Athleisure, a term that is a juxtaposition in its own right, has redefined the norms of fashion. As the who’s who of the fashion world make ‘sporty’ looks mainstream, more and more shoppers are trading in denims and summer dresses for yoga pants and mesh T-shirts. Be it a fitness freak or somebody hopping to the mall for a quick latte, athleisurewear has found its ratification in all spheres of casual fashion.
It is this snowballing demand that has pushed athleisure and activewear market out of obscurity to the forefront. As more and more brands crop up to make hay while the sun shines, the market is slated to touch US $ 350 billion in 2020 globally.
India has never been far behind in emulating the West when it comes to fashion trends and this can be witnessed in the colossal jump in India’s share in the market year-after-year. As per the Allied Market Research report, India is expected to rise at a CAGR of 13.9 per cent in the global activewear market. In fact, athlesiure as a category has transcended the growth of other apparel categories, according to industry experts.
A distinct opportunity
Activewear is growing by leaps and bounds owing to the millennials’ newfound fixation for being fit. Not only has this given rise to innumerable fitness gyms in India and abroad, but it has also pushed the demand for dedicated clothing category equally.
However, not many brands have been able to ace the game when it comes to offering both price and quality, apart from the international sportswear conglomerates like Puma, Adidas, Nike and Reebok. The premium international brands that might be lesser known to the Indian audience, did not have a corridor to this market before the inception of Mazeix. Aiming to bridge the gap between ready-to-wear and fitness apparel, the venture was born out of the necessity to facilitate consumers to wear garments that could render themselves from gym to lunches to dinners to movies, essentially apposing style and comfort into one outfit. The glaring gap in the Indian market presented itself as the right opportunity to delve into.
“I realised that there’s a huge gap in the market for activewear in India as I was buying clothes not because I liked them but because they were available. After a lot of research, the idea to give people access to international brands exclusively at Mazeix was born. An emerging market like India deserves the best of the brands that retail in the likes of Harrods, Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue the world over,” says Manisha Gupta, Founder and CEO, Mazeix.
Manisha, being a headstrong businesswoman, has built a brand for women, by women. Even the collections, which are divided according to the four seasons, are carefully hand-picked and curated to suit the chic fashion aesthetics of their target audience and the portfolio of brands majorly consist of brands by women.
The brand has gained massive popularity among women with over 5,000 visitors on its website fortnightly ever since its recent inception. On an average, each order garners the company anywhere from Rs. 6,000-Rs. 7,000.
A protean approach
It cannot be denied that athleisurewear has come up as a fresh category only in the last 5 years globally. India might have been slow to catch on for the first few but presents a burgeoning scope to monetise the industry.
Many brands like HRX, Wrogn, C9, Prowl, Cultsport and Silvertrack have already marked territories to rope in the evolving Indian consumer who is becoming increasingly conscious of trends and the appropriate outfits for different spheres of life.
Over and above providing athleisure and activewear, Mazeix looks to cater to every associated need of women. The products are inclusive of all size, are internationally sourced and made in USA, UK and Canada. The online portal does not only want to restrict itself to e-commerce. It plans to stock at various gyms and pilates’ centres across India along with venturing into pop-up stores.
Offline retail is also in the pipeline for the company which aims to provide holistic experience to shoppers with facilities to eat, workout and shop, in concept stores by next year.
Talking about the importance of customer experience for Mazeix, Gupta expresses, “We provide a seamless service to our customers. Our website is user-friendly and they can easily navigate to find whatever they are looking for. Customer satisfaction is very important to us and we aim to provide a reliable experience at every touchpoint. The customers are kept up-to-date with our new collection by sending them e-mails and the new lookbooks from time to time.”
Mazeix is enjoying being the first mover in the category of premium activewear in India. It has intelligently caught on to a niche and while the start-up is still bootstrapped, it will soon start looking for investors. The funding will be employed in further diversifying the brand in terms of collections, SKUs and categories.
The company prides itself in providing high quality fabrics and premium international brands which are available in world’s best departmental stores. In the words of Manisha, “Our price points are also for premium buyers who want not just activewear but active fashion which they can wear anywhere easily. There are no other brands catering to this market in India. But at a lower price point, our competitors are Under Armour, Nike, Puma, Superdry among others.”
The future is athleisure-sure
The industry has openly embraced the concept of athleisure garments with celebrities driving the trend and retailers from luxury to mass supplying it. However, it is imperative to be privy to the course of the market in future to ensure success.
The furore around wellness, in general, and fitness, in particular, has achieved prominent social media worth. The desire to project an active and healthy lifestyle online is pushing consumers to embrace wellness fashion. By helping people transition smoothly from workout to casual attire, athleisure fashion is answering the real demand from consumers who seek balance in their hectic lifestyle.
Sustainability is another facet gaining traction in the retail sector. In order to appeal to the growing mindful shoppers, sustainable and ethical credentials can provide a point of differentiation for brands and retailers looking to set themselves apart in the increasingly competitive wellness-focused lifestyle sector. Millennials and Generation Z consumers are particularly sensitive to the sustainable values of a brand. Over 85 per cent of them say that their purchase decisions are indeed influenced by a brand’s values.
Diversity and sustainability are overarching themes when it comes to driving brand value. No segment has spared the opportunity of getting more inclusive and athleisurewear is no exception. Mazeix is one of the very few companies in India that caters to women of all sizes.
Also read: Smart athleisure for smarter workouts