Until few years back, classifying ‘sportswear’ as ‘fashionable’ was an unfathomable concept. Today, however, there is a drastic shift in consumer behaviour; therefore athleisure or athletic casual wear is becoming mainstream fashion. In fact, it has started dictating market trends in an unprecedented manner, as the result, unconventional categories such as gym attire (yoga pants, leggings,sweatpants) have started taking over the mainstream apparel sector.
If we look at numbers, data and analytics company GlobalData had forecasted 9% percent growth in the global athleisure market in the year 2019. The company also projected that the category will continue to outperform total clothing and footwear market owing to consumers’ desire to have multifunctional wardrobe. As per Deloitte India data, India’s athleisure market is growing at 18-20% currently and is expected to touch ₹54,000 crore, or roughly $8 billion, by 2020.
Apart from mainstream brand, so far the growth in this segment was largely driven by Indian celebrities; SKULT (By Shahid Kapoor, One 8( By Virat Kohli), True Blue( Sachin Tendulkar), HRX( By Rithik Roshan) amongst others are few examples of celebrities led athleisure fashion.
Although, today this space has been started penetrated by many start-up brands, causing escalated growth of the segment. Let’s caste light upon few such start-ups..
Started by female entreprenure Manisha Gupta, Mazeix is the latest inclusion in this space. As per Manisha People started embracing sportswear in the late 90s when Bollywood brought a fashion revolution as Shah Rukh Khan rocked his tight hugging polo tees and Karisma Kapoor sizzled the screen in her trendy sports bra and leggings in Dil To Paagal Hai. But soon enough, the style statement faded. Since people started realizing that what’s meant for the gym must be worn at the gym itself, the fashion trend decelerated.
Highlighting the growth of this segment, she said “The Athleisure wear segment has evolved greatly, as people have cultivated a better understanding of the importance of marrying fashion with fitness. In 2019, the term ‘athleisure’ connotes a modern, refined and relaxed approach towards fashion that screams comfort and substance. The onset of international brands such as H&M, Zara, Superdry, Puma, Forever 21 in the Indian market have created a space where consumers can now get the choicest apparel at the most feasible range.”
Aarti Virwani is the creative director of Tuna London, started the brand with her husband Ajit Virwani back in 2016. Coming from a family that works in the fashion apparel industry, she was naturally inclined towards fashion and studied fashion from SNDT University.
Sharing her journey Virwani she informs, “I and my husband are great fitness enthusiast. Being passionate about fitness, we had suffered a very unpleasing experience in our beginning years when we used to look at available sportswear fashion in the market. We observe the serious dearth of fashionable products catering fitness and that inspires us to launch Tuna London.”
Highlighting the initial challenges, she said,” Owing to high penetration of mainstream brands in this space, we were slightly apprehensive about our success. Distribution was yet another challenge for us because we did not have the bandwidth to start our distribution channel. Therefore, we resorted to social media which enables us to connect with our audience directly.”
With initial price point of INR500 Tuna London made its products from cotton lycra fabric due to which it is generating a lot of demand from international markets as well. The brand is completely designed and manufactured in India.
Started by Aneesha Labroo, the brand started in 2016 when she came back India after earning a fashion marketing degree from the University of Pennsylvania. During her international stay, she learnt about the surge in fitness and health-related trends and behaviors causing spurt in the number of pop-up stores catering active wear.
After conducting a full marketing study on the activewear market and available brands, she identified a gap - stylish and high quality products at an affordable price point. Thus, she observed a huge opportunity a good, affordable, Indian activewear clothing brand. And, this how kica was born.
Started by Malika Baruah and Dave Banerjee, the brand caters modern age yoginis, Proyog. Started in 2015, Proyog is committed to designing and manufacturing super-specialized yoga wear. The brand USP is sustainable active wear solutions. Proyog products are made using HYPERBREATH™ fabric which they have developed and trademarked after extensive research.