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Travel and ‘Wokeness’ Move Activewear in New Directions for Spring/Summer 2021

Travel, new business models and the growing awareness of ethical practices in the apparel industry are leading sport apparel into new directions. At Première Vision in New York Wednesday, Maria Teresa Dayan, Promostyl director of North America, shared how these factors are informing new color and product stories for Spring/Summer 2021.

Adventure seeker

From taking sojourns that trace one’s heritage, to sweating it out at fitness retreats in romote parts of the world, millennials are changing the way people travel. “Vacationing is not a time for relaxation anymore,” Dayan said. “It’s an active vacation.”

This bodes well for activewear brands that wish to tap into the demand for destination wear—a trend that Euromonitor estimates will help boost the global swimwear market from $20.8 billion to $22.7 billion by 2022. With a similar emphasis on fuction and fashion, active has a greater chance to capitalize on consumers’ need to look and feel good while on holiday.

While mindful activities like yoga and meditation continue to trend, Dayan urged desigeners to take a closer look at the apparel needs of travelers hitting the great outdoors. With doctors prescribing “outdoor therapy” to treat everything from depression to obesity, and brands like REI and The North Face incentivizing consumers to unplug and connect with nature, activewear will have to take on more rugged and durable features.

Out of the box

Taking a cue from the booming $532 billion U.S. costmetics industry, Dayan said activewear brands are turning to subscription services to drum up buzz for their entire product range.

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Under Armour is doing this through the ArmourBox, a subscription box service curated to individuals’ fitness goals and fashion preferences. Ellie offers consumers the option to shop pre-styled outfits (think sports bra, tank and legging) for $39.95 a month. Meanwhile, FabFitFun, which packages wellness, fitness, beauty and home products, is in growth mode. Dayan noted that the influencer favorite expanded to the U.K. earlier this year with $80 million in Series A funding.

The category also aims to recreate the type of excitement that streetwear has honed through limited-edition product drops. Dayan urged designers to consider limited-run products and hyped-up social media promotions. Or, she added, get into merch gear. The popularity of creating merchandise around a single event or day, she noted, is touching all types of brands from Lacoste to Ikea.

Conscious products

Consumers are paying closer attention to why, how and where products are made. And they’re unafraid of calling out a brand for cultural appropriation. Kim Kardashian’s line of shapewear, originally called Kimono by Kim Kardashian, was blasted by consumers on social media for appropriating (and trying to trademark) a word with deep significance in Japanese culture. The reality TV star/entrepreneur said the line will relaunch with a new moniker.

Meanwhile, last month the Mexican government accused Carolina Herrera of ripping off indigenous Mexican patterns in the Resort 2020 collection.

Brands, Dayan said, can avoid this faux pas by celebrating the influencing culture and artists. Canada Goose achieved this, she noted, when the outerwear company worked with Inuit designers to embroider its outerwear in their own style.

Color codes

Color remains key to consumer products, especially fashion.

For Spring/Summer 2021, Dayan said four color stories are coming into prominence: vibrant plant- and flower-based colors for golfing and cross fitness; silver chrome, peacock blue and light navy for gym and luxury sport stories; neon cantaloupe and chrome copper for boxing and versatile street looks; and an earthy palette of khaki, carrot and slate browns for climbing and outdoor.

Within these stories, she said green and magenta will be “the most inspiring.” She’s also urged brands in the luxury category to invest in silver, black and purple combinations.