It comes as no surprise that the athleisure industry flourished during the pandemic. With people spending a lot of time at home and business meetings taking place on Zoom (no business pants required), there was a major increase in consumers looking for comfortable, yet chic, apparel. Quickly, leggings, matching yoga sets and even sweatpants became must-have items in our professional wardrobes.
Fashion trends are constantly changing, but no one expected athleisure to make such a splash and remain a common practice in the fashion industry today. Suddenly, leggings, crop tops, and even sports bras with trainers, escaped the four-walls of lockdown and made it to the streets, and of course, social platforms. Some of YouTube’s most fashionable creators posted athleisure-related videos, including Athleisure Outfits + Try On, Athleisure Basics Haul!, DIY Athleisure Outfits from Walmart, and How to Style Athleisure for Winter. As can be seen by the graph below (Mentions), YouTube videos related to ‘athleisure’ rose dramatically in 2020 and continues to flourish today. The graph on the right (Brands) proves that companies from a variety of industries quickly jumped on the trend, including Nike, Adidas, Fabletics, Urban Outfitters, Airbnb, Fortnite, ThredUp and Uber eats.
It’s also interesting to see that this fashion trend has made its way into a variety of YouTube categories.
Let’s take a closer look at one fashion retailer who nailed this trend. Lululemon, an athletic apparel retailer that specializes in yoga pants and yoga wear, managed to thrive during the year of the pandemic. According to Business Insider, their online sales rose a staggering 157% in its second quarter. Lululemon CEO, Calvin McDonald, stated that “the outbreak has ultimately served to accelerate existing shifts in consumer behavior and evolving fitness trends that the company had long been focused on”.
However, Lululemon isn’t the only clothing brand that jumped on the athleisure trend. The demand by consumers for comfort, style, and performance in clothing and footwear caused many fashion retailers to include athleisure or loungewear into their core inventory. Lets take a look at how other clothing brands that jumped on the athleisure trend did in 2020-2021.
This active-lifestyle brand sells sportswear, or athleisure, for both men and women. It boasts itself for offering a personalized shopping experience based on the members’ fashion preferences, lifestyle and sizing. Fabletics runs an extensive influencer marketing program for creators from all tiers - micro-creators to celebrities.
Since 2018, Fabletics has been featured on YouTube 576 times by 188 thought leaders. This accumulated to over 69.5 million views! However, despite being well-known as an athleisure brand, the graph shows that there was a dramatic decrease in ‘Fabletics’ mentions throughout 2020.
In April 2020, the fitness apparel “found that over 50% of their target audience planned to spend less on fitness clothing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic”. However, after a thorough market analysis, they found that over 60% of people are wanting to spend more money on athleisure clothing. Gymshark decided to pivot the way they, and their thought leaders, framed the products - instead of focusing on the functional aspects of gymwear, they highlighted the emotional benefits.
Since January 2020, over 50 videos relating to ‘Gymshark athleisure’ have been uploaded to YouTube. From Sunday Reset: Cleaning, Painting my Nails, Gym to Go-To Workout & Leisurewear Outfits, Gymshark brand leaders continue to prove that the fitness apparel also knows how to jump onto the athleisure trend. As can be seen from the graph below, Gymshark thrived during the last year, peaking during the lockdown/quarantine months.
When you think about activewear or athleisure, Fashion Nova is probably not the first fashion brand to come to mind. However, during a time when both women and men were spending much much less money on clothing (especially fancy, going-out outfits), Fashion Nova thrived. Their marketing tactic? Focusing on micro-creators. In early-2020, there were 209 mentions of Fashion Nova on YouTube by 120 thought leaders. By the end of 2020-early 2021, there were over 185 content creators that uploaded 285 videos relating to the fashion brand.
When it comes to content specific to lounge/athleisure, there were over 300 videos uploaded to YouTube between January 2020 to June 2021, with a significant increase in November 2020.
In August 2020, Mandy Rose, who has 278K subscribers on YouTube, posted to YouTube a video called "Fashion Nova Active Wear Try On Haul", where she reviews both active wear and loungewear. During the video, she notes that "she lives in both of those, especially during these times when we are in quarantine and lockdown...it's fun to get dressed up but you'll usually find me in active wear or lounge wear".
As at-home fitness boomed and chic comfort became professional attire, Alo Yoga expanded its business into more areas of fitness, focusing on wellness apparel (cue athleisure wear). According to Luxe Digital, “Alo Yoga offers elevated athleisure clothing that features rips, cutouts, lacing and mesh detailing...Alo Yoga transitions easily from practice to the coffee shop.” As can be seen in the graph below, there was a dramatic increase in Alo Yoga mentions on YouTube in late 2020.
When you take a closer look at the type of content Alo Yoga is mentioned in, it ranges between How to Sport Activewear Anytime Anywhere to daily vlogs that feature athleisure-based Alo Yoga outfits.
Although fashion trends are notorious for coming and going, it looks like athleisure is here to stay. According to Global Data retail expert, Honor Strachan, “athleisure is not a fad or short-term trend. As we are becoming far more conscious of health and well-being, it is one of those product areas that will continue to become part of the consumers’ wardrobe”. That being said, marketers and creators that have not yet jumped into athleisure, this is your wake up call.