’s stylish weighted bangles are designed to be worn not only during workouts but throughout your everyday activities.
British brand Vollebak takes a high-tech approach, with solar-charged jackets designed to store light, and ceramic t-shirts said to be the toughest on Earth. And for fitness fanatics who want to combine high-performance gear with a more retro look, there’s British newcomers Iffley Road.
What’s your brand’s niche – and how can you sell it?
Linney – your marketing partner
Athleisure is a crowded field, so brands need to work hard to set themselves apart from the pack.
At Linney, we offer world-class ecommerce and in-store marketing solutions to both major players and challenger brands. Contact us today to discuss teaming up.