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Athleisure set to power ahead in UK as Asos prepares for major sector launch

The wheels aren’t coming off the athleisure trend anytime soon and expect them to spin faster, faster, faster. That’s the view of analysts at GlobalData who said in a new UK-focused report that Asos’s decision to target the £2.5bn sports apparel market is a reflection of the category’s lasting (and growing) appeal.

GlobalData said that by reaching £2.5bn by the end of this year, the market will have grown as much as 8% over 12 months. By contrast, the researcher predicts that the overall UK clothing market will rise only 2.1% this year.

The company said that fashion retailers in particular have picked up on the trend for sportswear and will continue to invest as consumer demand for fashion-led sports apparel remains high.

It added that the trend is also supporting heritage brand revivals. “Even sports brands from the 1980s and 1990s such as Kappa and Ellesse are tapping into market opportunities, due to a resurgence in consumer demand following high profile attention via Instagram influencers,” GlobalData said.

This week there was also news of heritage brand Pony planning a big comeback and and Umbro expanding on its heritage credentials in the US.

But the Asos move is also key. Following the successful launch of third party sports brands earlier in the year, it will launch its own label sportswear range in November, putting it in direct competition with pureplay and omnichannel peers including H&M, Boohoo, Primark, New Look, Ted Baker, Topshop (pictured left), Whistles and Superdry.

But even though the market is increasingly crowded, the researcher expects the Asos launch to drive further overall market growth with higher activewear spend per head. It also expects the e-tailer to gain a strong foothold in the market given its broad appeal, fashion credentials and loyal shopper following.

Fiona Paton, retail analyst for GlobalData, said: “Sales growth in athleisure is set to peak in 2017 but it will remain a very popular category over the next five years, outperforming total clothing. The health & wellbeing trend, influence of high profile fitness bloggers and continued investment from the [UK] government in initiatives such as improving cycle routes will increase consumer participation in sport and exercise – providing retailers with a larger, more varied activewear customer base.”

The report said that gym fitness, swimming and running are the preferred activities among women and girls and all have seen an increase in participation levels over the last year according to GlobalData’s survey of 10,000 UK consumers.

The wellness trend has contributed to this shift, with health & fitness bloggers such as Ella Woodward, Joe Wicks and Shaun T gaining a substantial following and subsequently raising awareness of healthy living and the benefits of regular exercise, which all supports the athleisure market.

Paton added: “As fashion retailers such as New Look, Primark and Asos invest in affordable, trend-led own brand sportswear ranges, female shoppers have access to more choice, will spend more on impulse and will purchase athleisure pieces in replacement of core casualwear items.”

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