Athleisure, once a niche fashion statement, has become a ubiquitous lifestyle movement that experts agree is here to stay. In its annual report, “Athleisure Pulsecheck,” Trendalytics delves into how the athleisure movement has continued to explode in 2017 and blur the line between fashion and function. According to the report, athleisure has conditioned the consumer to expect high-performance products across categories.
In accessories, the rise of the Stan Smith has spawned an explosion in demand for white sneakers and driven interest for branded product in a time when consumer searches are largely unbranded. Trendalytics reports searches for branded sneakers including the Adidas Superstar, Adidas Gazelle and Nike Cortez are at least four times the number of searches for “white sneakers.” Other brands including Greats, Cole Haan, Converse and Common Projects have seen a rise in demand for their rendition of the white kicks.
The retro sneaker’s popularity is part of a larger movement, donned “Sportcore,” that has contributed to the rise of heritage sport labels like Fila, Champion, Reebok and Puma along with industry titans Adidas and Nike. To bring these classics into 2017, brands developed key partnerships with high-end labels and influencers, such as Reebok’s collaboration with Vetements and brand ambassador Gigi Hadid.
The report affirms that star power provides crucial leverage in this market. When Rihanna brought her golden touch to Puma with the Fenty x Puma footwear line, searches for “Bow Slides” exploded—now up 1,000% from last year—turning the item into an athleisure staple. Kendell Jenner and Sophia Vergera were early adapters of the “dad hat” trend, which now garners more searches than “baseball hat,” according to the report.
Amid the rise of retro styling, the demand for high-tech accessories is higher than ever, with brands like Fitbit and Wisewear continuing to gain traction. “Consumer expectations have fundamentally changed,” the report reads. “They now demand more of the clothes they wear, the mattress they sleep on and the food they eat.” Searches for “compression leggings,” are up 22% from last year, searches for “sweat wicking” climbed 15%, and interest continues to grow in clothing containing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor)—jumping 7x in the last month. Brands continue to innovate in the category, like Wearable X, whose Nadi X leggings contain sensors designed to guide a wearer’s yoga flow with gentle pulses around the knees, hips and ankles.
Although the market is densely saturated, Trendlytics writes that innovation is the key to staying relevant. Additionally, brands can leverage product that serves emerging fitness trends beyond yoga and running, like MMA, CrossFit, and cycling. Unique retail concepts also provide entry, like Lululemon and Bandier’s offering of brand-sponsored fitness classes. The report notes, “Interesting and ephemeral experiences are essential to driving brand loyalty in the age of the cheating consumer.”