True Fit’s Fashion Genome has analysed data from 17,000 brands and 180 million True Fit users. This analysis has confirmed that athleisure orders have jumped 84 per cent since the start of the pandemic; in the UK alone, the sales for women’s athleisure bottoms were five times higher in December 2020 than they were in April 2020. And order volumes for men’s athleisure clothing sales were 20 per cent higher than in 2019. American retailer Target also reported that its sales reached US $ 1 billion for its activewear portfolio All in Motion, which the brand had just launched before the pandemic. Further, Allied Market Research reports also mention that the global activewear industry is expected to reach a value of nearly US $ 547 billion by 2024.
Luxury athleisure is slowly becoming mainstream fashion and Adidas India has also in a recent move roped in Deepika Padukone as its official brand ambassador to strengthen its focus on democratising and diversifying sport for women.
Athleisure on demand
“Not necessarily expensive but people are ready to invest in good quality, conscious wear that are comfortable and can be used as multipurpose items. Especially with people spending so much time at home during the pandemic, it has made consumers crave comfort in their clothes along with fashionability. The pandemic has indeed boosted athleisure in a big way. The clothing being versatile and comfortable makes it perfect transitional product for people to have in their wardrobes that can be dressed up for a social gathering or even make the perfect WFH and staycation outfit. Once a customer experiences the comfort of athleisurewear and premium fabrics that we offer, it is almost impossible to go back hence making them loyal returning customers,” says Ria Mittal, Co-Founder, CAVA Athleisure.
Aarti and Ajit Virwani started Tuna London in the year 2014. The self-determined health-enthusiasts inherit business acumen from their long-drawn family repute of manufacturing customer-approved innerwear. But, Aarti admits that the journey had not been too easy in the beginning and the pandemic was actually an eye-opener for many and helped them make the brand’s backbone stronger with conscious collection. “We manufacture fitness-inspired clothing with utmost care while keeping in mind India’s unique climatic conditions and demographic needs. Our range of clothing is endurance tested and humidity resistant. The fabric we use, the production we depend on is not possible on a small price tag. Initially, it was not easy to convince the customer about the price tag. But eventually, especially after COVID and people becoming more health-conscious, the thought and message easily reached them. Certainly it is a big success for the athleisure segment and of course for the premium brands,” Aarti Virwani, Co-Owner, Tuna London mentions.
The rising demand
Ria notes that the journey has been challenging as they are selling an idea of comfortwear which people are not used to. “People spend a lot of money on uncomfortable pieces of clothing that they would only wear once but here at CAVA we are selling a good product that can be worn multiple times and is extremely comfortable which makes the process of selling athleisure more exciting! The reviews and feedback we get once customers try our products definitely keeps us going and is a huge sense of validation to what we are trying to build at CAVA. We are an Indian, homegrown, sister – duo! We just wanted to sell the idea of supporting small Indian businesses! Straight from being extremely conscious about picking sustainable fabrics, to having production solely done in India – we strive to provide alternatives to these fast fashion international brands. We design keeping in mind the Indian clientele but being an international standard of design. We have also conducted research on sizing specific to the Indian market which gives us an advantage in terms of fits as well!”
Aarti is fast to admit that people look for value and are ready to spend a good amount for it, she says and adds, “Value is key for Indians and if we take time to educate and explain them why something is pricey, then it makes a lot of difference. For us, the handmade approach makes us very unique among our competitors. Given our lineage, production process, material used –everything adds to the cost. This is what gives customer the value in their clothes. Conscious purchase has become a must today and customers don’t mind paying for quality. Now the onus is on us to make them feel comfortable along the customer journey, offering them the right product, with honesty.”
When talking about competition, Aarti happily mentions that the market is huge and the customer base is very healthy too. She is happy to see more brands coming into this space to capture their market share. “There is immense growth potential and a lot needs to be done in this space. Luxury athleisure is still a very niche space and the more brands line up to cater to this segment, the sooner this segment will grow. We are hopeful about the demands pulling up the market in the coming time,” Aarti highlights.
Ria points out that the market has a lot of scope and WFH and post-pandemic culture accelerate the athleisure market. Especially with airport looks and co-ord sets trending, they think everyone wants to buy into the athleisure and streetwear culture that is slowly gaining momentum in the Indian Market. “Mindful and conscious shopping in my opinion is synonymous with fashion these days. Customers are very interested in fabric compositions and sustainable practices when looking to buy from any new brand. The customers are at a stage where they wish to invest in more strategic products in their wardrobe that have a long life cycle rather than just shop for a one time wear,” she signs off.