NPD: “Athleisure” Lifestyle Drives Fashion Sales Growth in 2014

In Industry Experts, What's New by Accessories Staff

Debuting at NYFW: "adidas yeezy made by Kanye West"

Debuting at NYFW: “adidas yeezy made by Kanye West”

Port Washington, NY—Total U.S. apparel, footwear and accessories sales in 2014 were up1% due primarily to growth in activewear, athletic performance footwear and bags.

According to The NPD Group, Inc., the global information company, U.S. consumers spent $323 billion on apparel, footwear, and accessories last year. The additional $2 billion in sales can be traced back to the athleisure lifestyle.

“Casual and ‘athleisure’ have taken on a life of their own,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “This 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.”

Overall, U.S. fashion industries performed well in 2014, each experiencing some growth, though apparel sales remained basically flat compared to 2013. Women were the wearer segment that drove apparel sales, in footwear the focus was on children, and in accessories it was men.


Activewear was the clear driver across all consumer segments in apparel, especially among women where dollar sales increased 8% compared to 2013. In line with the athleisure and casualization movement, sales also grew among sports bras, polo/golf/rugby tops, sports jerseys, and leggings.

The footwear industry aligned with the apparel industry as athletic footwear, and more specifically performance styles, drove growth for men, women, and children in 2014. However, it was children’s athletic footwear that accounted for the largest dollar volume increase across the entire footwear industry, with a 9% increase in sales compared to 2013.

The gains across all accessories categories in 2014 were a reflection of growth in sales of products worn by men, especially bags with a 35% increase in dollar sales, and jewelry with a 24% increase.

NPD partnered with Accessories magazine on the 2014 Census of women’s accessories business. That report will be available in Accessories’ March issue and later as a download on

“The status quo won’t work anymore, as the fashion industry has undergone one of the most dramatic makeovers in recent history – no doubt influenced by the Millennial consumer,” added Cohen. “There is an underlying sense of rebellion that comes through in today’s fashion, but self-expression and creativity also enter the picture, and history has shown that trends driven by such emotion are ones that evolve quickly. Designers and marketers alike need to be at the ready with something new and different that will evoke and reflect equally strong feelings for all consumers in 2015 and beyond.”