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The Landscape and Future of the Indian Sportswear Market

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Several factors have stimulated the transformation of sportswear into a fashion statement including the emergence of health and wellness trends, an increase in sporting events, rise of sports celebrities, higher disposable incomes, and a shift in lifestyle patterns towards fitness activities 

By Ankur Rastogi

The remarkable convergence of fashion and fitness in the sportswear market is a testament to the evolving lifestyle of Indians. With a growing emphasis on an active and health- conscious lifestyle, consumers seeking high-performance sportswear that can double up as a versatile all-day style choice. This trend has catapulted the Indian sportswear market into a period of rapid growth, where fashion meets function.

India, with its bounty of a youthful population, has become a hotbed for sportswear, particularly in the realm of footwear. Presently, the Indian sportswear footwear market is characterized by swift growth, diverse product offerings, and a strong emphasis on quality and performance. According to the latest industry reports, the market value has grown from a moderate size to a multi-billion dollar industry, an attestation to the seismic shift in consumer preference towards athletic footwear for both sports and casual purposes.

Fueling factors

Today, sportswear has transcended its athletic origins to become a fashion statement embraced by people from all walks of life. Several factors have stimulated this growth. The emergence of health and wellness trends, an increase in sporting events, rise of sports celebrities, higher disposable incomes, and a shift in lifestyle patterns towards fitness activities are some of the driving forces. Additionally, the rise of digital India, characterized by an increase in e-commerce platforms and social media influence, has played a significant role in augmenting this trend. Consumers particularly millennials and Gen Z, now value comfort and style, often seeking footwear that combines these elements.

One of the most notable factors is the increasing demand for athleisure wear – clothing and footwear that effortlessly transitions from the gym to everyday life. Athleisure has become a dominant trend, as consumers prioritize comfort, versatility, and style in their wardrobe choices. This convergence of sportswear and fashion has blurred the lines between performance and style, creating a demand for sportswear that seamlessly combines fashion-forward designs with functional features.

Innovation driving product diversification

There has been a noteworthy expansion in product diversification over the years. Brands have evolved from offering generic sports shoes to an array of specialized footwear catering to specific sports and fitness activities. This includes running shoes with shock-absorbing technology, basketball shoes with enhanced grip, and even yoga shoes designed for flexibility and balance.

To address fashion needs, brands are investing in lightweight and breathable materials, incorporating vibrant prints and patterns, pop of colours and experimenting with innovative design elements to create visually appealing and trendy sportswear.

Innovation has been key to staying relevant. The industry has witnessed many breakthroughs like Comfit Active Walk which leverage cutting-edge technology for designing ergonomically comfortable footwear. Another exemplary example is Power XO Rise – its highly-responsive cushioning comes with 44% explosive rebound ensuring maximum energy return. This means you can run for a longer time with ease. Brands are experimenting with materials with moisture-wicking properties to tackle perspiration effects. The advent of smart shoes, featuring integrated sensors and Bluetooth connectivity for tracking performance, has revolutionized the market. This integration of technology allows athletes and fitness enthusiasts to monitor their progress, optimize their training routines, and stay connected while on the move.

Sustainable manufacturing and sourcing

Today’s fashion-conscious consumers seek sportswear that not only looks good but also aligns with their values and aspirations. Sustainability has emerged as a key consideration for fashion enthusiasts, who prioritize eco-friendly choices.

Brands are increasingly adopting sustainable practices to address the environmental impact of their products. Eco-friendly materials, such as recycled polyester and organic cotton, are being incorporated into sportswear collections. Innovative manufacturing techniques are being explored that minimize waste and reduce energy consumption. There are active recycling programs to engage customers in circular fashion by extending the lifespan of their sportswear through repair, resale, or recycling initiatives.

How and from whom brands source has become crucial. Brands are laying down practices to ensure that their products are ethically produced and align with consumer expectations. They are actively seeking out suppliers and manufacturers who adhere to fair labor practices, ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages for employees. Furthermore, brands are prioritizing transparency in their supply chains, providing consumers with information about the origins of materials and the production processes involved. This emphasis on responsible sourcing not only ensures the welfare of workers but also addresses concerns related to environmental sustainability.

A promising future

Looking toward the future, the Indian sportswear footwear market holds immense potential. As urbanization progresses and disposable incomes increase, we foresee further growth in the market. The trend towards healthier lifestyles is not merely a passing phase but a paradigm shift that will continue to fuel the market.

Moreover, advancements in technology and a growing consciousness toward sustainability will pave the way for further innovations. Brands that prioritize consumer-centric design, quality, and sustainability will undoubtedly thrive in this evolving landscape.

Lastly, we anticipate a rise in collaboration between sportswear brands and other sectors such as technology companies and even the entertainment industry. This cross-sectoral fusion will not only lead to innovative products but also to new marketing strategies, reaching a broader audience. In conclusion, the state of the Indian sportswear footwear market is vibrant and promising. The journey so far has been exciting, but it’s the road ahead that truly sparks anticipation. We look forward to contributing to this evolving narrative, continuing to create footwear that is not only stylish and comfortable but also responsibly crafted.

The future of sportswear in India is not just about shoes-it’s about building a lifestyle.

This article first appeared in IMAGES Group’s Business of Fashion Magazine June 2023 issue

 

 

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