The rise of athleisure in the fashion market

Athleisure is a fitting contraction of ‘athletic’ and ‘leisure’ and it refers to apparel which can be worn in non-athletic settings.

fashion and style
 Min read
July 2, 2022

Even though economies have opened up, consumers continue to spend more time at home, working, exercising and seeking comfort in these trying times. With shut stores and no runway shows, the fashion industry undoubtedly had a tough time during the peak Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, the active and athleisure wear sales touched the skies and the clothing category flourished more than ever.

Professional wardrobes were immediately replaced by sweatpants, leggings, t-shirts and loungewear as most of the meetings took place in front of laptops. People wanted to shop for luxury sportswear because the offering had never been better.

But what is ‘athleisure’?

Athleisure is a fitting contraction of ‘athletic’ and ‘leisure’ and it refers to apparel which can be worn in non-athletic settings. In layman’s terms, it is a perfect amalgamation of street fashion and a healthy lifestyle. Experts claim factors like technological innovations in fabrics, trends of sporty looks and the body-positive movement have been key factors in the overall success of the athleisure fashion movement.

A Grand Review Research reported that the global athleisure market size was valued at $306.62 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% from 2022 to 2030. It has shown a massive growth of 42% in the last seven years.

The report further attributed the future growth of athleisure to the increased passion for sports, outdoor recreational activities and health consciousness among the young population. In India, the athleisure market is estimated at Rs 54,000 crore growing at 18-20% annually, reported Live Mint. In 2021, brands like Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL) told the newspaper that its active athleisure innerwear segment grew 56% over the same quarter last year driven by solid e-commerce growth. The company’s famous brand- Van Heusen which sells innerwear for men and women apart from athleisure such as tracks, joggers, pants, t-shirts, and shorts for both men and women reported high sales.

In its earnings release, the company stated that the performance was also aided by aggressive demand for the category including comfort wear and athleisure.

Who is wearing athleisure?

From celebrities to millennial influencers, from moms to dads, athleisure has been warmly adopted by all age groups. Still, experts claim that the most active wearers of athleisure are between 16 and 30 years old. As fitness is becoming a priority, the middle-aged group either wants to buy sportswear or the athleisure look. Especially for women, it has become more of a fashion statement.

Why luxury brands are embracing athleisure?

Athleisure’s success has been commendable and it has profoundly changed the way we dress. Now luxury fashion and activewear are no more two distinct worlds. Athleisure is undeniably growing faster than any other fashion category. Successfully tapping the demand to balance comfort and style, the luxury fashion brands are presenting their customers with exactly what they want. Luxury brands are indeed launching new sporty offerings — from sneakers to leggings and gym accessories.

High-end brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have already launched new lines of athleisure couture threads and premium footwear. The brands are revamping their overall image to cater to the millennial audience, for example, as reflected in Gucci’s new website and tagline ‘Redefining modern luxury fashion’, Gucci’s resurgence is in tune with today’s younger world.

To match the fast-fashion vibe, these luxury brands also collaborated with sports and casual attire global conglomerates- Alexander Wang x H&M, Louis Vuitton x Supreme and Stella McCartney x Adidas.

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