Active wear is still a relatively small portion of the total US men’s and women’s apparel market. Non-active casual wear represents more than half of the industry’s annual sales. Active wear continues to grow but casual fashion with special features is driving industry growth.
Today’s casual fashion is different from what was once referred to as sportswear in the American fashion industry. Consumers are looking for their clothing to do more. American sales of non-active casual wear apparel that has special features like stain-resistance, wicking, antimicrobial, and wrinkle-resistance grew seven per cent in the past year, with nearly every applicable category contributing to the growth. Today’s consumer is mixing and matching their clothing styles, price points, brands, and retailers. Non-active casual wear is maintaining its place in the consumer’s closet. Wardrobe staples like casual pants, golf/polo/rugby shirts, and jackets and blazers are making a comeback.
Specialty and department stores are top in terms of overall sales of casual wear apparel, with 29 per cent and 15 per cent of the market respectively. But off-price retailers aren’t far behind, with 14 per cent of sales. Growth is being driven by off-price and manufacturer-owned/direct-to-consumer stores, illustrating changes in the ways in which consumers shop and the new apparel retail landscape.