"UK Sportswear Market 2017-2022 report predicts 8.7 per cent growth this year, on top of estimated UK sportswear sales of £2.5bn in 2017. And the sector is changing swiftly to cater to ever-evolving consumer demands as the market matures. Global Data’s report reveals as a sector focussed on lifestyle, the latest developments in the market chime with growing wellness trend and the increasingly mindful consumer decisions of younger shoppers. As with fashion in general, activewear shoppers and brands are turning their attention to sustainable design in a new way."
UK Sportswear Market 2017-2022 report predicts 8.7 per cent growth this year, on top of estimated UK sportswear sales of £2.5bn in 2017. And the sector is changing swiftly to cater to ever-evolving consumer demands as the market matures. Global Data’s report reveals as a sector focussed on lifestyle, the latest developments in the market chime with growing wellness trend and the increasingly mindful consumer decisions of younger shoppers. As with fashion in general, activewear shoppers and brands are turning their attention to sustainable design in a new way.
Nick Paulson-Ellis, Founder, The Sports Edit, points out it’s sustainability in an innovative way with no compromise for consumer. There used to be an eco-friendly, sustainability angle within yoga wear that compromised performance. Now, it is about having no compromise on fashion, performance or function – and still being sustainable. Ellis says, recycled, sustainable materials both in clothing and activewear accessories (such as yoga mats or water bottles) as a focus, noting in particular legging brand Teeki’s recycled plastic leggings and Adidas’ Parley for the Oceans range, which uses recycled ocean plastics across clothing and footwear designs.
For brands and retailers looking to set themselves apart in the increasingly competitive sector, sustainable and ethical credentials can provide a much-needed point of differentiation. For Olivia Mcguire, head of design, London-based Jilla Active, sustainability is really important to customers. There’s so much competition in the sector, and it’s difficult to stand out. For Jilla Active, there is a big focus on sustainable fabrics and ethical practices. The consumer definitely wants to know more about what they are wearing.
The rise of seam-free activewear has been a recent shift as it evolves to a more multifunctional approach. Seamless is super comfortable as the fabric is really soft. The stretch factor is important too. Seconded Camille Roegiers de Silva, co-founder, Fashercise that there have always been certain brands that specialise in seamless, but now many other brands are introducing it into the mix. It is super-flattering, it offers compression. It’s a very cool look and is probably one of the biggest trends.
Streetwear is increasingly seeping into mainstream fashion with the merging of fashion and function, as bold logos and colours appear across collections. For activewear brand Ivy Park, streetwear meets sportswear with a performance element. Product that looks great out and about, but still functions really well. Ivy Park is really keen to push the performance elements of the range. It is not just about the casual collection any more.
Many retailers have been lately witnessing a surge towards plus size and that’s precisely the reason they are expanding their size range, moving beyond XS to L. Roegiers de Silva says, in the past brands that offered plus-size were not necessarily the most fashionable. Fashercise launched a dedicated ‘Curve’ section on its website in January, offering brands such as Day Won, Rainbeau and Ivy Park in a wide range of sizes.
Emily Gordon-Smith, Head of fashion, Stylus says this change is ‘long overdue’. Inclusive sizing is going to be bigger and bigger in times to come. A couple of standout players who are doing extended sizing in active really well are Nike and Asos. For autumn 18, Asos expects to see inclusive skiwear, maternity yoga pieces, as well as a full range of low-, medium- and high-impact (exercise) bras that cover Asos Curve and fuller bust. With the growing expanse, smaller labels are fast emerging in this segment to cater to niche demands and big-name brands shift to reflect and accommodate evolving consumers’ lifestyles, both in terms of practicality and ideals. Increasing sustainability and diversity are the highlights of the collection and athleisure is leading the way as brands aim to keep their competitive edge for demanding consumers.