NEW YORK — Smaller and niche companies in activewear — facing a sector dominated by giants such as Nike, Adidas and Puma — are embarking on strategies for spring to increase their business and market share.
Everlast Worldwide is freshening up its women’s products with bold colors and new silhouettes and plans to initiate an aggressive consumer advertising campaign. Lizgolf by Liz Claiborne is adding more luxury fabrics and increasing its offerings of special sizes. Newcomers, including Zeneration, are looking to break into the market, and The Marika Group is branching out with a high-performance brand called IconTMG.
“Specialty stores are looking for new lines and they want to differentiate themselves from the majors,” said Norm Zwail, president of the Marika Group, who said he sees more room for new brands in activewear. “At the same time, more companies will likely enter the mass channel, which creates other opportunities.”
The $16.2 billion women’s activewear market has been particularly busy as brands such as Speedo enter the business, and big-name companies, including Nike and Danskin, expand their distribution by entering the mass channel.
On the trend front, performance fabrics are key for active companies and a number of new collections incorporate materials with properties such as wicking, breathability and moisture-management.
There are also a number of new collaborations under way, reflecting a strong trend in the sports arena as companies continue to link up with designers and celebrities. Adidas will roll out its new line designed by Stella McCartney in February, and its collection with Missy Elliott will start its second season in the spring. Another new sport collaboration is between tennis brand Ellesse and British fashion label Eley Kishimoto. The company is targeting stores such as Barney’s Co-op and Fred Segal for distribution, said Stuart Hudson, Ellesse’s U.S. national sales manager.
“This is a fun way to generate interest in our brand,” Hudson said, noting the collection will have limited U.S. distribution and will be sold worldwide. The initial products include miniskirts and cropped jackets in materials such as cotton and nylon with tennis motifs, and will wholesale for about $12 for a bandanna to $120 for a bomber jacket.
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