According to The NPD Group, Athleisure Is Here To Stay—For Now

A recent report by The NPD Group shows that 24 percent of total apparel sales are made in the athleisure segment.

According to the global-information company’s “Future of Apparel” study, activewear—including yoga pants, sweatpants and hoodies—has evolved into the athleisure trend, resulting in the acceptance of athletic apparel that is appropriate to be worn outside the traditional gym setting.

“I’m often asked if the athleisure trend is going to fade away, and the answer is no,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser—retail at The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y. “When you have comfort and function combined with fashion, it’s difficult to go back to anything else on a regular basis.”

This formula, which blends comfort with function, has become more popular as society’s outlook toward formal and casual dressing has shifted. Many offices now observe a casual dress code, and, with busy daily schedules, consumers are searching for activewear pieces that can transition easily from strength training and stretch classes to social settings.

“The athleisure movement and its influence on fashion continues to be a primary driver of growth for the apparel industry,” Cohen explained.

The NPD Group found that for the 12-month period ending in June, total sweatshirt sales increased by double-digit figures and active bottoms grew 5 percent. The report forecasts growth through 2019 in total dollars for sweat and active bottoms as various activewear categories gain strength. While the athleisure segment continues to grow, Cohen said other areas of the apparel industry—including dress shirts, formal trousers and tailored clothing—are seeing a decline, which he attributes to the continued popularity of activewear.

“Other apparel categories are declining, which tells us that consumers are getting just what they need and want in athleisure wear,” he noted.

Another driver in the athleisure category is its accessibility and the large demographic it serves. The mainstream reach of athleisure is due, in part, to its ability to attract consumers of different ages and backgrounds.

With the continued trend toward streetwear, athletic apparel is going to remain an important component in the wardrobes of trendsetters, which have been identified by The NPD Group as “social, fashion and image-conscious.”

“There is no doubt that the category will continue to evolve, but it’s definitely here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Cohen said.