Sports fashion is in revolution.
It is a serious revolution that will change the course of the future when it comes to sports fashion.
While women haven’t been completely ignored by athletics retailers in the past, sportswear was traditionally a men’s market.
“I think for a long time athletic brands said, ‘We can just shrink it and pink it and that will be good enough for the female consumer.’ And good enough is not good enough anymore.”
Senior Vice President of Puma North America Retail
Women's sports fashion is now more than in
Women are leading the athleisure movement, which has transformed how many consumers think about athleticwear, and consequently how retailers design their products.
The women’s sports fashion apparel market in 2018 was valued at $26.8 billion, according to data from Euromonitor International, compared to $80.1 billion for the total sports apparel market. That’s led the major sportswear players to shift more focus to the women’s market, which is smaller and represents a greater growth opportunity.
The top three sports fashion brands, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, which were also the top three men’s activewear brands in 2018, according to The NPD Group, overnight they became female.
Nike became the top spot in women’s sports fashion, followed respectively by Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret, Under Armour, Adidas, Athleta, Victoria’s Secret’s Pink and Old Navy. Lululemon grew faster than Nike in the U.S. women’s market and if the current trajectory holds, NPD predicts Lululemon will surpass Nike as the top women’s brand, though it’s unclear when.
In other words: the female athletics consumer is here, and brands in the space are jumping at the chance to provide her with as much performance-based casualwear as she’s willing to buy. That means a renewed focus on catering to the female athlete, who was at one point 50% of its business, rather than just adapting male products to fit the female body.
Health and wellness became like a new luxury for women. So not only investing in gym memberships, they’re also spending more on clothing and footwear as well. I think that female consumers differ from guys in that they’re choosing sports fashion that features both fashion and comfort for a day-to-day lifestyle. They are looking for clothes that they can wear for many different social occasions from going to the gym or going to make social errands, things like that.
“Athleisure wear became a new norm — it’s not just a trend anymore. It’s everybody’s everyday outfit now.”
Fashion and Luxury Consultant at Euromonitor International
In the world of women's fashion, the most important are women's experiences
Sports fashion became a new norm — it’s not just a trend anymore. It’s everybody’s everyday outfit now.
In the early 2000s, women made up about 50% of Puma’s business, Kahn said, but that number shrank to “probably around 30%” at the brand’s lowest point. Now, it’s approaching 50% again, which he attributes to the brand repositioning to focus again on the space where athletics meets fashion.
These issues risk putting brands at odds with their own marketing messages. They also point to a concern that there aren’t enough women in executive or board positions.
“I think these companies are finally waking up and realizing, ‘Oh, women spend money too and maybe we should actually have some employees that know how they think,’” Susan Anderson, managing director and senior equity research analyst with B. Riley FBR, told Retail Dive.
Homma is cautiously optimistic about the way things are progressing: “Smaller startups are owned and run by more females,” she said, nothing that things in the industry are changing. We are speaking up.
These facts feels a lot like the tip-off of a great game in athletics retail — and women may play a key role this time.