Wellness has officially made the transition from a trend to a lifestyle, and as a result, the fitness apparel market continues to outperform growth expectations. According to Global Industry Analytics, Inc., worldwide sales of activewear will top $231 billion by 2024.

There’s no question that performance apparel is taking over the fashion industry. In August, corporate apparel giant VF Corporation made headlines with the announcement that it is spinning off its sluggish jeanswear businesses—iconic brands Wrangler and Lee— to focus on its athleisure and performance brands.

As part of its growth predictions for the segment, retail technology company EDITED stresses the distinction between fitness apparel and loungewear. Although leggings have become as commonplace in the grocery store as they are in the gym, apparel that is designed specifically for movement—not just relaxation—is where demand is projected to skyrocket.

Performance fabrics such as those offering moisture wicking, odor prevention, UV protection and compression benefits are on the rise. Interest in post-workout fabrics that speed recovery by increasing blood flow and oxygen levels in the body is also growing; for example, luxury sleepwear startup Lunya has successfully launched a line of performance sleepwear. 

Electronic textiles, or smart fabrics, are making their way into the fitness market, too. Fashion technology company Wearable X has introduced yoga pants that give aspiring yogis ongoing feedback to improve performance via vibrations at the ankles, hips and knees.

“Another growing part of the fitness market is eco-conscious clothing—recycled, organic and responsibly made fabrics,” says Marcus Davis, product development manager for Hanes/Champion (PPAI 191138). “I think we tend to think more about the environment even more when we are doing something else positive.”

Since fitness apparel uses more synthetic fabric than any other apparel category, according to an EDITED article, the opportunities for growth in the sustainability segment are wide open. Look for emerging options that are more earth-friendly, such as recycled and biodegradable synthetics.

Fashion trends in fitness are ever-changing, following the overall retail expectation of fast fashion. A few current hot spots include matched sets, sports bras with interesting details and/or high necks, ruffles and cropped tops and hoodies in the women’s market. Trends in unisex styles include color-blocking, sheer panels, lightweight layers, plus sizes and pieces that help the wearer transition from the gym to the street.

“Comfort and versatility are what customers are looking for in today’s apparel,” says Jeanene Edward, vice president of activewear marketing and merchandising for Fruit of the Loom/JERZEES (PPAI 112791). “Customers also want a product that transfers well throughout the day. With our busy lives, performance apparel is a terrific choice because it’s able to transfer seamlessly across multiple usage occasions.”


Top 10 Fitness Trends In 2018
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently published its Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends For 2018. The annual survey, which included responses from over 4,000 international fitness professionals, ranked the hottest fitness trends of 2018.

1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Short bursts of high-intensity cardio exercise are punctuated with low-intensity moves.

2. Group fitness classes
Instructors lead groups of five or more in choreographed exercises ranging from cycling
to Zumba.

3. Wearable technology
Choose from a huge selection of gadgets that will track your every move, calorie burn and heart rate.

4. Bodyweight training
No gym equipment needed—think push-ups and lunges.

5. Strength training
An important complement to cardio, weight training is beneficial to your heart and bones, and it reduces the chance of injury.

6. Educated and certified fitness professionals
Increased education and regulation provides assurance that fitness experts are legit.

7. Yoga
Pick your poison: hatha, vinyasa flow, yin, restorative, and the list goes on.

8. Personal training
For a more individualized workout, train one-on-one with an in-person or online coach.

9. Programs tailored for older adults
Aging Baby Boomers are more interested in hiking than knitting.

10. Functional fitness
Strength training that “enhances someone’s ability to perform the activities of daily living,” according to the ACSM.



Cream Of The Crop
Studio Three, a boutique Chicago gym offering cycling, yoga and boot camp classes, was looking for fashion-forward merchandise for its members and uniforms for instructors.

Axis Promotions partnered with supplier Bella + Canvas to offer customized tank tops in several styles and colors. Lauren Gula, senior account manager with Axis Promotions, notes that crop tops are trending and have been particularly popular with the fitness market.

Studio Three is currently stocking up on merch for a second location opening in the city.
Source: Axis Promotions




Run With It
A youth soccer association was looking for a fundraising item to be sold at its annual soccer tournament. The association worked with Beacon Promotions to create tube socks decorated with fun and colorful artwork, and sold them at the tournament. The socks were a fun souvenir for participants, and they provided a great source of revenue. The association plans to offer socks as an annual item at the tournament.
Source: Beacon Promotions, Inc.







For specific product ideas, please refer to the flipbook.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.