Now more than ever, fitness-conscious consumers, and especially young adults, are using as everyday apparel sportswear which had been worn exclusively in gyms for workouts. This category of clothing, known as Athleisure, a combination of the terms athletic wear and leisure wear, is filling a market need in the trillion-dollar sports apparel and footwear markets for gear that is stylish and functional rather than merely functional.
Technological innovations related to textiles have made clothing and footwear more lightweight, breathable and waterproof, allowing wearers to easily and comfortable perform everyday activities. Increasingly, the “yoga pant look” – slouched tee and hooded sweatshirt – is becoming commonplace among yoga enthusiasts and those who don’t participate in such exercise.
The increasing popularity of Athleisure clothing stems from consumers becoming more health conscious amid stress related to work and home life. As people who work engage in fitness regimens that include swimming, running and gym workouts, demand for clothing in this category has increased over the past several years.
Most performance wear and Athleisure clothing are made to produce a cooling effect with regard to perspiration. Although “wicking” is an established feature of athletic and leisure wear, an influx of high-tech fabrics on the market have increased the effectiveness of this feature. Traditionally, wicking properties have been present exclusively in slick-feeling shirts made from synthetic materials. Today, cotton products wick moisture as well as their synthetic counterparts.
As the distinction between workout clothes and fashion wear continues to blur, color blocking, track suits and metallic prints are coming into, or back into, fashion as the case may be.
Color blocking brightens athletic wear by complementing traditional grays and blacks with bright strips, color chunks and bold patchworks, adding color to workouts and wardrobes alike.
Track suits are more fitted than in the past while continuing to provide an equal or greater level of comfort to wearers.
As for metallic prints, those shiny “statement pieces” give women’s activewear a glossy finish while making them feel fashionable as they work out. In fact, Pantone’s Color of the Year is called Living Coral, an orange-y shade that “energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.”
Just as more creatively-designed clothing and a wider range of choices has helped to increase the appeal of Athleisure among millennials, consumers in older demographic groups are also responding positively to the fusion of workout gear and fashion wear.
Whether these trends continue has a lot to do with the economy’s performance. If things continue as they’ve been going, the demand for Athleisure clothing will also remain strong. A slowdown, however, could have the opposite effect.
Regardless of which way the economy goes, one thing is for certain. Innovations in textile technology will continued to occur to the benefit of consumers and manufacturers alike.
The expression “may you live in interesting times” can be considered a blessing or a curse, depending upon your point of view. From our perspective, it’s a blessing because interesting times are challenging and provide opportunities to think and act creatively in ways that are mutually beneficial to supply chain partners and consumers.
What have your experiences been with Athleisure products? As a part of the supply chain? As a consumer? Both?
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