The Business of Athleisure:
Leggings are the New Black

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“For me, it won’t be real until I see women at the gym, in the park, on the street wearing the collection, sweating in it, and loving it.” – Beyoncé Knowles

Now, unless you’ve been living under a sizeable rock for the past few weeks; you’ve probably heard, seen and maybe even bought into Beyoncé’s recent venture with Sir Phillip Green. No?

Ivy Park is the latest in a string of celebrity endorsed, high-street collaborations; featuring its dedicated co-founder and lead designer, Beyoncé, as the line’s model and muse. But what it is exactly that makes this 200-piece collection of power-leggings, branded sweatpants and sports bras that extra bit special?

One word… athleisure.

Ivy Park Beyonce athleisure - Stylight

Let’s Get Physical

The rise of athleisure has taken the fashion, sports and lifestyle scene by storm and it doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. A $97 billion dollar market, the fairly new but hugely popular trend fits like a dream to the Millennial’s ideology that it’s ‘hip to be healthy’.

Athleisure has become part of a mass cultural movement that focuses on wellbeing and self-improvement, and one that is, unsurprisingly, aimed towards women. Young consumers everywhere are aspiring more and more to the idea of a healthier and happier way of life, favouring freshly-pressed juices and early morning pilates to after-work drinks and fast food. All the while documenting their each and every move on Instagram.

“More and more women are blending running, fitness and sports style into their lives and this is fundamental to how (the athleisure market) this business operates,” – Nike Brand President, Trevor Edward.

It’s no wonder then that with an enviably fit, healthy and successful female role model like Beyoncé; those buying into the athleisure trend have been quick to snap up pieces from the entrepreneur’s sportswear line and ultimately, way of life.

But, as we all know, Ivy Park is not the first and definitely won’t be the last to take on the craze.

Fit-Fast-Fashion

Recent surveys highlight participation in group fitness and exercise classes are on the rise amongst young adults in the US. And of course, with increased gym time, comes a higher demand for clothing that not only accounts for performance and comfort but also style.

As a reaction to this consumer need for fashion and functionality, global names such as H&M, Topshop, Gap, Louis Vuitton, and more recently Zara, have all taken the plunge when it comes to producing their own branded activewear. In fact, Zara’s ‘Feel Good’ collection wants us to do exactly that. Chic, minimal and very, very affordable; the line exudes a ‘ready-to-wear meets athleisure’ vibe that wouldn’t look out of place whilst shopping down at your local supermarket.

And digitally, eCommerce giants Net-a-Porter have pioneered their very own luxury sporting category, ‘Net-a-Sporter’, after identifying activewear as one of, if not the hottest online sales category for 2016.

“Year over year, traffic to eCommerce sites [selling outdoor gear and apparel]is up 38% and visit spend is up 11%, nearly double the overall increase for digital commerce growth” – Demandware Strategic Initiatives director, Rick Kenney.

What’s with all the yoga pants?

Over the last 3 months, Canadian yogawear label Lululemon has witnessed its share price grow by 20%. A huge turnaround for a brand who only recently suffered at the hands of its former CEO and his infamous last words, “some women’s bodies just don’t work (for Lululemon)”.

Lululemon athleisure - Stylight

Changes in the brand’s popularity and athleisure appeal mean that Lululemon now expects sales to reach $695 million in this year’s fourth quarter with further plans to open up an additional 60 stores, including outlets in Europe and Asia.

Selling yoga pants for as much as $148 a pop; this type of expensive workout clothing has fast become the wardrobe staple for women not only to be worn at the gym, but all weekend.

Market Segmentation of Athleisure business - Stylight
“The athleisure trend towards sporty style is not only influencing what we wear at, and to the gym, but is also having an impact on our everyday wardrobes,” – Soozie Jenkinson, head of design at Marks & Spencer

And according to the NPD (National Purchase Diary), the humble yoga pant has done more than its fair share of stretching out profits. The key athleisure item saw an immense increase of 341% in new arrivals in just a single quarter during 2015. Whilst at the same time, the average price for a pair of pants shot up by 14%.

Blame it on our new found attitudes? These days people are more willing to spend their hard-earned money on items and experiences, including wearable tech, that help to improve their lives, rather than on material goods.

But look beyond athleisure’s fashion-directed functionality and you see that this trend can really offer something for everyone. And at any given price point. It’s never been cooler to be comfortable, whether that’s in the office, at a workout class or just all day, every day.  

And let’s face it, it’s 2016 and nothing says ‘chic’ like grabbing your coffee-to-go in full blown lycra.

|By Verity Charmer – Social Media Coordinator and Copywriter|

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