Is sportswear positioned to go on a long term winning streak?

Discussion
Photo: Puma
Oct 07, 2021

The Bank of America (BofA) has identified five “megatrends” — some accelerated by the pandemic — representing tailwinds advancing sports apparel and footwear growth in the years ahead: health and wellness, female sports participation, hybrid working models, affordable luxury and sustainability.

Health and wellness – it’s a new, healthier world: BofA cited a number of surveys over the last year indicating that people across many parts of the world are placing a bigger emphasis on their health due to the pandemic experience. Sports participation has also received a boost. Government-led programs, including China’s recently-announced five-year mass fitness program, are also expected to lift activity levels.

Female sports participation – she’s on the move: Women’s participation in sports remains low. The 2021 Erasmus Sport Project ICOACHKIDS report found only 20 percent of girls across Europe playing major sports versus 80 percent for boys. Factors driving growth include ongoing efforts around gender equality, federal programs to promote female participation and heightened awareness of the benefits of sports on health and self-image, particularly for girls.

Hybrid working models – ditching shoes for sneakers: Post-pandemic, WFH (work-from-home), which has changed attitudes toward office wear, is expected to be more common. According to a survey by the Office Group in the UK, 68 percent of respondents reported dressing less formally when working at home in 2020, while 24 percent noted they wore gym clothing.

Sportswear as affordable luxury – street meets fancy: Luxury brands are embracing streetwear culture through collaborations with sportswear brands, elevating shoppers’ price expectations. BofA wrote, “Collaborative releases are often limited, driving brand heat in our view — especially among younger generations.”

Sustainable product lines – from trash to trainers: The number of sustainable SKUs offered by sports brands increased by an average of 58 percent from 2017 to 2020, according to a McKinsey study. BofA wrote, “We believe sustainability is an emerging driver of differentiation and brand heat, which resonates particularly with younger generations who are most conscious of the environmental impact.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect sportswear growth to outpace overall apparel and footwear categories in the years ahead? What pre- and post-pandemic category drivers do you see as most important?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Sportswear is inherently more flexible than other types of apparel, so it has more room to grow."
"Can you imagine wearing stiff slacks, dress shoes, a tie, and an uncomfortable jacket just because you’re at work? Heels? Stockings? Yeah, no. I’ll bet on sportswear."
"Throwing a jacket over a dark workout T-shirt is now an acceptable wardrobe on camera and in person."

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11 Comments on "Is sportswear positioned to go on a long term winning streak?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Sportswear will continue to outpace the market for the next few years at least. Part of this is because of an uptick in fitness as people are more conscious about wellness. However some is also down to consumers wearing sportswear for non-sporting activities such as working from home or relaxing. This latter trend has given rise to a lot of fusion ranges which blend the comfort, fit and functional fabrics of sports apparel with the style of casual and formal wear.

David Spear
BrainTrust

ABSOLUTELY! With many companies developing hybrid and/or remote work arrangements, there will be significant growth in “athleisure” clothing that looks sporty and is super comfortable. Taking myself as a data point of one, I have purchased more leisure clothing that can be worn to casual business meetings for any type of event. I have not thrown out my suits and ties, because there’s always a need for more formal attire, but the percentage of high quality, sharp looking, leisure type clothing in my closet is growing by the day!

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

First led by athleisure trends, the combination of more health and wellness-minded consumers seeking extended fitness options and the growth of work-from-home and hybrid work models where comfort becomes the number one concern will keep sportswear at the forefront of apparel sales. the rise of hybrid work is perhaps the biggest influencer among these trends, as office environments re-open with a greater concern for the comfort and well-being of employees to create a more productive environment. Add to this a desire by more consumers to see and purchase more sustainable products, this trend will be with us for many years.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Sportswear is inherently more flexible than other types of apparel, so it has more room to grow. It’s also a category where consumers welcome innovative design and creative materials use.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

If you include streetwear, fashion leisure and athleisure in the sportswear category, then it will definitely outpace overall apparel. But pure play sportswear and gym clothes have already begun to show signs of slowing growth. People have learned to love comfortable clothing during COVID-19. We have also renewed our focus on exercise and getting healthier. But there is a psychological element that makes us want a less casual look when we are working, both to convey outward professionalism but, more importantly, to trigger “work mode” in our brains. The bigger change to the apparel industry will be an expectation that all clothing should be comfortable, and sneakers do go well with skirts.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Sportswear has been on a winning streak for a while. COVID-19 accreted that trend as people started dressing more casual every day. Even with a return to the office, I don’t think we’ll see drop off in strong sales in this category, there is so much going for it. Newer high tech fabrics, new silhouettes that blur the line between “sports” and “leisure,” plus all of the reasons listed above. This is where the apparel market is really growing, and I expect it to continue to do so in the future.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Sportswear will absolutely outpace other apparel categories. And I don’t want to call it a continuation of athleisure because it’s not really about leisure. It’s about an active, healthy (for the person and the planet) and comfortable lifestyle. The neck tie may soon go the way of the buggy whip!

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Can you imagine wearing stiff slacks, dress shoes, a tie, and an uncomfortable jacket just because you’re at work? Heels? Stockings? Yeah, no. I’ll bet on sportswear.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Do I expect sportswear growth to outpace overall apparel and footwear categories in the years ahead? That’s a depressing thought. I am tired of seeing rack after rack of athleisure clothing in stores; I am over it and want more choices. And I know I am not alone. Comfortable clothing for sure, but better looking than sweats and leggings.

It’s ironic that in my trips to visit stores I see that the sales floor is full of athleisure wear but the customers shopping are not wearing it. Nordstrom had so much it had to utilize work horse fixturing you typically don’t see in its stores. Maybe Bank of America ought to spend quality time observing shoppers to see what they are actually buying. And wearing.

Gene
Guest
2 months 1 day ago

Retail has always been about change. Athlesiure is an extension of the denim business, which has been huge and growing forever. The world has been going more casual forever. That was the source of success for Gap and Levi’s and many others. This trend is just evolving and customers insist on newness in any trend. The rule in retail has always been, if you snooze you lose. Gap and Levi’s should be more innovative and keep reinventing the casual trend or they will go the way of Liz Claiborne and Lord & Taylor.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

I think sportswear, given its comfort level, will maintain its position the next few years. Don’t think gym shorts and Tank tops will be acceptable workwear going forward, but certain materials such as quick drying sweat wicking materials would find its way to work wear. Throwing a jacket over a dark workout T-shirt is now an acceptable wardrobe on camera and in person.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Sportswear is inherently more flexible than other types of apparel, so it has more room to grow."
"Can you imagine wearing stiff slacks, dress shoes, a tie, and an uncomfortable jacket just because you’re at work? Heels? Stockings? Yeah, no. I’ll bet on sportswear."
"Throwing a jacket over a dark workout T-shirt is now an acceptable wardrobe on camera and in person."

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