India is past the second Covid wave and while the lockdown restrictions have been uplifted and most markets are operational and open in order to facilitate the recovery of the market and country’s overall economy, most people are still wary of going out and many have continued to work from home. Plus, with the change in consumer shopping behaviour, while most categories in the apparel segment are facing losses and witnessed a decline by almost 20 percent in 2020, key categories like athleisure, loungewear, etc., are coming to the forefront. Athleisure, as a category was already accelerating during the pre-COVID days and now, owing to ‘Work From Home’ as also the fitness needs of the consumers, the segment is witnessing significant acceleration.
According to Allied Market Research, the athleisure market size was valued at US $ 155.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US $ 257.1 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 6.7% from 2019 to 2026. Even as performance sportswear accounts to higher value share, athleisure segment is expected to grow at significant rate in terms of value sales. Athleisure is a trend of wearing clothes specifically designed for athletic workout which is now applicable for gym goers as also casual wear. The apparel category has also become increasingly acceptable to be worn in various social environment and even at workplaces. The trend has led to many mainstream fashion apparel brands to foray into the athleisure segment with their own collection of athleisure wear while also pushing many start-ups to enter the segment with their innovative athleisure range.
Rohan Shah, Founder and CEO, Truerevo, maintains, “Five years back, India was extremely price and brand sensitive. While the country is still price sensitive, people are finally starting to understand apparel better and they want performance in their sporting and active apparel and are ready to pay for the value they get. Activewear or athleisure also has become more accepted in day to day wear and we see a big shift in the applicability of our apparel there. Additionally, with the focus on and awareness on health, we see a huge demand for good quality fitness apparel.” Truerevo is a homegrown start-up which was launched in 2016 offering state-of-the-art innovative athleisure products with the aim to enhance people’s lifestyles. The Ahmedabad-based D2C brand first produced its Smart Phone Shorts, a functional product introduced as a long-term solution to carrying one's phone in their pocket and it was an instant hit with the consumers. This led to Truerevo building an entire range of products infused with cutting-edge technology. “Truerevo was born to create a true revolution in sportswear. We have been creating innovative practical products which genuinely solve customer problems. We now have a complete range of products for running, training and what we like to now call lifewear (activewear that can be worn in your day to day life). We have over 200 options across men and women segment and our price range varies between Rs 399 and Rs 3999, with median price being around Rs 1000,” avers Rohan Shah. The D2C brand primarily retails through its website and is basically an e-commerce brand with warehouses across 4 states, through which it caters to around 57 countries across the globe, a few of which are the USA, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, with a complete product range of sportswear and accessories. More than 90% of Truerevo’s sales come from its online channels and the rest from its experience store in Ahmedabad.
The right kind of push
The demand for athleisure apparel has been soaring across the country and even abroad as people continue to work from home and swap their gym routines for at-home workouts and as a result, a number of activewear brands have experienced strong sales growth over the past year. Besides this organic growth of the segment, Truerevo is ensuring that it ticks all the right boxes to click with its consumer base. Technological integration is one significant step that Truerevo abides by. “Since we are an e-commerce focused brand, we take tech very seriously. Currently, we have backend integrations, live inventory tracking and warehouse management across our online and offline channels. Once we have offline stores across the country, we plan to make them our mini hubs and have omnichannel way of retailing by across our online and offline stores,” asserts Rohan Shah.
Furthermore, with D2C market in the country continuously dominating the overall retail industry and soaring valuations and successive funding rounds of D2C start-ups each week, Truerevo have realised the potential of this business model and is leveraging it in the best way possible for its growth in the times to come. In fact, according to reports, the D2C segment is expected to become a US $ 100 billion addressable market by 2025. Rohan Shah elaborates, “As many niche brands like Sugar, Mamaearth, Cult-fit, etc have shown, D2C is growing at an exponential pace. However, I feel, Indian D2C brands still have to focus on a cash burn model customer acquisition model to grow, which is not necessarily the case in developed and mature markets. I see the value acceptance getting even better and customers accepting higher prices for better products, hence making even growing D2C companies net positive. For brands like us which sell differentiated and performance products, this trend will only make us stronger. According to me, key strategies to build a successful D2C brand is to build a great product, do the current amount of marketing, build great marketing collaterals, have a great go-to market strategy which builds genuine connection with the customer, use all channels like social media, website, email retail store, etc. for communication, keep innovating, use the best of technology, build efficiency, and keep scaling. We budget a minimum of 30% of our revenue for marketing and promotions. Truerevo bets big on social media channels for reaching out to our consumer base. We extensively use social media, go for constant content creation and collaborate with multiple influencers while also associating for organic as well as unpaid social media marketing. We have a robust content calendar for organic brand building.”
Truerevo has manufacturing units in Ahmedabad, Tirupur and Ludhiana and it also imports materials from countries like Taiwan, China and Europe. “We pay a lot of attention to get detailed product specifications through hardcore R&D on raw material, its functionality and design. Strict quality check protocol, vendor vetting and auditing, etc. are few prerequisites at Truerevo. What sets us apart from our competition is innovation and understanding of the customer requirements. We never focus on making me-too products and keep a single-minded focus on ensuring comfort and value for the customer,” tells Rohan Shah.
The way ahead
With this market growing at a phenomenal rate over the years with pandemic only accelerating this growth, its only natural that brands in the segment, especially the ones that’s keeping innovation and customer experience above all things, are slated for growth. While fashion trends are fast changing, every month and every year, athleisure is surely not a usual trend and is not short-termed. Athleisure is sure to dominate the fashion landscape in the coming years too even as the country has a long way to go in order to fully explore the category and its potential.
“While there were many challenges and the pandemic disrupted our supply chain completely and we weren’t able to carry on the production process, we pivoted and devised strategies of alternating attendance, multiple locations for manufacturing and also started a few smaller units of our own to ensure that the supply chain crunch is solved. Now with the situation getting a little better, we are planning to expand our retail presence with around 50 offline stores across the country in the coming years,” Rohan Shah concludes.