Fashion briefing: in the boom of “athletuxury”


This week, a look at the impact of the athleisure trend on the fashion industry as a whole.

In 2021, high-end fashion brands followed the DTC crowd and mass brands that expanded into the athletic or athleisure category in 2020. The mindset and style evolution of their Current customers have motivated their moves, as has the opportunity to attract a new period of protracted instability due to a pandemic.

Starting in January, Anine Bing launched Anine Sport with a range of leggings, sports bras and bike shorts priced at $ 59 to $ 149. In October, Roland Mouret, who was acquired this week by Self-Portrait founder Han Chong released a workout-ready bodysuit collection. The same month, now-public Zegna presented an outdoor capsule collection of “technical pants”, caps and skis. Finally, in mid-December, New York designer Adam Lippes announced a new active line, dubbed “Franger”, made up of jogging bottoms, tracksuits and pieces perfect for tennis.

Even the biggest luxury brands are testing the waters of sportswear – arriving a little late to the party, true to their habit. In November, Hermès brought its HermèsFit pop-up experience in Brooklyn, which has hosted yoga classes incorporating the brand’s signature scarves, as well as “kickboxing with bracelets,” positioning its bracelets like weights. While the space featured branded kettlebells and punching bags, the equipment was not available for purchase. Meanwhile, in January, Dior plans to roll out pop-ups and pop-ins for its new Dior Vibe collection of sports bras, boxers and gym equipment, in cities from Shanghai to Beverly Hills.

Brands that have recently made sportswear describe their offerings as ‘athletuxe’ and ‘luxury-leisure’. However, many sell the styles at a lower price than their ready-to-wear counterparts, by design.

Patricia Bonaldi, founder and creative director of Brazilian fashion brand PatBo, said that when her brand launched its first sportswear collection earlier this month, the goal was “to reach a wider audience and present the brand to a new audience “. The included styles, created in collaboration with Y7 Yoga Studio, are priced from $ 128 to $ 178. PatBo dresses start at $ 550.

The strategy worked for Anine Bing. According to the namesake founder of the brand, “AB Sport has broadened the appeal and exposure of Anine Bing.”

“Our data shows that new clients overindex in this category,” she said.

Adam Selman got into the sportswear category early on, pivoting his entire business in 2019 from focusing on the ready-to-wear collections showcased at New York Fashion to selling only performance styles, under the Adam Selman Sport label. After experiencing “great growth,” the brand announced this week the upcoming launch of a seamless sportswear category on January 4th.

“We were able to reach a larger audience with a more varied product type, more accurate pricing, and an expanded size range,” said Selman. The styles in the New Seamless Collection cost less than $ 100 and are available in sizes XS-XL.

Providing functionality, as opposed to just a trendy look, is essential for these brands, especially since they aim to adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

“Fitness and health are a priority for many,” said Bonaldi. “So mastering the technical aspects of performance clothing was important to me. ”

Each of the 20 pieces in PatBo’s sportswear collection is made from recycled fabrics and designed to wick away sweat. They are made in one of the “leading sportswear factories in the industry,” she said.

For her part, Lippes said in a press release that Franger is “meant to encapsulate the ever-changing lifestyle of the modern woman, from the tennis court to brunch.”

To convey the same message, Anine Bing regularly offers outfits on her e-commerce site that mix AB Sport styles, such as a pair of leggings, with pieces from the brand’s main line. Think: a menswear-inspired blazer, Bing said.

Likewise, Selman said, “We’re still talking about doing [styles that are] functional for the gym, but designed for life.

He added: “Life is a sport, isn’t it?”

Perhaps as a game of credibility, a theme among these brands is naming their new styles of sportswear after well-known athletes. For Franger, Adam Lippes paid tribute to Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and Mia Hamm, among others. And Roland Mouret’s styles include the Flo-Jo bodysuit.

Either way, the athletuxury trend shows no signs of slowing down. Last week, Philipp Plein announced the return of the Plein Sport brand, “to meet the demand for luxury sports products,” the statement said. The brand debuted in 2016, but was discontinued in 2018 “due to strategic decisions”. It will be available for purchase via a “metaverse-oriented e-commerce” site in April.

Meanwhile, Richfresh’s Patrick Henry, who claims to have coined the term “luxury-leisure” should release a complete line of ready-to-wear next year. And brands are currently testing sportswear with collaborations, like Maje with Varley, are to be watched.

As for PatBo, it’s a safe bet that the brand will build on the lessons of its Y7 partnership to soon launch into sportswear.

“It was important to [first] understand how my clients would react [to PatBo activewear], “she said.” But they love the designs and the cuts. “

Bing also sees a big response to its sportswear debut. She said AB Sport’s sales have been steadily increasing each season, and the brand expects the same growth to continue through 2022 as it expands the assortment. An AB Sport bag, called the Alex Tote, will launch in January.

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