Why is denim quaking in its boots? Simple answer, activewear is growing at 7-9 times the rate of apparel in general. Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, Inc., is a nationally known expert on consumer behavior and the retail industry. He has followed retail trends for more than thirty years at NPD and as the head of leading fashion and apparel manufacturers, as well as major retailers. Cohen states that activewear has the edge. “This is not a fashion trend, it’s a lifestyle trend. The difference here is that there’s functionality mixed with fashion, not just solely fashion.” That could be the reason Levi is quaking in its “Levi’s” instead of its boots. Sales of Levi Strauss jeans are flagging. If that news fails to tug at your heartstrings, you are probably one of the people that Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh thinks is at the root of this problem: women who’d rather slide into a comfy pair of yoga pants than cram their legs and butt into a constricting denim prison. Maybe that why a recent headline in the Business of Fashion said “There’s No Way But Up For Activewear”. In 2014, jeans fell in year over year sales by 6% to $16 billlion while activewear climbed 7% to around $35 billion. So the battle is in full swing with both sides taking aim, but who is going to win this war? So far, it looks like denim is in retreat.
There are lots of big and small brands in the activewear market. Most rely on bright colors and prints to distinguish their “fitness fashion”. The market is so large that big and small are at war as well, looking for the niche that sets it apart. At Turn It On Fitness, design elements from the fashion runway along with catwalk quality trims and zippers incorporated into high performance fitness apparel distinguish the brand. Is this a new trend in the new trend? Time will tell.
So the next time you slip on your jeans, ask yourself “Are these really comfortable?” Or vice versa, the next time you slip into some activewear, ask yourself “Would I be more comfortable in a pair of jeans?”