Pretty soon, there will be no distinguishing between fitness apparel and fashion.
At Active Collective’s first New York activewear trade show in New York City Jan. 26 and 27, nearly 60 exhibitors, from Alo Yoga to Z Supply, showcased the latest in athletic apparel for Fall ’17, and gave weight to the notion that activewear is everywhere.
With its original Los Angeles iteration, Active Collective has already established itself as the leading activewear show, but as the trend ramps up and consumers look for more transitional clothing, Devon Damelio, sales manager for Active Collective, said now was the time to launch an East Coast edition.
“Brands were asking for somewhere they could see all activewear buyers in one show and the buyers were asking the same about the brands,” Damelio said.
When asked whether the activewear market has reached oversaturation with brands grabbing for their share of the market left and right, or whether the trend has peaked, Damelio said she doesn’t think so at all.
“I think it is still growing pretty rapidly,” she said. “We’re seeing more contemporary lines turning more active and more pieces being meant to wear from the gym to lunch or from the gym to dinner.”
Brands like women’s wear line Strut-This, have seen considerable growth since its 2011 launch, according to Damelio, and newer lines like Ultracor and P.E Nation have also seen early successes.
As the line between what’s workout wear and what’s for the everyday continues to blur, more brands are offering leisure wear that accommodates both. Most of what brands had on offer look a lot like everyday clothing but act more like activewear.
Indigo was a big hit among brands at the show, with many offering a selection of denim-like looks for leisure and the gym. And for womenswear-focused brand Lucy, its Indigo line has been a hit with buyers and consumers.
“It’s all the performance of activewear, but it looks like denim,” Lucy sales rep Erin Howdyshell said.
Using hyperreal patent-pending printed fabric, Lucy Indigo bottoms look strikingly like denim but have the same elements of contouring and moisture wicking that activewear would. To get fading and whiskering in the denim look just right for every wearer, Lucy prints each piece by size so the contouring hits in the right places every time. So far, the flare has been the most popular silhouette as consumers replace their standard jeans with the look for a new take on lifestyle clothing.
Blanc Noir, which designs its product from a fashion perspective and then builds in the performance, had its own denim-like offering—a women’s engineered seamless legging and crop top set with a special wash to give it the denim effect and mesh and laser cutouts for styling.
Seamless looks, mesh, muted colors and laser cutouts were big across all brands for fall, and the sensational prints and bold colors of seasons passed were toned down across the board.
For Blanc Noir, women weren’t the only focus either.
“A lot of our retailers tell us there’s a big void in this space for men’s,” account executive Mara Dalessio said, adding that with business travel and active lifestyles, men are also looking for clothing that transitions from workout to workplace to air travel and anything else in between.
Blanc Noir will launch men’s activewear for Fall ’17 with styles including tech chinos with moisture wicking properties and a three-look jacket that can be worn as a vest, a jacket or a jacket lined with a vest as the inner layer can be zipped in or out.
So what’s around the bend for the activewear market? More subdued colors—blacks, neutrals, greys, blush and rose tones and taupes. “You’re going to see a lot of that,” Damelio said.
Head-to-toe prints will also be big and more brands will look to produce sets, with matching tops and leggings as demand for activewear “outfits” ramps up. In terms of silhouettes, legging waists will inch higher, crop tank styles will be very popular and jumpsuits could become a bigger trend.
For Active Collective, plans are already in place to do another New York show this year, likely over the summer and not far behind it’s LA edition, which is set for July 17-18.