The Rise of Athleisure

1 minutes reading time
Published 30 May 2024
Author: Emil Persson
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson

Most large athletic apparel companies share a somewhat similar story when it comes to the products they produce and sell. Most of them started off selling specialized equipment and shoes for sports before slowly but surely turning into more diversified lifestyle companies. This can in part be explained by a fashion trend that has its origins in the 00s, but that truly came into its own in the mid-2010s: athleisure. Join us as we take a look at the trend, what it is, and how companies have been impacted by and helped to mold this fashion trend.

Key Insights

  • A closer look: Athleisure has changed the way designers think about how they manufacture and design fitness apparel.

  • Athleisure has Changed the Fitness Industry: The athleisure trend is big business and has forced companies in the sector to adapt.

  • Part of a Larger Trend: The athleisure fashion trend has been part of a larger cultural shift towards fitness.

What is Athleisure?

So first and foremost: what is athleisure? The name is, as you might’ve already guessed, a portmanteau of the words athletic and leisure. It is a type of clothing designed to be worn both for athletic activities and in casual, everyday settings. It combines elements of workout gear with regular casual wear, offering comfort and style. Typical athleisure items include leggings, yoga pants, joggers, hoodies, and sneakers. These pieces are made from performance fabrics that are breathable, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, making them suitable for exercise but also comfortable enough for all-day wear. Athleisure is not limited to a specific age group or demographic. It is popular among young people who appreciate its style and versatility, as well as older individuals who value its comfort and practicality.

Driving Factors Behind the Trend

The rise of athleisure can be traced back to increasing awareness of the importance of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. As more people incorporate exercise into their daily routines, there has been a growing demand for clothing that supports an active lifestyle without sacrificing comfort or style. Athleisure meets this need by offering versatile apparel that can be worn for a workout and throughout the rest of the day, blurring the lines between gym clothes and casual wear. One key driver is the growing emphasis on health and wellness, fueled by widespread access to information about fitness and nutrition. Social media platforms have played a significant role in promoting fitness culture, with influencers and celebrities showcasing their active lifestyles and fashionable workout attire. This has created a strong demand for stylish yet functional athletic wear.

Another contributing factor is the shift towards more casual dress codes in many workplaces and social settings. As remote work and flexible schedules become more common, people are opting for comfortable, multipurpose clothing. Athleisure fits well into this trend, offering pieces that are both practical and fashionable.

Athleisure Allows Sportswear Companies to Diversify Their Offerings

The athleisure trend has revolutionized the sportswear industry, providing companies with lucrative opportunities to diversify their offerings beyond traditional workout attire. This shift has enabled brands to tap into new revenue streams, positioning themselves not just as providers of sportswear but as lifestyle brands catering to a broader consumer base. Historically, sportswear companies focused on performance-oriented apparel designed specifically for athletic activities. However, the rise of athleisure has blurred the lines between activewear and everyday clothing. Companies have responded to the demand by creating versatile products that can seamlessly transition from the gym to casual settings. For instance, leggings, initially designed for yoga or running, have become a staple in everyday wardrobes, often paired with tunics or jackets for a casual, but stylish look.

Athleisure has broadened the appeal of sportswear to demographics that might not have previously considered purchasing from these brands. While traditional sportswear primarily targeted athletes and fitness enthusiasts, athleisure attracts a more diverse audience. This inclusivity has allowed companies to reach segments such as busy professionals, students, and fashion-conscious consumers, significantly expanding their market base away from those strictly interested in fitness.

Incorporation of Fashion Elements

The athleisure trend has prompted sportswear companies to incorporate fashion-forward elements into their designs. Collaborations with high-end designers and celebrities have become commonplace, resulting in collections that combine performance features with contemporary aesthetics. These collaborations not only enhance brand visibility but also allow companies to command higher price points, thereby increasing profit margins. For example, partnerships between sportswear giants like Adidas and fashion icons like Stella McCartney have produced lines that appeal to both fashion and fitness markets alike, further blurring the line between them.

Quartr Pro is revolutionizing professional public market research

Request a personal demo to learn why Quartr Pro is quickly being adopted by leading asset managers, hedge funds, investor relations departments, and sell-side analysts worldwide.


Athleisure is Big Business - and Continues to Grow

The fitness industry is growing significantly year-over-year, and the athleisure trend is a significant business opportunity for brands like Nike, Under Armour, and other companies in the space. According to research by Allied Market Research, the athleisure market is projected to be worth over $3.2 billion by 2032.

Lululemon Drove and Thrived on the Athleisure Trend

While we started this article by describing how many traditional athletic wear companies started out providing sports equipment and functional clothing built for exercise, there is a clear example of a company going down a different path: Lululemon. The company was founded in 1998 and initially focused primarily on yoga pants. As the years progressed and the athleisure trend was born out of clothes built for yoga, Lululemon was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the new trend. The style had always been a guiding force and mantra behind Lululemons design language, and when athleisure began to take off in earnest Lululemon quickly emerged as one of the leaders in the space.

Athletic Apparel Companies Becoming Lifestyle Companies

While Lululemon was able to build much of its growth and business from the athleisure trend, pretty much all companies in the fitness apparel industry have been forced to adapt to the changed market dynamics. Many customers are now looking for clothes that are functional enough to go for a run in, while also being stylish enough to wear while running errands or grabbing lunch with friends.

But there's another aspect of this as well: customers have come to expect these types of offerings from brands. In the early days, companies like Nike and Adidas focused solely on shoes, eventually moving into sports apparel built strictly for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. As consumer preferences evolved, companies started to offer more casual clothing in the 80s and 90s, slowly but surely starting to mold into lifestyle brands. This is something that then continued as athleisure took off, and today consumers expect to find clothes that are not only functional but stylish as well.

Closing Thoughts and Future Outlook

The future of athleisure looks promising, driven by continuous lifestyle shifts and fashion trends. As more people embrace active and health-conscious lifestyles, the demand for athleisure is expected to remain strong. In conclusion, athleisure is not just a fashion trend but a significant business segment with substantial growth prospects. Its ability to combine comfort, style, and functionality has revolutionized the fitness industry, creating a market that shows no signs of slowing down.

Why are finance professionals around the world choosing Quartr Pro?

With a broad global customer base spanning from equity analysts, portfolio managers, to IR departments, the reasons naturally vary, but here are four that we often hear:

Increase productivity

Eliminate hours of searching for specific data points buried deep inside company material.

Get a one-stop-shop solution

Everything you need for qualitative public market research in one single platform.

Uncover rare insights

Understand the qualitative aspects of entire industries or specific companies.

Leverage the power of AI

Incorporate AI functionality into your daily workflow.