"Retail analysts closely following the US apparel trends feel the athleisure trend is going to end soon. The insight came as Dick’s Sporting Goods reported its same-store sales performance up by a weak 0.1 per cent in the second quarter. John Zolidis, President of Quo Vadis Capital, pointed out skidding athleisure sales contributed to lackluster revenues at Big Five Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, Lululemon, Under Armour and Nike."
Retail analysts closely following the US apparel trends feel the athleisure trend is going to end soon. The insight came as Dick’s Sporting Goods reported its same-store sales performance up by a weak 0.1 per cent in the second quarter. John Zolidis, President of Quo Vadis Capital, pointed out skidding athleisure sales contributed to lackluster revenues at Big Five Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, Lululemon, Under Armour and Nike. Some of these stores should be benefiting from the Sports Authority closing 450 stores across the nation last year after the large sporting-goods chain filed for bankruptcy. Southern California–based Sport Chalet also filed for bankruptcy last year, shuttering 47 stores.
As per The NPD Group, activewear sales for men, women and children added up to $45 billion for the 12 months ending in June, which is not even a marginal growth in the business. In comparison, non-activewear totaled $170 billion in sales for the 12 months ending in June, down slightly from a year ago. Athleisure is still growing but slowing. Part of the slowdown is the nature of the product, feels Marshal Cohen, Retail Analyst, The NPD Group. Cohen says, athleisure has entered that area where everyone is getting into the game and prices are coming down rapidly. Target is putting together a good sports bra for $19 and an athletic bottom for $39 compared to other brands that sell a bra for $79 and a bottom for $120. Then there is the fashion part of it, which doesn’t change much. Leggings are leggings with only a few things such as prints changing seasonally.
Offering another perspective, Roseanne Morrison, Fashion Director, The Doneger Group, a trend forecasting and retail advisory company in New York, points out people are still working out. Girls are extremely competitive about what they are wearing, and they want to keep up with the trend, look their best and see what other people are wearing. This lifestyle trend to be fit and well is a shift in our culture.
Deborah Weinswig, a global retail analyst and MD, Fung Global, also feels the same way and believes it has enough energy to keep jogging. However, it does appear to be entering a new phase. Consumers still want to incorporate sport-styled designs into their everyday wardrobe. Athleisure for men is one area that continues to gain momentum. That was seen at athleisure retailer Lululemon Athleta, which now sees menswear making up 20 per cent of its total revenues.
Manik Aryapadi, Principal-retail practice, AT Kearney, is of the view athleisure has grown at a double-digit pace over the last three years but is hitting some headwinds. Retailers fear Amazon will be stepping into the arena with their own private athleisure label, adding to the fact that the field is already crowded as more companies enter the category. There are possibilities that Amazon could partner with a big athleisure brand, much like it did with Nike. By 2021, Amazon is expected to account for 16.2 per cent of apparel sales, or $62 billion, followed by TJ Maxx and Macy’s.
Innovation still driving athleisure
Innovation is going to draw the game here in a big way. Outdoor Voices, a relatively young athleisure retailer started in 2013, is attempting to bring in innovation in this space. Recently it collaborated with French cult retailer APC to develop a limited collection that had well-fitting and long-lasting pieces that could be worn every day. Currently, Outdoor Voices has three stores and three pop-ups, with one at The Grove in Los Angeles, but it is planning to expand its store footprint this year and next, giving athleisure a new look and a new voice.