The Indian sportswear market grew 22 per cent, outpacing the segment’s global increase of 7 per cent.
Five years ago, who would’ve thought that gym wear or sportswear will be a fashion fad? It was unthinkable to most people. Now, the sportswear or now termed as “athleisure” (athletic casual wear) has taken over the mainstream apparel sector and has been disrupting the apparel industry since the past few years.
According to industry reports, currently, athleisure is used by 28% of the population in the US alone. The numbers are staggering, especially when compared to a ‘fading’ apparel category like denim. However, this trend is clearly not just a western world phenomenon; it is widely experienced in India as well. The lines between traditional sportswear and fashion apparel are increasingly getting blurred, giving a significant boost to the athleisure industry in India.
The overall athleisure category is growing at a rate of 20% to 25% annually. Industry estimates that athleisure is growing faster than the rest of the apparel categories in India, making the country a hot-spot for international brands to foray here. In fact, the Indian sportswear market grew 22%, outpacing the segment’s global increase of 7%.
Millennials Driving the Growth
Millennials are one of the most targeted demographic in today’s time. Interestingly, millennials are the ones dominating the growth of athleisure. Their increased health consciousness and an increase in taking up fitness activities such as aerobics, swimming, running, and yoga, has increased the demand for athleisure. For many of the millennials, jeans have dropped to a distant second for weekend wear. Athleisure bridges the gap between what was there in the marketplace with fitness apparel and accessories that are as fashionable as they are functional.
Another big push to this industry is celebrity influence. Celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Beyonce, Rihanna, etc have transformed the perception of active wears and made it a fashion statement. Celebrity and designer athleisure lines are influencing consumers to subscribe to this ‘new’ active yet stylish lifestyle.
In fact, celebrities are not only adorning the athleisure but have also tapped on this magnum opus trend by launching their own athleisure brands. For instance, top Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan launched his fitness wear line, namely HRX. Mojostar partnered with Tiger Shroff and Jacqueline Fernandez to launch their brands, Prowl and Just F, respectively. Apart from them, many celebs have launched their athleisure lines, including megastars such as ShahidKapoor, Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma etc.
Increase in Number of International Franchises
The favourable outlook of Indian athleisure market has been propelling many international brands to venture into the country. The brands are either opting for franchising route or e-commerce. There are various reasons which make the Indian market favourable. Some of them are listed below:
-Large unsaturated markets;
-The positive and high growth of GDP;
-The growing middle class and the young population;
-Increased the government and private sector focus on this sector; and
Along with existing major players in the industry such as Monte Carlo, Nautica, H&M, many new athleisure brands are eyeing India for profitability. Last year, one of the leading sportswear brands in the world, Under Armour, marked its foray into India with the launch of its first brick and mortar store in Delhi.
Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO, Under Armour, said, “India is the last piece of the puzzle in this part of the world for us, and an incredibly important market. As a nation with a long, rich history in sports and an accelerating focus on health and wellness, we look forward to building a strong foundation for our brand in India and driving our ability to achieve even greater long-term, international growth.” According to the brand’s expansion plan, they are leveraging on the local knowledge of the franchise partners and tapping into the expertise of Indian entrepreneurs to scale up quickly.
Recently, Danish sports lifestyle brand, Hummel International, has entered the Indian market with five franchise stores. Hummel, which was already present in Indian e-commerce websites like Myntra, Amazon and witnessing positive growth, decided to open brick and mortar stores. In addition, Polish sportswear brand 4F is readying its maiden foray into India in June this year.
Clearly, there is a huge potential for growth of Athleisure in India and is expected to rise at a CAGR of 13.9% in the global "activewear" market. The segment has huge potential and offers strong growth opportunities both domestically and internationally. Industry experts believe that the trend is here to stay.