The sportswear industry is clearly a winner in 2021 as consumers continue to spend time at home exercising or on long dog walks.
Although the fashion industry struggled last year, it seems that activewear and athleisure brands flourished more than ever. With the majority of business meetings taking place in front of a notebook at home, leggings, tracksuit bottoms and loungewear have quickly become inherent pieces of our professional wardrobes. The U.S. sports apparel market was valued at $105 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $113 billion in 2021. This translates to a worldwide expectation for the industry of nearly £400 billion by 2024.
Data from 17,000 brands and 180 million consumers, confirms that athleisure orders jumped 84% since the start of the pandemic; in the U.K. alone, sales of women's athleisure bottoms were five times higher in December 2020 than they were in April 2020. And order volumes for men's athleisure clothing sales were 20% higher than in 2019.
People have questioned dress codes since the beginning of the pandemic. We've reached a point of no return as more and more people not only spend their time at home exercising — self-care is a trend too — but also spending their money on clothes that are simply multi-seasonal and multifunctional.
Sustainability, a long-time trend in fashion, has also arrived in the athleisure market. Consumers continue to discover and invest in new products with sustainable, durable and high-quality materials; many brands are looking to bridge the gap between fashion and innovative-functional designs. Girlfriend Collective - available at boutique-8.com – is ethically made activewear made from plastic bottles and fishing nets. You wouldn’t know it from the look and feel, but you’re diverting waste from landfills.
On-demand classes are now communities. Athleisure brands such as Alo Yoga (with its Alo Moves service) have become more inventive and developed on-demand offerings to bring yoga, fitness and wellness classes to their customers' homes and build new communities for like-minded fans. Despite the name, the Los Angeles founded brand is not just for the mat. It’s sweatshop free and the number one selling brand at Boutique 8 with their high waisted Airlift Legging being particularly popular.
Brands and the boutiques that house them must adapt in order to cater to the new reality and needs of their consumers. What has become increasingly clear is that consumers choose brands that reflect their personal values. It is no longer enough for brands to create a functional or even aesthetically appealing product — many consumers expect ethical manufacture and debate on social and political issues. This stays true within the shop environment and at Boutique 8 in Radlett plastic bags are a thing of the past and the store is cash-free.
Ultimately, brand performance will continue to thrive around those who understand their goals and leverage the right voices to reach the right consumers on the right channels in order to achieve their objectives and communicate their brand values. Positioned in the middle of the high-street, Boutique 8 aims to do this with a hyper-local approach whereby service and that all important morning coffee are key in Radlett. Customers become friends and friends are rewarded for their loyalty.
The approach extends to online sales with motivational messages in packages, tiered VIP discounts and personalised emails.
The boutique does not stock your standard activewear but rather focuses on high-quality brands sourced directly from Los Angeles, New York and Sydney. New customers online get 10 per cent off their first order and along with Alo Yoga, Koral are the headliners with Boutique 8 founder Alice-Emma Starr commenting: I've been passionate about activewear for years and as a regular gym-goer plus busy mother, I've selected products that look great in the gym but then last the whole day - from coffee and lunch through to school pick up and relaxing on the sofa."
Loungewear from Varley and Onzie with tennis gear from Lija and Lucky in Love are available as well as many other handpicked exclusive brands. There are small collections of menswear and girls too along with accessories such as high-quality protein supplements, gym and yoga mat bags, barre socks and bath salts.
Make sure you look good for that next gym session or Zoom meeting.
The boutique is open 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday in Radlett, WD7 and online at boutique-8.com.