Eye On Apparel: Fit And Fine From A Distance

 

Spending more time at home and indoors has not stood in the way of consumers across the globe who are looking to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Like many other industries, the fitness industry also saw a notable shift during the pandemic, with an upsurge in the number of users who are accessing at-home workout programs via the internet or streaming on-demand fitness classes via smartphone apps. With fitness centers being one of the last types of business to reopen to the public this year, consumers have had even more incentive to start pumping iron in virtual classes at home.

According to “Global Mobile Consumer Trends 2020,” a report by customer engagement platform MoEngage and mobile app intelligence company Apptopia, health and fitness app downloads by new users worldwide increased 46 percent between the first and second quarters of 2020. Leading with a 156-percent increase was India—a statistic that correlates with the country’s major lockdown that kept 1.3 billion people at home—followed by a 55-percent increase in new users in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), a 47-percent increase in the Asia-Pacific region, a 25-percent increase in Europe, a 21-percent increase in North America and in South America, and a 43-percent increase in the rest of the world, representing a pool of 1.5 billion mobile app users. Coupled with the increase in downloads was a boost in usage time, which rose 24 percent between the first and second quarters. And growth in the fitness app market isn’t expected to wane anytime soon. According to research by India-based Data Bridge Market Research, this sector of the industry is expected to grow at a rate of 21.3 percent through 2027, providing an opportunity for companies in this space to expand their product offerings to draw more at-home users.

In addition to fitness apps, some gyms are entering the virtual space by streaming their own content. Barry’s Bootcamp launched Barry’s At Home, offering four kinds of virtual classes, and other chains like Equinox, Life Time and Crunch Fitness started sharing workout classes via social media or on company websites. Even Lululemon, an athletic apparel brand with a cult-like following, got involved in the virtual fitness surge by purchasing Mirror, a home fitness brand, in July for $500 million, writes Intelligencer. Similar to Mirror, Peloton—a company that manufacturers a stationary bike that connects to its own fitness app, which users can tap into to stream workout videos while using the product—also saw major growth, generating $607 million in revenue in the quarter ending June 30, up from 172 percent year over year, according to Intelligencer. Peloton also reported that the average usage time per subscriber had doubled, with users completing an average of 24.7 workouts per month, up from 12 this time last year.

In the U.S., many Americans are finding the convenience factor of fitness apps particularly appealing. Freeletics, a software developer providing fitness and lifestyle coaching, surveyed 2,000 Americans to see how they were spending their time during quarantine, and to better understand where the U.S. fitness industry was headed. The survey found that 64 percent of Americans are more interested now in at-home fitness options, and the average American used two fitness apps and took four virtual classes per week during national lockdowns. The survey also found that during this time, 41 percent of Americans who used fitness apps did so for the very first time, and 58 percent felt so confident in their at-home workout routines that they planned to cancel their gym memberships. Seventy-percent of Americans cited turning to at-home workouts as a way to cope with the stress of the pandemic, with 60 percent of men surveyed saying their top reason for exercising during this time was mental health-related; a sentiment shared by just 46 percent of women, third after reducing boredom (52 percent) and getting in shape (50 percent).

For active users who are lifting weights and doing yoga in their living rooms, and quickly transitioning between exercising, working from home, helping with homeschooling and other caregiving roles, and doing whatever else needs to be done, athletic apparel or “athleisure” in a post-pandemic world allows wearers to shift between their many roles throughout the day without having to change their outfits, writes Linchpin, a Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based marketing agency. Athleisure has also become a sector of the fashion industry that’s particularly sought after. According to Allied Market Research, the U.S. athleisure market was valued at $155.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $257.1 billion in 2026, demonstrating a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 percent.

For their many athletic endeavors, end users need proper gear, giving brands an opportunity to market their message further. End users are steering away from monochromatic black-and-white leisurewear and are experimenting more with color, primarily pastels, writes Linchpin, with a turn toward ’90s influences, like classic color-blocked windbreakers, crop tops, showy track jackets and hoodies bearing oversized logos. According to WhoWhatWear, biker shorts are beginning to surpass leggings in popularity, something that’s largely influenced by Kim Kardashian West and Yeezy-styled attire—and according to Edited, a retail analytics company, the biker shorts trend has increased 2,000 percent in the non-active apparel category and 363 percent in the activewear category.

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During quarantine, Americans have experimented with a variety of different exercises and expressed a range of reasons for working out during this time. Here’s what they said, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans by Freeletics. 

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  • Meditation: 34%
  • Running: 32%
  • Walking: 31%
  • Yoga: 29%
  • Pilates: 24%
  • Hiking: 21%
  • Outdoor biking: 20%
  • Spinning: 19%

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  • Get in shape: 53%
  • Reduce boredom: 52%
  • Improve mental health: 52%
  • Reduce stress/anxiety: 44%
  • Strengthen immune system: 43%
  • Improve overall health 40%

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Comfortable, casual and easy—that’s what end users will feel about the Ladies RIVAL Fleece Hood and Ladies Rival Fleece Jogger. Made from a blend of 60-percent cotton and 40-percent polyester sueded fleece fabric, the hood and pants share the same striped woven taping. Details include a contrast jersey-lined hood with sewn eyelets and matching drawcords, a set-on pouch pocket and a tearaway label. Available in four unisex and ladies’ styles, sizes S-2XL, in red, navy, royal and black (shown).

J. America  /  PPAI 351699, S1  /  www.jamericablanks.com

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Inspired by the classic track jacket look popular in the ’90s, the Vintage Poly Fleece Track Jacket is the perfect complement during a brisk afternoon walk, or to throw on while tuning into a Zoom call. Made from a blend of 70-percent polyester and 30-percent cotton fleece fabric, the jacket features vintage white applique sleeve stripes and poly fleece side gussets, and front pouch pockets. Available in S-3XL in black, graphite, Kelly, navy and red (shown).

J. America  /  PPAI 351699, S1  /  www.jamericablanks.com

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Whether you’re working or working out, the Unisex Triblend Short Sleeve Tee is an everyday staple. A bestselling item, this tee is made from a tri-blend of 50-percent polyester, 25-percent Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton and 25-percent rayon—with a slight fabrication variation for black heather triblend—and features a modern fit with a crew neck. It’s also made in factories that are eco-friendly and 100-percent sweatshop-free. Available in XS-3XL in 52 unique colors, shown in spring green.

BELLA + CANVAS  /  PPAI 304892, S6  /  www.bellacanvas.com

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For comfy sweatpants with a classic, tapered fit, the 60/40 Fleece Jogger is perfect for an afternoon run, a trip to the grocery store or a late-night gym sesh. Made from a blend of 60-percent cotton and 40-percent polyester athletic fleece, details include a rib-knit waistband and bottom cuffs, a back patch and side seam pockets, a woven label and a half-inch cotton braided drawcord on the outside waistband. Available in S-3XL in carbon heather, navy, black and charcoal heather (shown).

Augusta Sportswear Brands  /  PPAI 187246, S5  /  www.augustasportswear.com

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A great pullover to grab on your way out the door for an early morning walk, the Ladies Zoe Tonal Heather Pullover will become a favorite go-to item. Made from 100-percent polyester tonal performance wicking fleece and featuring 100-percent polyester lightweight mesh shoulder inserts, it’s also moisture-wicking and features a crew neck, a tag-less label, raglan sleeves with thumbholes, self-fabric cuffs and bottom band, and a split hem with a dropped tail. Available in XS-2XL in eight colors, shown in coral.

Augusta Sportswear Brands  /  PPAI 187246, S5  /  www.augustasportswear.com

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The Women’s TriTec™ Racerback Tank is a great addition to any woman’s closet. Made from a performance technical tri-blend of 75-percent polyester, 15-percent cotton and 10-percent rayon, this tank has a modern fit with a feminine contour and a scoop neck with a drop-tail hem. It’s also made in the USA and is available in XS-2XL in seven colors, shown in deep red.

Expert Brand  /  PPAI 267226, S2  /  www.expertbrand.com

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The Men’s Siro™ Raw Edge Muscle Tee is destined to become the new favorite tank. Made from 100-percent microfiber polyester Siro™, it features a modern fit and dropped armholes with raw edges and an inside-out look, giving it a worn, rugged feel. It’s also made in the USA and is available in XS-3XL in four colors, shown in stone blue.

Expert Brand  /  PPAI 267226, S2  /  www.expertbrand.com

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Made popular by Kim Kardashian West, the Women’s High Waist Biker Shorts reach the mid-thigh and work to sculpt, lift and add a smoothening effect. Made from 87-percent nylon and 13-percent spandex, they are manufactured in factories that are eco-friendly and 100-percent sweatshop-free. Available in XS-2XL in black, storm and lilac (shown).

BELLA + CANVAS  /  PPAI 304892, S6  /  www.bellacanvas.com

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The Imperial, The Original Performance Cap is made from 100-percent polyester, and features UPF 50+ ultra-violet protection to shield wearers from some of the sun’s harmful rays. The unstructured, low-profile cap features a pre-curved visor, grey under-visor and a performance sweatband. Available in 16 colors, shown in azure blue.

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com

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In line with the resurging ’90s windbreaker trend, the Champion® Packable Jacket is a convenient addition to tuck in a duffle or glove compartment before a trip outdoors. Made from a 100-percent lightweight polyester micro-poplin, it’s both water- and wind-resistant. It also features a scuba collar with a hood and open bottom with shock cords to keep wearers snug and warm. Best of all, it packs into a hidden front zipper pocket for easy carry. Available in XS-2XL in 17 colors, shown in teal.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com

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For those who prefer walking, jogging or running outdoors, personal safety is always a concern. With the pull of a tab, the Personal 120 DB Alarm—which can be attached to clothing or hand-carried—will sound an alarm with a 45-minute duration to draw attention to the wearer and their situation. It features a USB-charging 140mAh polymer battery with a 30-minute charging time. Also available is the option to upgrade to a Bluetooth-enabled version that connects to the PPSafety App, which, with the press of a button, will record the wearer’s location and send to emergency contacts, and even issue a fake phone call. Available in grey and lime (shown).

 

One Up Bands/ZipIt Belt  /  PPAI 448632, S1  /  www.oneupbands.com

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To help cool off and unwind after (or during) virtual workout classes or a virtual marathon, suggest a FrigiTowel Original cooling towel. Made from cozy 100-percent cotton terry, users can simply remove the towel from its easy-open package, shake until unfolded and drape it around the neck for instant relief. Once removed from the package it instantly becomes cooler than the ambient temperature. The towel’s cooling effect is single-use only, but the towel is reusable. It also features a sweet, citrus scent. Available in white.

Pro Towels  /  PPAI 112755, S8  /  www.protowels.com

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For end users who prefer bolder, more playful looks, consider these Leggings/Yoga Pants. These are made from 95-percent polyester and five-percent spandex, and they’re moisture-wicking. They are also custom, allowing for a 100-percent one-of-a-kind allover design for your client’s brand. Available in S-2XL.

In Your Face Apparel  /  PPAI 254968, S5  /  www.inyourfaceapparel.com

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Compact and lightweight, the ZipIt Belts Soft Flasks will become recipients’ favorite grab-and-go accessory to bring on their workouts. This soft flask is worn around the waist, and is collapsible for easy storage and transport, with a one-handed operation valve for staying hydrated on the move. It’s also easy to clean, with a wide mouth design and a two-piece cap. Available in 250ml (8.5 ounces) and 500ml (16.9 ounces) in royal, lime and hot pink.

One Up Bands/ZipIt Belt  /  PPAI 448632, S1  /  www.oneupbands.com

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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