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Streetwear, Comfort and Swim Influence Summer Activewear Trends

Much of fashion has been under streetwear’s spell, and its having its impact on activewear too.

The latest data from retail analysis firm Edited reveals seven trends influencing the global activewear market this summer. While comfort and performance remain key factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions, new fashion styles are also invigorating the shop floor.

Speed factor

Consumers are feeling the need for speed, and according to Edited, there are nearly four times as many products in stores now that claim to help the wearer “run faster” compared to what was available this time last year.

With advancements in energy return, lightweight materials and minimal sole constructions, speed is a natural story for footwear brands to share. But the interest around performance-enhancing products doesn’t start and stop with feet. Edited said apparel brands are describing other items like leggings and sports bras in ways that promote speed. Case in point: Lululemon’s online description for its Fast & Free collection urges women to “feel fast and free” in the sweat-wicking run tights.

There has been a 160 percent increase in the appearance of the word “speed” in activewear product descriptions in the last two years, Edited said, and a 260 percent increase for “energy return” products.

Short cycle

Fashion’s adoption of the non-active bike short as an ‘it’ item is having a positive effect on its performance-driven counterpart.

Edited said the 2,000 percent increase in cycling shorts in the non-active category has led to a 363 percent boost in bike shorts in the activewear category.

While its crossover appeal has “strengthened” the average price point of bike shorts to about $46.61, Edited said its accessibility may lead to a short lifespan.

Name game

Cycling shorts are not the only streetwear trend infiltrating activewear either. Edited pointed out that brands are taking design cues from the repeated logo prints that Off-White and Ivy Park made famous.

“Nike’s repeat branded bands on a sports bra and flash of yellow on the VaporMax FlyKnit typify this new direction that has so much unexplored potential,” Edited said.

Sport for swim

Swimwear for actual swimming? Imagine that.

The boom in fitness, travel and body positivity has helped lift swimwear up 75 percent this year. In particular, Edited said active bikinis increase 128 percent and one-piece swimsuits increased 44 percent. Key styles include bikinis with high cut necklines and sport bra-like tops.

Parents are also growing wise about skin health, and Edited said education about UV damage is leading to an increase in SPF-blocking rash guard sets for children.

Inclusive sizing

Following the lead of women’s wear and denim, activewear is embracing inclusive sizing.

Edited found that in the last three months there has been 92 percent more activewear described as “plus size” than two years ago. The majority of items are bottoms, but data shows sports bras have the best sell-through.

Asos and Nike are setting the example for both the mass and sport market. However, Edited said there’s still a lot for brands to gain, particular in the men’s market, which is lagging behind women’s.

Creature comforts

Seamless constructions are fulfilling the demand for fuss-free, comfortable activewear.

Edited said seamless activewear has grown 130 percent in the last two years, with underwear and socks seeing the most interest.

Meanwhile, advancements in knit technology are elevating the seam-free leggings business.

“As customers discern their active leisure wear from their performance wear they are building greater understanding of the technical needs, valuing enhancing properties and a stream-lined look,” Edited said.

Dress for success

Having secured a wardrobe of leggings and workout tops, women are seeking out new silhouettes to update their active wear looks.

Enter dresses. Edited said the amount of active dresses in the market have increased 189 percent in the last three months compared to two years ago.

It’s a trend that performance giants like Adidas, Nike and Puma have tapped into with gusto. Edited said the brands have the highest number of new products this year. And “influential active brand” Outdoor Voices keyed into the trend with its first skort and dress.

With the current average price for an active dress being $105.76, Edited expects to see more of this trend as its discovered by the mass market.

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