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Net-a-Porter Looks to Play in Activewear Market

As the activewear trend continues to pervade the apparel market, luxury retailers are getting in on the action, the latest of which is fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter.

The luxe retailer plans to unveil a new activewear department on its website later this year that will feature a group of brands with clothing for yoga, spin classes, running or those just after the athleisure look, WWD reported.

Net-a-Porter’s new department will be part of the main site rather than a standalone entity. The retailer’s current activewear offerings include some hoodies, track pants and sports bras from brands like Adidas by Stella McCartney, T by Alexander Wang, The Elder Statesman, but the collection is limited in comparison to the designer collection cocktail dresses accessories and shoes that Net-a-Porter is known for.

Activewear has become increasingly relevant in today’s apparel market as consumers seek to blend active and casual wear to transition from workout to workday without the need for multiple outfit changes, and the sector is positioned for strong growth.

Last month, designer retailer Tory Burch announced its intention to join the athletic apparel market with a new line of apparel and accessories for yoga, running, gold and tennis set to debut in spring 2015. The idea is that the clothing can be worn both in and out of the gym.

Lululemon made a similar move to target those who wish to wear workout clothing throughout the day with its &Go line launched last month. An ad on the Lululemon website for the collection said, “You’re out the door at daybreak and moving until midnight. You don’t have time for a wardrobe that keeps forcing you to change.” One product description read, “This do-it-all dress is bike-ride, yoga-date and dance-party compatible. We added two deep zipper pockets so you can leave your purse at home.”

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In 2013, the activewear market saw 9 percent growth compared to the previous year and the total apparel market was up just 2 percent over the same period, according to The NPD Group.

According to a recently issued report by the Cowen Group titled, “Activewear Survey—Dominant Players Gain Ground in Shopper Preference,” athletic apparel is a “rapidly growing, high margin, sub segment” that many retailers are trying to tap into.

But Nike and Under Armour are currently leading the charge. In the U.S., Nike’s share as first choice for activewear increased to 42 percent in January 2014 compared to 38 percent the previous year. Under Armour’s share was up to 13 percent from 11 percent.

Adidas saw a dip in market share, but the retailer is working to regain growth through new collaborations like with London-based designer Mary Katrantzou who will create a collection of women’s apparel and footwear for fall, and with music producer Pharell who will contribute to a collection for Adidas Orginals.

Activewear currently makes up 16 percent of the total apparel market, but NPD says that will likely change as consumers continue to shift to casual.