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Athleisure sales soar as workwear becomes more comfort oriented

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Just like loungewear, another fashion category that has registered huge demand in the wake of the pandemic-infused lockdown is athleisure. Being stuck at home for weeks on end, consumers are responding by stocking up on yoga pants, joggers, hoodies and sneakers.
“It is one the very few categories in apparel that is fast selling even in the pandemic. With consumers not stepping out for formal gatherings and being confined to their homes, the demand for comfortable yet stylish apparel that can be worn in the comfort of our homes has increased rapidly, leading to athleisure gaining its ground post the lockdown,” states a spokesperson from Jack & Jones.
The growing penchant for athleisure is not new. The global fashion industry has been witnessing a steady rise in the segment since the last decade. In 2019 the global athleisure market was estimated at US$163.7 million by Allied Market Research. But the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this trend by manifolds.
Wrogn, a leading retailer from the athleisure segment says that in the in the past two months, athleisure has been amongst the fastest growing categories in the fashion space. According to the
company, while the trajectory was at 10 percent – 20 percent
in the past, the industry on an average is experiencing a growth of 50-75 percent at the moment.
“The pandemic has definitely made this category more relevant and it has quickly found acceptance across the target group. The lockdown restricted the movement and thus a change in the consumer to opt for comfort-wear was an obvious choice. The relevance of the category from comfort and functionality, along with the counter-culture globally, has ensured that it is pertinent to the youth,” states Nishant Poddar, Chief Marketing Officer, Wrogn.
Growth Drivers
Athleisure is all about comfort. These are clothes that can be worn anywhere and anytime and thus, they became a perfect fit for consumers who were confined to their homes because of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has just accelerated the demand driven by practical needs of work from home, presentation on video calls and need for apparel that are easier to wash and dry. Anand Mahindra expressed it best when he said that he was unaware that one day he would wear a ‘lungi’ to work,” says Kamal Khushlani, Founder & MD, Mufti.
In recent years, fitness has been a mainstream trend, with more and more people concerned about wellness mindsets and healthy lifestyles. The pandemic, on its part, has heightened this trend. The lockdown has triggered even the indolent most to realize the importance of staying fit and building immunity.
“Today, there is a snowballing demand for fitness and training merchandise because of this. Also, with work from home continuing to be a norm, it is natural that athletic leisurewear is enjoying strong demand. I believe sportswear and athleisure would be one of the categories to see quick revival. The trend is currently upwards and is a good reflection of how things will
shape up when normalcy resumes,” reveals Vidushi Thapa, Head, Buying & Merchandising, Puma.
What’s Trending
Comfort is on top of consumers’ minds, more now than ever. Consumers today are shifting focus from technicalities and performance to comfort oriented silhouettes that promise versatility and utility.
“The trend that is significant at the moment is comfort combined with fashion. There is a trend towards wellness leading to increased sales in yoga pants, track suits, etc. It’s about ‘being comfortable’ in what one wears now. The top selling athleisure products across men’s segments are crew-neck sweaters, joggers, track pants, and sneakers,” reveals the Jack & Jones Spokesperson.
Puma has registered good demand for athleisure, home fitness gear as well as workout gear like running t-shirts, training tracks, shorts, training footwear, etc. Open footwear, like sandals and flip- fl ops are selling very well as people wear that at home. The brand also has noticed bolstered consumption of kidswear in this segment. “We have also seen a clear pattern in the kidswear segment with the consumption moving up. This could be because kids are staying more at home and are not wearing uniform,” states Thapa.
“There is increased demand for cotton leggings & track pants, T-shirts, shorts and sports bras. In terms of colours, there has been a shifts in trend from basic core colours to bright hues — neutrals have given way to summer and pastel brights,” explains Manab Hembram, Creative Director – Design, Zivame.
According to Pallavi Barman, Head – Marketing & Operations, HRX, loose and oversized athleisure is the currently trending. “In terms of current trends, loose oversized clothing has found a new liking. Oversized joggers and tees are very popular now. Plus, we are looking at an increase in demand for shorts and tracks as well as trainers and sneakers. Color wise we follow trend stories popular worldwide so lavender, beige, military, khakhi, grey, black, etc., are all loved,” she says.
The unflinching inclination towards fitness has also opened up for new opportunities for Sporting Goods as well. “There has surely been an increased demand for fitness products like yoga mats. We have seen a large uptake for premium mats soon as the lockdown eased. The demand for premium products has increased dramatically compared to the last quarter,” says Darshan M, Co-founder, Deivee.
Going Ahead
The athleisure category has been propelled chiefly a collective shift towards comfort and utility. By far, it is one of the largest cultural phenomena that the fashion industry has witnessed, and experts believe that it will continue to grow and have a lasting impact on the apparel segment.
Even market statistics seem to highlight similar predictions. According to the findings of the market research company GlobalData, the revenue of athleisure worldwide has increased by US$ 34 billion in only one year, from 2018 to 2019 and it will continue to skyrocket. A recent report by Technavio, released in May, says the category has the potential to grow by nearly $81 billion from 2020 to 2024.
“Irrespective of the effects of lockdown, athleisure is a category which is evergreen and irreplaceable. People have already realized that taking care of themselves is their own decision and it is very important for them to be physically fit and active for a longer and healthier life. The growing awareness about health and fitness will not take a back seat and it will grow tremendously in the coming years,” states Siddharth Grover, Director, Groversons Paris Beauty.

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