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Packing a punch: athleisure to be almost-universal by 2020 says new report

If you thought demand for athleisure/sportswear was peaking, think again.

A continued rise in sports and fitness trends is powering sales across London’s key West End region, as fashion retailers are adding athleisure ranges to their collections to reflect consumer interest in high-profile sports events and a more casual approach to day dressing.

That’s according to the New West End Company, which represents retailers across the Bond St, Oxford St and Regent St shopping region.

Its survey reveals that the number of sports brands occupying those shopping streets increased 100% between 2016 and 2017 and an ever-growing number of fashion retailers are adding sportswear to their ranges.

This trend is set to continue and analysts predict 90% of all fashion brands across the shopping destination will incorporate sportswear ranges by 2020.

With the sports clothing, footwear and accessories market worth a total of £2.5bn in the UK, up 8% in 2017, retailers are jumping on the sports and athleisure trends to ensure they capture not only the runners taking part in events such as this Sunday’s London Marathon, but also the viewers of sporting events who are inspired to buy the sportswear they see athletes wearing.

Brand collaborations and new departments within stores have kept consumer interest high, the report said.

Key examples from the last year include Selfridges’ new trainer (sneaker) department in its Oxford Street store, Victoria Beckham’s collaboration with Reebok and Japanese brand Y-3’s successful range with adidas. High street favourites such as Primark, New Look and H&M “are all increasing their sportswear departments with favourable results,” the report said.

But experience are also key within West End stores. Oxford Street’s reputation for showcasing ‘world-firsts’ has seen a boxing gym in Selfridges; high intensity ‘HIIT’ exercise classes taking place on the rooftop of John Lewis; and on Regent Street, yoga-inspired brand Lululemon hosts free weekly running and yoga classes with The North Face offers a series of hiking-inspired classes.

Kyle Monk, head of Insights at New West End Company said: “As one of the world’s top shopping and leisure destinations, brands use their prime location in the West End to showcase new lines and offer unique experiences for customers.

“Over the past few years, we have seen a number of department stores and fashion retailers introduce new sportswear ranges alongside their core fashion collections and create sports-related experiences in store for visitors to take part in. As the line between athletic and leisurewear becomes hazier, we expect retailers will dedicate an increasing amount of floorspace to some form of athletic offering. The opportunity for brands to innovate in this sector is huge.”

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