When looking in your closet, do you prefer a nice, stylish outfit or your staple tee and joggers? Now more than ever, trends are pointing towards comfortable and versatile clothes over those that are strictly made for style.  Luckily, the activewear trend that has quickly gained momentum, provides the best of both worlds.

Did you know that in 2017 activewear sales in retail totaled $48 billion!  This trend, now known as “athleisure,” took the world by storm years ago, though it is impossible to pinpoint the exact start.  According to Merriam-Webster, who added athleisure to their dictionary’s 2016 edition, this term actually first appeared in a 1976 ad for shoes.  Over 40 years later and athleisure is now a household term and a trend that has some serious staying power.

So, what do consumers love about this apparel trend, and why does it have so much staying power? Shifting lifestyle trends and the emergence of big brand names are the 2 major factors in the trend’s lengthy life cycle.

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The Relaxed Lifestyle

Have you ever heard the phrase, “fashion hurts”?  Historically, stylish clothes were known to be uncomfortable, but women didn’t care because they wanted to look good.  Traditionally women’s skirts were often uncomfortable and restricted movement, and the accompanying heels did not help.  As for men, full suits were worn almost every day- even in the summer.

Activewear, on the other hand, provides consumers with the perfect mix of style and comfort.  People value being comfortable in what they’re wearing, so it’s no wonder that the activewear trend has so much staying power.  Athleisure trends are now found almost anywhere.  Working in the office, cheering at your son’s soccer game, and eating out for dinner without changing clothes: who would say no?

Business wear in particular has been greatly influenced by the relaxed lifestyle trend as companies have begun loosening up on employee dress codes.  This first started in the 1980s with tech companies in Silicon Valley who pretty much pioneered the term “business casual.” Then, in the 90s, “Casual Fridays” gained popularity in other parts of the nation.  This movement allowed for workers to wear jeans and khakis in lieu of suits and slacks.  Overtime, this dress code spread throughout the entire week, and is now the preferred style of employees.  Though a full athleisure outfit is not standard business dress code, people are implementing certain pieces into their work outfits.  For women, a longer or oversized sweater pairs great with black leggings, and men can wear a quarter zip pullover with their basic khakis.  Many athleisure pieces are highly versatile and can be dressed up for work or down to work out.

This trend highlights an opportunity that companies can capitalize on for their branded apparel.  When thinking about the best pieces to use for uniforms or other corporate apparel, think comfortable and adaptable.  The more the recipients enjoy the piece, the more they will also wear it outside of work.  For example, quarter-zip pullovers and simple tees are great for men and women alike and are versatile for many occasions.

fabletics

Image from Forbes.com

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The Power of Brands

Surely, you’ve heard of Lululemon right?  It exploded on the market a few years ago, but did you know that it was founded 20 years ago? This huge brand began as a small boutique and picked up as the athleisure trend rose.  By the early 2000s, Lululemon spread across the US and gained a huge following while athletic brands like Adidas and Champion also made a comeback.  It became apparent to other retailers that there was a massive market for activewear.  They began creating their own line of athleisure clothing like Zella by Nordstrom and Victoria Secret Sport.  In addition, hundreds of start-up activewear brands began popping up.  Outdoor Voices and GymShark are a couple examples of ones that have done particularly well.

Celebrities have also influenced the crazy growth of athleisure.  Their style largely impacts trends since they’re constantly in the public eye and all over the media.  Therefore, this trend was bound to really take off when several celebrities began creating their own athleisure brands.  In 2013, Kate Hudson began her activewear line, Fabletics, which has grown exponentially.  After starting out solely online 5 years ago, Fabletics has surpassed $300 million in annual revenue and has 25 brick and mortar locations, with plans for 75 more. (CNBC) Not long after that, Jessica Simpson added an activewear line to her clothing brand, and Beyoncé co-founded a brand called Ivy Park. Rhianna, Carrie Underwood, and Venus Williams are other stars that are also in the athleisure game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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According to PR Newswire, the global activewear market is expected to reach near $570 billion by 2024!  With consumers valuing comfortable and stylish clothing, athleisure doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.  So how exactly are you supposed capitalize on this popular apparel trend?  Support it!  Did you know your brand could be on an Adidas polo, or Oakley jacket?  These brands, along with so many more, allow their products to be co-branded.  Why not consider athleisure for your uniform and apparel giveaways?  Your employees and clients will appreciate being able to look and feel good while repping your brand in their new apparel piece.

Jaclyn Maneri

Take a peak at our activewear idea book here, so your audience can enjoy the trend while advertising your brand!