The rise of Athleisure: from fitness to fashion - K3

Bringing the world of style and sports together currently athleisure is one of the hottest trends influencing the fashion industry. Defined as “casual clothing to be worn for exercising and general use”, items such as leggings, hoodies and sneakers are becoming more acceptable to wear out socially and not just limited to the gym. Athleisure sales are up 8% year on year resulting in a £2.5bn share of the UK fashion market in 2017.  Sportswear has become one of the biggest areas for market growth battling high street clothing chains, and many retailers are rushing to cash in on the trend.

The athleisure explosion has been fuelled by an Instagram led cult of healthy living and clean eating. Scrolling through Instagram, ‘celebrities’ are posting pictures of their green juices, 30 second snap shots of their gym routines and more prominently their new gym leggings and matching crop top.

The growth of the trend has allowed new start-ups to grab a healthy slice of the UK fashion market. Within the last four years, brands such as Gym Shark, Under Armour and Gym King have dominated both the high street and online UK market. Thriving names in the British athleisure scene, these brands successfully utilitise online influencers to help drive sales.

One brand that dominates the UK athleisure market is Gym Shark. Created in 2012, the fitness apparel and accessories brand sells directly to the consumer online. Reaching a worldwide audience, the company leverages the power of social media influencers through both Instagram and YouTube. Their Gymshark athletes encourage millennials to invest in fitness clothing that can be worn not only in the gym but on the street. The company now turns over £80 million and is on course to keep on growing. Read our latest Q&A with Ben Francis, founder of Gym Shark here.

The UK high street is also looking to benefit from this trend. Topshop recently collaborated with Beyoncé on it’s Ivy Park collection, while Marks and Spencer, New Look and H&M have also released their own sportswear range to get in on the action.

This generational shift towards less formal fashion shows no sign of stopping. According to Mintel research around half of Britons have bought clothing for non-sports use, while a third of shoppers bought fashionable sportswear that can be worn when not exercising.

But what do you think of this flourishing trend? Is it just a passing fad, or is it here for the long run?