If you are a dedicated follower of fashion, you might have noted a particular trend infiltrating the catwalk and penetrating the high-street. We’re talking about the rise of activewear as daywear, which has got many designer fashion houses to sit up, take notice and respond with their own statement collections. Some are calling it the ‘back to school’ effect, which might rekindle the fitness promises made back in January, whatever the reason – activewear is big business ($83 billion by 2020 according to Morgan Stanley).

 

Beyond Nike and New Balance

Nike and New Balance are market leaders in the UK activewear market with snapping-at-the-feet competition from Sweaty Betty. However, just before the market leaders nestle down into complacency, Instagram followers have announced enough love in their hearts to promote activewear to daywear and a whole fleet of apparel companies have jumped on board. This includes Tory Burch who launched Tory Sport back in April (and got the nod from Anna Wintour) and Ivy Park which is co-owned by both Beyoncé and Topshop’s Sir Philip Green.

 

Changing Landscape

You only need to walk down your local high-street to sense the shift in product offering. What was once a street reserved for only designer daywear has shifted to offer running tights, crop tops, and even trainers. It’s this changing landscape that leads many brands to believe that the activewear market is penetrable, that its cherries are ripe for the picking but what does it really take to compete with industry giants like Lululemon ($2.1 billion in the 2015 fiscal year) and Nike (who generated $8.6 billion in the same year)? The answer; technical know-how, funding to scale up and a little leverage from a celebrity face never hurt.

Technical know-how

Consumers are more suspicious than ever and if activewear falls so obviously out of your brand’s remit, it’s best you don’t sell yourself as experts in the industry. Instead, open the door for collaborating experts – those in the field of activewear who can advise in a technical capacity. Even if the sportswear never sees more than a Waitrose, it seems savvy shoppers but value on performance.

 

Scale up

Emerging activewear brand Kit and Ace, highlights the key to getting ahead in a saturated market is to scale quickly and notably. Founder Shannon Wilson says “With any good idea, there is always a lot of competition. We wanted to get ahead of everybody else and create a strong presence.” For Kit and Ace, growth was 61 shops in 5 countries in just 2 years. However, while the rapid expansion is impressive, it’s worth noting that half of the Kit and Ace showrooms are pop-ups, which have allowed Kit and Ace to enter the market without full-scale commitment.

Celebrity power

The power of a celeb automatically opens doors. During its launch, Ivy League was available in Topshop, Nordstorm and Selfridges. Beyoncé even leveraged her own Instagram account to give the brand credibility before it was even available.

 

If you’re a retail brand that has identified the activewear trend as one for you, take comfort in the fact that Harper’s Bazaar is predicting that this trend has longevity right into winter and the power to withstand summer thanks to the staple statement crop-tops. Get your development, cash-flow and marketing strategy in-line and it’s a market that still has room for new entries – contact us to see how we can help.

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