As the pandemic accelerates hybrid lifestyles, fashion brands will launch new gym lines

man in white tank top and gray pants sitting on blue yoga mat

As lockdowns blur the lines between home, work and leisure, Telfar and Pangaia unveil new collections.

From Rishi Sunak’s 6am Peloton workout to the new aerobics comedy Physical starring Rose Byrne, our love of all things gym-related shows no signs of abating. Two of the most innovative fashion brands now have clothes you can squat and jump in.

Telfar, the black-owned fashion label loved by Oprah Winfrey, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and others, is launching a sportswear line in September. Pangaia is a label that has been at the forefront in sustainable fashion and counts Pharrell Williams as a fan. It recently announced a 31-piece line of gym wear.

Matt Powell, senior sports advisor at the NPD Group, said that sales for athleisure has outperformed fashion sales so far this year. It was a popular trend even before the pandemic. According to Chantal Fernandez from the Business of Fashion, “its rapid growth had slowed in recent years.” In 2020, activewear sales accounted for 40% of all online sales.

Aoife Byrne, Edited’s retail analyst, stated that “this isn’t an instant trend. It’s a lifestyle change.” The pandemic led to a more hybrid way of living. The boundaries between work, home and pursuits like exercise were dissolved and they all merged together. This shift is being expressed by people in their clothes.

man in white tank top and gray pants sitting on blue yoga mat

Gym gear has become everyday wear, as people wear items such as leggings as they would have worn jeans (searches for them grew by 144%, according to Lyst). Prof Deirdre Clémente, fashion historian, said that the pandemic changed physical fitness’s status from one in the public to one in private. “This retreat has removed any auspices regarding formality in workout clothes: nobody is going to see them.”

The evidence also suggests that home gym patrons are looking for a fresh look. Lululemon announced an 88% sales increase in the first quarter of this year. Under Armour reported a 35% increase in sales year-over-year. Puma and Gap’s Athleta were the top-selling gym brands. Brooks, On, and Hoka are all leading runners in their respective markets. Clemente stated that the relationship between exercise, and what we wear, has been reborn amid cultural and social change.

According to Allied Market Research, the activewear market will reach PS393bn in 2024. Clemente stated that the pandemic brought to light cultural ideas about athletic wear and sportswear that have been in the making for nearly two decades. Clemente said that although there was an ambiguity in the definition of “athleteisure” pre-pandemic, those lines between “that’s casual but OK, I guess” and “that’s casual, whatever” are almost gone.

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