Athleisure trend accelerates during lockdown

True Fit

More consumers than ever are turning to athleisure wear for comfort and style while at home. That’s according to new findings by True Fit that show women’s athleisure orders have risen 84 per cent since the start of the pandemic (pre numerous national lockdowns).

The insights come from True Fit’s Fashion Genome for footwear and apparel, powered by data from 17,000 retail brands and 180 million True Fit Members.

This boost in sales was reported across athleisure categories, with men’s athleisure clothing sales also up 20 per cent on 2019’s figures in terms of order volumes. The biggest standout was in women’s athleisure bottoms (including leggings, joggers and yoga pants). That saw five times the volume of orders placed in December 2020 than eight months previously, during April and the first national lockdown.

Unsurprisingly, a lack of social occasions, no parties and family gatherings, and less in-office working is thought to be behind the rise. By comparison, orders of formal wear plummeted compared to last year.

As an example, take True Fit’s analysis of how the dress category performed.  It found that order volumes were 60 per cent down on 2019 levels during April’s lockdown. Only recovering to -5 per cent of volumes in July, when some UK restrictions were eased. Come the next lockdown and by December, order volumes of dresses had fallen again to -35 per cent.

Retailers across the board have recognised and acted on this shifting demand.  In January this year, Marks & Spencer announced it would be expanding its Goodmove activewear range to men and children, following a 200 per cent surge in online sales between March and September 2020.

British activewear brand Sweaty Betty also benefited from strong demand during lockdown, enjoying a 60 per cent rise in revenues in 2020.

Sarah Curran Usher MBE, GM EMEA at True Fit, said: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen emerging consumer behaviours and demand changes that have delivered all sorts of category curveballs – and not just in fashion.  Who knew in Spring 2020 jigsaws would have become sell-out items and, even those of us who’d never dream of glamping pre-pandemic, would all start clamouring for camping equipment at unprecedented demand levels.  And so, in fashion, we have seen the trend for athleisure – which was already growing in popularity – become accelerated and sustained as home comforts and at home workouts became the order of the day.”

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