The Athleisure Movement Is Still Going Strong

Sports-inspired apparel and footwear, as well as activewear, drove growth of the global fashion market in 2016.
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Maria Bobila
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Sports-inspired apparel and footwear, as well as activewear, drove growth of the global fashion market in 2016.
Tim Coppens and Under Armour's UAS fall 2016 runway show during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Tim Coppens and Under Armour's UAS fall 2016 runway show during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Don't expect the athleisure bubble to burst anytime soon. According to Euromonitor's most recent research on the global apparel and footwear industry, performance sportswear is leading the market's growth with a value of $78 billion in 2016. And it's a good thing, since both Euromonitor and McKinsey found that, overall, the global apparel and footwear industry's growth in 2016 was the slowest since the 2008 recession. "Notably, performance would have been decidedly weaker had it not been for sportswear," says Euromonitor's Apparel & Footwear Analyst Bernadette Kissane. While the industry as a whole grew 4 percent last year, sportswear grew — for the third year in a row — 7 percent.

We've been watching the athleisure movement go on for some time now, even questioning whether the market had become oversaturated. But so far, designer-name activewear collections and up-and-coming labels are still chugging along: Beyonce's Ivy Park line, J. Crew's first-ever activewear collection with New Balance and the $7-million-funded, A.P.C.-backed brand Outdoor Voices were just a few of of last year's buzziest activewear stories. Plus, at New York Fashion Week in September, Under Armour debuted its UAS line by Tim Coppens, a collection of everyday apparel with sports performance qualities. Kissane points out that Under Armour is one to watch in the sportswear market, as the company has achieved its 26th consecutive quarter of at least 20-percent revenue growth. Overseas, Chinese consumers' choice of athleisure over luxury goods is still going strong, too.

While athleisure's demand continues to grow, sportswear brands are hiring more female, pop-culture-friendly spokesmodels for their campaigns. Nike launched a new line of leggings with musical artist FKA Twigs, as well as its New York-centric campaign with Bella Hadid. Big sister Gigi Hadid is the face of Reebok, while Puma has seen steady success with its trifecta of lady celebrity ambassadors, including Rihanna, Kylie Jenner and Cara Delevingne.

Athleisure's influence hasn't been limited to the fashion realm, either: the beauty industry is starting to see new brands and products geared towards an active lifestyle.

Something tells us 2017 won't be devoid of similar launches.

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