The Casualization of American Apparel: Will the Athleisure Trend Stay or Go?

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Athleisure wear currently represents 24 percent of total apparel industry sales and is forecast to grow through 2019, reports The NPD Group's Future of Apparel study. The trend of wearing athleisure wear for daily activities other than going to the gym took hold slowly and the question is does it have long-term staying power?

“I’m often asked if the athleisure trend is going to fade away, and the answer is no,” says Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor-retail. “When you have comfort and function combined with fashion it’s difficult to go back to anything else on a regular basis.”

Activewear currently represents 24 percent of total apparel industry sales and is forecast to grow through next year, according to the recently released Future of Apparel study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Yoga pants, sweatpants, hoodies, and other activewear are now fashion staples in the U.S. for lots of activities other than going to the gym. This trend, which some say is more an evolution than a trend, is dictionary-defined as athleisure and it took hold gradually as societal norms changed, like casual dress in offices, raised health and fitness consciousness, and the want for comfort and versatility eclipsing the need to dress up.

“I’m often asked if the athleisure trend is going to fade away and the answer is no,” says Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor-retail. “When you have comfort and function combined with fashion it’s difficult to go back to anything else on a regular basis.”

In the 12 months ending June 2018, NPD’s ongoing tracking of apparel purchases finds that sales of total sweatshirts increased by double-digits and active bottoms by 5 percent. Total dollars in sweats/active bottoms categories is expected to grow through 2019 on strong performances across various activewear categories, finds NPD’s Future of Apparel study, which includes forecasts through 2019 for key apparel categories along with consumer insights and analysts’ viewpoints.

Athleisure’s staying power and growth is also due to the fact it has mainstreamed across ages and demographics. As an example, social shoppers, a consumer segment identified in the Future of Apparel report who represent the largest portion of the population, are indicative of the athleisure consumer. They consider themselves to be social, fashion, and image conscious and activewear is a big part of their future purchase plans.

“The athleisure movement and influence on fashion continues to be a primary driver of growth opportunity for the apparel industry,” says Cohen. “Other apparel categories are declining, which tells us that consumers are getting just what they need and want in athleisure wear. There is no doubt that the category will continue to evolve but it’s definitely here to stay for the foreseeable future.”

About The NPD Group
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food / foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games. For more information, visit http://www.npd.com and npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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Kim McLynn
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