These days everyone is trying to get into the activewear games.
From Target Corp. to American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s Aerie to Madewell to Danielle Bernstein’s WeWoreWhat, retailers are trying to find their place in the world of athleisure and performance wear. There’s also sportswear giants like Nike Inc., Adidas AG and Under Armour Inc., along with smaller activewear brands, such as Urban Outfitters Inc.’s FP Movement by Free People, Gap Inc.’s Athleta and Fabletics that have no shortage of fans. Even Rihanna may be getting into the game soon.
It has been one of the best performing categories amid the pandemic, according to Kristen Classi-Zummo, director of apparel market insights at The NPD Group Inc. The global activewear market is expected to be worth nearly $547 billion by 2024, according to Allied Market Research.
The question, then, is there still room to grow in an increasingly oversaturated market?
“It has gotten to be a pretty crowded field over the last couple of years,” Craig Johnson, founder of Customer Growth Partners, a retail advisory group, told WWD. “It’s a fairly comprehensive market — which is still growing — but we believe the supply has been growing faster than the demand. There’s not a lot of white space left in the market.
“If [these brands] can bring something unique to the industry and all that, then this thing is certainly worth a try,” he added.
That means price alone may not be enough to keep consumers interested. Innovation and offering something new, Johnson said, are necessary for surviving and thriving against the competition. Lululemon has 3D yoga mats coming soon. Rihanna could offer the celebrity angle to activewear. Niche players, like D+K Active, offer maternity activewear options, while indie start-up Zise offers performance wear that doubles as dancewear. Some brands have performance features, such as wrinkle-resistant and antimicrobial properties, fabrics that offer UV protection or sweat-wicking garments.
Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and chief executive officer of innerwear and activewear brand Adore Me, said sales surged in the activewear category at his firm during the pandemic — and he doesn’t see the trend ending anytime soon.
“Heading into 2021, we’re still very bullish on activewear as a category, as we believe it will continue to become more normalized to wear even in work settings,” Hermand-Waiche said.