The women’s active wear market is booming, as the days of throwing on an old t-shirt and shorts to exercise are well over. Today, as the fitness realm has become more fashion conscious, women are willing to spend just as much money on a new fitness outfit as they would on a new dress. The women’s sportswear market is growing because there is a much greater emphasis on the style and fit of women’s workout clothing. Leading sportswear brands like Under Armour and Adidas are mindful of comfort and fit, as well as style and fashion.
The rise in women’s sportswear has vastly contributed to growth in the global sports apparel market, which is expected to increase to $178 billion by 2019, according to Trefis, a Boston-based research firm. NDP, a global market research firm, reported the sales of women’s active wear in the U.S. climbed to $11.5 in 2013, a nine percent increase from 2012. Kevin Plank, the chief executive of Under Armour, forecasted the brand’s women’s active wear sales will reach $1 billion by 2016 and may even outpace men’s.
One key contribution of the growth of the global sportswear market, particularly women’s, is more people are exercising. According to a 2012 conducted by Yoga Journal, about 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, which is a 29% jump from 2008 when 15.8 million people did yoga. While men do attend yoga classes, the majority of yoga participants are women. In addition to yoga, more women are attending CrossFit, Pilates and barre classes and need fitness shoes and clothes to accompany them.
Along with sporting a stylish workout outfit to the gym or a yoga class, fitness clothing has become a staple in women’s everyday fashion. Yoga pants, moisture-wicking jackets and tops, headbands, and running sneakers are no longer reserved for fitness. They have made their way to the street, where women can be spotted incorporating these sportswear products into their everyday outfits, whether they’re running errands or enjoying lunch with friends.
Active wear serves a multi-functional purpose, as it can be worn for exercising and any casual occasion. For this reason, women’s activewear is often referred to as Athleisure, which is fitness clothing that’s not actually worn for working out. A woman might not be buying this activewear with the intention of going on a long distance run or hitting the gym. They are purchasing Athleisure because it’s comfortable, stylish and makes them feel good about themselves.
In the past, wearing fitness clothing to the mall or happy hour wasn’t viewed as fashionable. Actually, it was seen as unusual. For many, being caught out in public in your gym clothes was much like being seen in your pajamas. But, that’s clearly no longer the case. In fact, in 2014, the sales of leggings and yoga pants continued to rise, while the sales of denim declined. NPF found the sales of women’s jeans declined 7% from March 2013 to March 2014. More expensive denim suffered the most, as the sales of jeans that cost $75 and up declined 32.5%, NPD reported. With the declining sales of denim, many jeans brands have been trying to hold on to their roots while making their clothes better appeal to consumers. Brands like Levis have been straying away from traditional denim jeans and toward the jegging – a pant that feels like a legging but looks like jeans. So, it seems brands are trying to cater their traditional staples to be more in tune with the Athleisure fad.
The popularity of Athleisure doesn’t seem to be declining any time soon. And, as more and more women take heed of the sporty, chic trend, the global sportswear market will continue to grow.