Athleisure Trend: How Did It Become The New Casual?

Athleisure Trend: How Did It Become The New Casual?

Written by Leong KexinJanuary 9, 2020

Athleisure Trend: How Did It Become The New Casual?

Wearing activewear on a day out is the new norm. With the casualisation of clothing – workplaces today are slowly adopting a more casual dress code – it’s no surprise that the athleisure trend become a global phenomenon.

How Athleisure Rose the Ranks

Maximising Functionality

Athleisure may be derived from sportswear but it isn’t necessarily subjected to the gym. The entire purpose of the trend is in its versatility and comfort for daily dressing. Modern technology has made athleisure more comfortable and convenient with properties like wrinkle-free and ‘dri-fit’ materials. 

The Millennial Cultural Shift

Millennials are a driving force behind the athleisure trend.  With the rise of trendy startup companies and workplaces, strict and formal dress codes are diminishing, as millennials prioritise comfort over traditional work clothes.

Mass Market Breakthrough

Fast fashion brands like Uniqlo, Cotton On and H&M are riding the wave of the athleisure trend, each releasing sportswear lines with affordable pricing. 

Here, we compare two similar women’s leggings from Nike and Cotton On Body.

athleisure trend nike vs cotton on
Bestselling leggings from Nike and Cotton On Body

In the pants & leggings category, Nike’s pricing ranges between $43.38 – $76.88, with a median price of $55.88. Cotton On Body’s median price, on the other hand, is $17.73 – one-third of Nike’s. 

athleisure trend nike vs adidas sellout
Comparing Q3 2019 sell-out performance for Nike, Adidas, H&M and Forever 21 (activewear segment)

The table above analyses the sell-out performance between fast fashion brands H&M and Forever 21 (activewear range) and activewear brands Nike and Adidas against the median price for Q3 of 2019. 

Interestingly, H&M had the highest sell-out percentage at full price, having sold more than 80% of its assortment online with minimal discounting. Nike comes in second, despite having the highest median price. Meanwhile, both Adidas and Forever 21’s sell-outs were mainly driven by discounts, as more than 60% of the assortments were on markdown. 

nike vs h&m athleisure trend
 A chart analysing the pricing strategies of Nike and H&M for the activewear segment

The following chart compares Nike and H&M’s pricing strategies. Nike deployed a “good-better-best” pricing ladder that allowed the brand to spread its assortment across various pricing tiers. However, the majority of its assortment was sold between $20 – $60 with a relatively high sell-out, maintaining a minimum 60% sell-out rate for each tier.

Conversely, H&M priced more than 40% of its products at the $10 – $20 range, even though the brand saw a higher sell-out performance at the $40 – $50 pricing tier. 

adidas vs forever 21 athleisure trend

A chart analysing the discounting strategies of Adidas and Forever 21 for the activewear segment

Lastly, we compared the discounting strategies of Adidas and Forever 21. Both of these brands had aggressive markdown strategies, with more than 60% of their sell-out driven by discounted items.

Celebrity Collaborations  

Pop culture also highly influenced the mass adoption of the athleisure trend. The dominance of hip hop music and streetwear among the Gen Z consumer group propelled the trend to new heights.

Source: Footwear News

Nike experienced a successful year in sneakers with the launch of several celebrity collaborations. Nike’s Air Force 1 collaboration with South Korean rapper, G-Dragon, sold out in just 0.06 seconds in China.

Source: Vogue 

Activewear powerhouse, Adidas, has devoted an entire diffusion line for its collaboration with Kanye West. While the collection started only with a limited sneaker range, Yeezy’s has since expanded to include clothing and accessories – contributing to a major share of Adidas’ collective revenue. 

Source: Instagram

Mega pop-star, Beyoncé excited fans by announcing teasers of her forthcoming Ivy Park collection. The sportswear brand garnered a strong following from previous collections (with Topshop) but this marks the first collaboration with Adidas, which is due to launch this year. 

Is the Athleisure Trend Here to Stay?

It’s safe to say that athleisure found its way into the hearts (and wardrobe) of many. The mass adoption of the trend within fast-fashion, sportswear and pop-culture demonstrate the influence of athleisure in the mainstream. 

As Marshall Cohen, the chief industry analyst at The NPD Group, Inc claims “this (athleisure) is no longer a trend – it is now a lifestyle that is too comfortable, for consumers of all ages, for it to go away anytime soon.” 

Receive Weekly Industry Roundups

Sign up to receive the latest industry insights, news and weekly updates delivered straight to your inbox.

You might also like

Navigate the crisis with Omnilytics

Learn how our fashion retail clients make better decisions with ecommerce analytics