In yet more confirmation that comfy and stretchy clothes are not going anywhere post-pandemic, it seems like everyone is launching a new athleisure line or set of products.
From Lululemon (LULU) – Get Lululemon Athletica Inc Report‘s venture into footwear to new brands from retail giants like Kohl’s (KOHL) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) – Get Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. Report.
Research from the NPD Group found that the number of athleisure lines rose from 1,600 in 2014 to 2,400 in 2021.
Where’s The New Athleisure Line This Time?
The latest big-box retailer to launch a new line of athletic clothing is Walmart (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report.
Love & Sports, an activewear and swimwear collaboration between Michelle Smith and Stacey Griffith, will feature 121 items that include retro running and bike shorts, logo sweatshirts, nylon jackets, and one- and two-piece swimsuits.
Each item will be cost between $12 and $42 and be available at Walmart.com or 1,500 Walmart stores across the country. Sizes will range between XS and XXXL for activewear and XS and XXL for swimwear.
The fashion designer behind the popular Milly brand, Smith designed the dress that First Lady Michelle Obama wore for the official portrait made of her for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Together with her partner and celebrity SoulCycle instructor Stacey Griffith, Smith was tapped to design a line that would be at once be both comfortable and bold and bright for summer. The nothing-over-$42 price tag also keeps the line with the low prices that Walmart customers expect.
“Michelle and Stacey collaborated on the development process from start to finish, thoughtfully creating every design around the performance level of an athlete and the emerging fashion trends and colorways in fitness, streetwear and swim,” Walmart said in a blog post announcing the new collection .
People Are Buying A Lot Of Athletic-Style Clothes
As the Covid-19 outbreak hit the United States in spring 2020, sales of business casual clothing fell while athleisure became a hot commodity.
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Activewear sales rose from $52.3 billion to $70.8 billion between 2019 and 2021, according to NPD Group’s stats.
While early analysis anticipated a correction toward more business casual clothing sales by the time people returned to offices, the decline never occurred. While brands that create slacks and party dresses did see a rise in sales, the most popular clothing category is projected to remain activewear for many years going forward.
Athleisure, which is defined as sporty-style clothes that can also be worn out or to a casual office, is also seeing strong demand as the distinctions between “staying in” and “going out” clothes become more and more blurred.
“Before you had your sweatshirt and your sweatpants and you had your button-down shirt and your pencil skirt that you were wearing to the office,” Krista Corrigan, an analyst at retail market intelligence firm Edited, told TheStreet last May.
“Those wardrobes were once completely separate in the minds of the consumer and now you’re going to see them blurred more and more.”
Athletic, Athleisure Or Business Casual?
Between 2019 and 2022, visits to Lululemon rose 17.2% in January, 27% in February and 5.8% in March.
Athleta, the athletic clothing subsidiary of the Gap GAP , saw respective increases of 35.5%, 39.2% and 33.2% in the same months.
The same Placer.ai report found that 23.2% of those who shop at Athleta and 24.1% of those who shop at Lululemon also bought items at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the first quarter of 2022.
Seeing the success in brands that specialize in this type of clothing, many retailers have also jumped in with their own line.
“People are getting back out now after the pandemic, and we think they’re looking for the comfort of activewear that can be worn at street level,” Walmart says of Love & Sports.