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Global apparel market now worth $1.7trn thanks to athleisure growth

Lauretta Roberts
19 January 2017

The global apparel and footwear market is now worth $1.7trn, having grown by 4% in 2016, according to new figures released by Euromonitor International.

However the 4% growth represents the weakest growth since the global economic downturn of 2008 and would have been significantly weaker had it now been for the strong growth in sportswear, which was up 7% for the third year in a row.

But it isn't just pure activewear that is driving the growth but rather "sports-inspired" clothing, said Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International. "Although performance sportswear takes the lead in terms of market size, valued at $78bn in 2016, sports-inspired is the category driving growth. Both sports-inspired footwear and apparel is growing at a rapid pace, registering 10% and 6% growth in 2016, respectively," she said.

Growth in sports-inspired clothing, or so-called athleisure, is being witnessed in emerging markets such as India and Thailand, as well as "core" markets such as the US which, despite its reputation as a performance-orientated market, is recording significant sports-inspired growth.

Euromonitor Apparel

Some industry commentators have suggested the athleisure bubble has burst but Kissane dismissed this. "It seems the chatter around the demise of athleisure remains just that. Evolving from a trend that brands have dabbled in with capsule collections into a fully-fledged business opportunity, the continued strength of athleisure is highlighted by the launch of activewear brands such as Ivy Park and Tory Burch." she said.

"Furthermore, sportswear behemoths Nike and adidas continue to flex their fashion credentials by collaborating with designers such as Riccardo Tisci, Olivier Rousteing and Stella McCartney. With a wider selection and greater availability, sports-inspired products are gaining in popularity among a consumer base that seeks to incorporate sport-styled designs into their everyday wardrobe," Kissane added.

Elsewhere the numbers revealed that menswear growth at 4% was still outperforming womenswear, while childrenswear was outperforming both in terms of percentage growth due to "a mixture of macroeconomic and social trends".

Euromonitor predicts that apparel and footwear growth will continue with a CAGR of 2% in constant value terms to 2021, however the era of robust growth following the last recession could be over. "From Brexit and a Trump presidency to China’s new normal (slower) growth, combined with an increasingly crowded market and consumer priorities shifting towards experience over consumption, 2017 will prove to be a challenging year for many," Kissane said.

Image: Ivy Park

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