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Athleisure is here to stay as sportswear set to grow to £2.5bn

Lauretta Roberts
15 August 2017

The so-called Athleisure trend is here to stay and has been a major contributor to the growth in the UK sportswear market, which is set to increase by 8% to £2.5bn this year.

According to the latest report, The UK Sports Market 2017 to 2022, by business information and analytics provider GlobalData the overall clothing market in the UK is only set to grow by 2.1% this year proving the extent to which sportswear is outperforming other clothing segments.

The arrivals of non-specialists into the market and in particular ASOS, which is set to launch its sportswear line in November, will only help to fuel further growth, says GlobalData. H&M, Boohoo, Primark, New Look, Ted Baker, Topshop, Whistles and Superdry have all moved into sportswear lately but the arrival of ASOS is significant and likely to fuel further spend per head as a result of its "strong foothold in the market given the brand's broad appeal, fashion credentials and loyal shopper following".

"Sales growth in athleisure is set to peak in 2017 but it will remain a very popular category over the next five years, outperforming total clothing. The health & wellbeing trend, influence of high profile fitness bloggers and continued investment from the government in initiatives such as improving cycle routes will increase consumer participation in sport and exercise – providing retailers with a larger, more varied activewear customer base," said GlobalData retail analyst Fiona Paton.

"As fashion retailers such as New Look, Primark and ASOS invest in affordable, trend-led own brand sportswear ranges, female shoppers have access to more choice, will spend more on impulse and will purchase athleisure pieces in replacement of core casual wear items," Paton added. “GlobalData believes non sports specialists can lean on their fashion credentials and skills in interpreting seasonal trends quickly to ensure regular newness and that collections remain relevant, thereby forcing sports players such as Sports Direct to up their fashion game.”

While the non-specialists will apply pressure to sports-specific brands when it comes to trend, the latter do have the upper hand when it comes to in-store experiences however. "In order to compete in the increasingly crowded sportswear market, more premium brands must find ways of increasing destination appeal, such as working with high-profile celebrities or fitness and sports personalities and enhancing social engagement. Sweaty Betty, Nike and Lululemon are strong examples of brands already engaging with their customers via free gym classes, VIP discounts, and yoga and running clubs – services the non-specialists will find difficult to replicate," Paton said.

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