Comfy and Chic: Why Athleisure is the Hottest Retail Segment

Fashionistas no longer need to sacrifice style for comfort. Major fashion brands like Adidas, Puma and Under Armour are collaborating with designers and celebrities to create athletic wear that is not only comfy but stunning. Athleisure, a trendy form of athletic wear that can be worn outside of yoga class is an important retail sector that’s poised for even more growth. Some estimates say that the global athleisure market will reach 232 billion by 2024.

What is athleisure?

Mariam Webster’s dictionary defines athleisure as “Casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use.”

Similarly, a 2015 article in the Charlotte Observer described athleisure as chic athletic wear saying: “[Athleisure wear is] stylish activewear, designed to be as comfortable for running errands as it is for actual running—but chic, too. Chic enough, some say, to wear to work.”

Think of athleisure as pinstripe leggings you could wear to brunch after yoga,  satin track pants that are sophisticated enough for a dinner party, or a tie-dye skirt you could rock on the tennis court or in the office.

Athletic wear refers to the general athletic garments such as leggings, tank tops, and sports bras, but it also encompasses shoes and accessories, such as sweatbands and gym bags.

Why the athletic wear trend is here to stay?

While general retails sales have been relatively flat from 2008 to 2015, the athleisure sector grew by 42%. And the sector continues to grow. Some estimates say that the global athleisure market will reach 232 billion by 2024. While athleisure is popular with women, it’s also incredibly popular with men, particularly millennial men. In an interview with Business Insider, the former head of menswear at J. Crew, Todd Snyder said. “[Athleisure] is not going to go away for at least 10 years.”

It’s likely that this trend will last much longer than the next decade as new technological innovations continue to improve the quality of athletic garments.  Athletic wear has become a popular choice for many simply because it keeps you comfortable. Sweat-wicking technology, stretchy materials, and softer fabrics are all a result of new manufacturing technology, and as manufacturing technology evolves, athletic wear will become even more comfy and intuitive. Technology has also helped to decrease the cost of producing athletic wear.

Popular athleisure brands

More than 2600 brands and retailers offer athleisure products, but a few of these brands are winning the athleisure sales and marketing race. Popular athleisure brands include:

Puma Kylie Jenner CampaignIn addition to the brands mentioned above, there are many up-and-coming, smaller brands gaining popularity due to their social media presence or celebrity endorsements. For example, recently Kylie Jenner teamed up with Puma for the Puma Kylie Jenner Campaign, and her brother-in-law, rapper Kanye West heads a successful Yeezus fashion line in collaboration with Adidas. The Jenner/Kardashian clan have major clout on social media and have amassed massive exposure and sales leads for athleisure brands, but athleisure brand pages are also quite popular. The most followed fashion brands on social media include athletic wear companies like Nike and Adidas.

Make your athletic wear Unique

If you want to make your athleisure wear world class, the Unique Group can help you craft quality, chic garments that will be the talk of the tennis club or SoulCycle studio. We offer reflective technology, labeling, heat transfers, packaging and more to help you enhance the quality of your athliesure.