Consumer Blog: Athleisure – the new casual

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Athleisure is one of the fastest growing trends in the retail world right now; apparel that crosses from the gym into everyday casualwear, coupled with stylish designs, is seemingly taking over.

It is the trend of the generation and has fundamentally changed the way we dress. Consumers insatiable appetite for the fashion-infused sportswear has meant that the market is now thought to be worth $270bn (c.€230bn), driven by sales growth of 42% over the last 7 years.1

 More recently we’ve seen several new brands go from start-up to significant scale and have seen these rival the more traditional sportswear companies. For example Varley,  a UK premium activewear brand now sold in over 300 retailers worldwide, is already forecasting sales of £6m (c.€6.7m)2, despite only being founded in 2014. Gymshark is another great example; which reported sales of over £12m (c.€13.5m) in 2016, having only been established in 2012.

Large athletic and sportswear brands are however fighting back. Recently, Japanese firm ASICS announced it is embracing the trend in order to help boost its products’ appeal amongst young consumers.

Fashion-focused brands have also been getting in on the action. ASOS is set to launch its own label line in November, which is likely to fuel further spend in the market given the brands’ foothold and appeal. This is of course on top of the likes of Topshop, which launched Ivy Park with singer Beyoncé last year, and Victoria’s Secret, which launched Victoria Sport. E-commerce giant Amazon also announced earlier this year the launch of its own in-house brand of athletic apparel, and even supermarket Sainsbury’s has decided to make a play for the space, recently joining forces with American sportswear business Russell Athletic.

This consumer appetite is driving interest from numerous private equity (PE) funds. L Catterton has invested in Sweaty Betty, Foresight in PlayerLayer, and US-based Outdoor Voices very recently received $9m (c.€7.5m) in funding as it seeks to take on major player, Lululemon.

The questions is, whether the market is sustainable. It’s clear that millennials are driving the majority of growth in the market and so it could be here for the longer-term as athleisure fits well with the millennials  healthy eating and active lifestyle. We would expect to see more investment from PE funds going forward as consumer demand for apparel increases, and also an increase in trade deals by broader sports and fashion brand owners. An athleisure brand could fit well with the profiles of some of the larger multi-brand clothing groups.

 

1 As reported by The Telegraph
2 As reported by Mergermarket