In 2013, the hottest trend in retail wasn’t ripped jeans or leather – it was active wear.
Active inspired and true performance pieces like trainers and leggings have become the go-to items for women to buy for both fitness and fashion. In fact, the women’s active wear category grew 6.4 percent in 2013, which is nine times faster than the women’s general apparel market, according to NPD Group data.
Nancy Green, General Manager of Athleta, talked with employees recently about what that category growth means for the brand.
“What this growth is telling us is that women are shifting dollars from other categories into active wear,” Nancy said. “That’s hugely important to Athleta, not only because we play in the active space, but because we also have ‘to and from’ categories at Athleta like sweaters, outerwear and dresses.”
The fast-growing active wear category isn’t the only trend happening in the industry.
Brands are also seeing a macro-trend of clothing that is traditionally thought of for fitness appearing in fashion trends. High fashion-focused brands, including Chanel and Dior, are jumping on the “fitness meets fashion” trend and showing performance pieces on runways from New York City to Paris.
“There is a crossover happening with active wear moving into street style and what women now see as acceptable to wear everywhere in their lives,” Nancy said.
At its core, Athleta is a performance brand, so fitness will continue to be at the center of everything we do. Bringing together those fashion and performance elements is essential to creating premium quality, versatile products for our customers. The brand’s technical expertise is also a huge advantage.
“A lot of new players in the space are trying to capitalize on active wear trends,” Nancy said. “Athleta knows that technical expertise in premium performance is critical to succeed in this industry. It may be harder for fashion players to build credibility without it.”
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