Over the past seven years, sports apparel and footwear sales have jumped 42% to $270 B. According to Morgan Stanley, the report estimates that the industry could add $83 B in sales by 2020. These impressive numbers are due to the growing interest on fitness and active lifestyle that is now a peculiar feature of our current times. The recent focus on healthy living has driven more and more people to take care of the way they dress while doing sports: not only professional athletes, but also amateurs and especially younger ones.
The biggest market for activewear is the US, which currently accounts for $97 B. A research from Morgan Stanley forecasts a stable growth in the European market in the next five years. Yet, the key market to watch will definitely be Asia Pacific and especially China, where the government is promoting an active lifestyle among the population, developing sports infrastructure and the overall business.
Alongside sportswear, the last frontier is now the so called “athleisure“, which indicates highly performing yet fashionable apparel, wearable in daily activities. Since sportswear is not anymore relegated to the gym, the fashion industry is taking the next step to make the most of the healthy lifestyle trend. The biggest player, ça va sans dire, is the American giant Nike, which owns a large slice of the market. Yet, there are many other activewear brands that have emerged in the past decade, riding on the success of sports and fitness. Among the others, the Canadian yoga brand Lululemon Athletica was able to create a real movement that now gathers thousands of women who are committed to the Lululemon cause and believe in the brand’s ethos.
Famous designers as well have joined the athleisure trend, either collaborating with popular sports brands, such as Adidas by Stella McCartney, or creating their own line. This is what Tory Burch did in 2015: the American designer launched her own activewear label Tory Sport during last year’s New York Fashion Week, pricing her goods a little above competitors such as Lululemon. A few months later, in April 2016, Tory Sport set up its first store in NY, which was celebrated with a grand opening party attended by Anna Wintour, Narciso Rodriguez and Chanel Iman.
Last, of course, came street fashion: big names like Zara, Oysho (both belonging to the Spanish group Inditex) and H&M are now launching their own activewear lines. Zara in particular seems to be counting a lot on its new gymwear collection, which includes four categories: basics, swimwear, loungewear luxe and lightweight pieces. It is clear that Zara is trying to position itself as a convincing, affordable alternative to the real activewear luxury. Will it succeed? Or is the targeted customer a totally different one?
This whole trend revolves around the idea of self-improvement and growth and it is nurtured by the culture of mens sana in corpore sano: especially among millennials, the tendency is to spend larger and larger amounts of money on activities and experiences rather than material goods. Over the past ten years, this fitness fever has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry which does not seem to be ceasing any time soon.