Sportswear boom to outlast Covid as consumers prioritize comfort

The sportswear segment is in its glory days, benefiting from a need for comfort with more people at home and resuming fitness activities following the Covid epidemic across the world.

The pandemic has forced a lifestyle change that has seen people spend a lot of time at home and prioritize comfort and well-being.

But despite the transition from the height of the pandemic to ‘the new normal’, consumers seem unwilling to ditch sweatpants and sneakers in favor of more formal options, according to data obtained by the analytics company. and GlobalData advice which says, if anything, the way people dress, even in the office, is now more and more casual – retaining elements of formal wear such as shirts and pants – but incorporating casual and comfortable items such as sneakers.

Between 2015 and 2019, the share of sportswear in the total clothing market increased by three percentage points to reach 21.8%.

And in 2020 – the year in which we saw retailers around the world shut down in an effort to curb the spread of the virus – as clothing sales fell 19%, sportswear did not. fell only 7%.

Sportswear is here to stay, even though Covid never leaves

In a January survey of 23,000 shoppers in 29 global markets, GlobalData found that shoppers wore sportswear “a few times a week”, demonstrating its prevalence in their wardrobes.

Comfort is the most important factor among buyers when it comes to sportswear and it should be able to match sportswear with comfortable fabrics and flexible fits to wear from gym to gym. House.

Buyers have also indicated that they are likely to exchange for better-made, more durable items because they are worn so regularly.

The growing trend in athletic / athleisure wear is something that retailers and brands are quickly grabbing hold of, with like M&S, Asos, Primark and Boohoo all launching lines of athletic wear, and often, being able to offer lower prices and trendy styles compared to dedicated sports brands.


Insecurity is a long-term thing: Joggers, hoodies and leggings have become wardrobe staples during the Covid pandemic, but even now, when socialization resumes, shoppers have grown accustomed to the comfort that sportswear brings them and this. will be a go-to choice for many.

External opportunity: During the pandemic, many took vacations that included hikes and walks. This is expected to continue and items like quilted coats will continue to experience accelerated growth. Fashion brands should partner with brands specializing in outerwear to take advantage of technical expertise such as the collaboration that has been observed between Gucci and North Face.

Direct to Consumer Channel (DTC): DTC gives brands greater control over strategy and cost control. Brands such as Lululemon have mainly sold through its own channels, while Nike has prioritized DTC in recent years. At the end of May 2021, DTC represented 38.7% of its brand’s turnover.

Applications for engagement: Apps that see brands offer incentives and enable consumer engagement contribute to brand loyalty. This can range from running clubs to monitoring physical activity which, once recorded, offers points and rewards in return.

Sustainability is king: And will be in the foreseeable future. Brands are looking to innovate in sustainability after the pandemic. Patagonia is one of the pioneers in this field, encouraging people not to buy new services and to use the repair services advertised on its website. Other brands are testing sustainable running shoes such as ON Shoes, where consumers wear the shoe until it is worn out and then replace it with a new one. The program costs GBP 25 per month. However, this is a cost that many consumers may not be prepared to shoulder, as sustainability concerns are often outweighed by cost concerns.

Strategies for brand success in sportswear

  • Make sure the in-line channels are up to par. For example, all efforts to increase their reliance on direct consumer channels should focus on online platforms, both through the brand’s website and mobile apps. This is all the more important as Covid-19 has created a permanent shift in consumer behavior towards online shopping.
  • Collaborate with concerned athletes and teams to reinforce the credibility and the notoriety of the brand. This is especially important for new brands.
  • Recognize the importance of sport to capitalize on growth. For example, increased use of hiking and other outdoor activities due to Covid and increased interest in women’s tennis in the summer of 2021.
  • Optimize engagement with consumers to ensure loyalty in a highly competitive market, for example through their own apps or by partnering with sport-specific apps such as Schreiber and posting fitness classes or sporting events virtually or in person.
  • Incorporate trending elements into designs fully capitalize on the trend of casualization by ensuring that brands remain at the level of the market leader in terms of style references, for example by collaborating with designers and other brands.
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