Much like denim before it, activewear is increasingly being integrated into daily attire.
So does activewear offer fashion brands the same kind of growth potential that designer denim did a decade ago? We think so. And does activewear look like it’s heading to become a ‘staple’ in men’s wardrobes? We think so too.
Gap, Tom Ford, H&M, Jeremy Scott and Uniqlo are on the long list of companies getting into the activewear space. But as we’ve seen, some of the dynamics driving the growth of the category resemble the forces that helped to build the lucrative premium denim category (jeans priced at $75 and over), now worth $1.2 billion in the US alone.
Once upon a time, it could have been considered rare for anyone to pay a premium for something as basic as a pair of jeans. Now, it is not uncommon to see fashion-savvy consumers fork out up to $200 for jeans. A trend that is now picking up pace in sportswear, despite the inevitable sweat and frequent washing gym clothes are subject to.
You know how we feel about gym gear if you’ve read some of our other posts….but let’s get this clear. The stuff you wear to the gym, is not the activewear we’re talking about. Sportsluxe and activewear are a twin trend that we can’t get confused with the lycras you wear to lift 100kgs. So don’t think you can wear that out to lunch. We’re talking about streetwear luxe wearing heavier threads, not your dryfit Nike product. (Although we think they’re cool).
The SportsLuxe activewear has tantalised the tastebuds of the world’s most adored menswear King himself, Tom Ford. Don’t be fooled though, they’re not cheap, You can pick up a pair of sweats for £225 (about $380), and so this suggests the category is graduating into a bona fide luxury commodity. The premiumisation of both jeans and sportswear indicates that there is an overarching allure to pieces which have a high frequency of wear and can be worn on numerous occasions. A winning mix of durability, functionality and fashionability will continue to command premium prices.
Chanel and Dior are already sending sneakers down couture runways. Emphasising functionality alongside fashion will be key. And MenStylePower must admit that Giuseppe Zanotti’s are commonly worn in this office.
The reason why Denim made such a big debut was due to a desperate cultural change in many countries that desired modernity and ease. And as we say ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’…Whether activewear — strongly associated with healthy and active lifestyles — has similar potential to carry symbolic meaning for millions of global citizens remains to be seen.