Topic of the day: The change to activewear in seismic fashion


Our lives have been devastated by the pandemic, causing millions of people to work remotely. With activewear and loungewear sales soaring, it has also influenced fashion – maybe forever – a trend that is expected to continue, as is dressing above the keyboard.

Suits, ties and formal clothes….

…have been mostly relegated to the back of the wardrobe, with no need for an office setting to dress up. This led to a global move towards loungewear and activewear, which is a field of rising sales – in a tumultuous time for retail as a whole.

Is the market going to boom?

Online sales of activewear accounted for 40 percent of overall sales in 2020, a record high, according to NPD – a global body that tracks how customers buy across all platforms, from the Internet to brick-and-mortar shops. And the active wear market was valued at $353.45 billion in 2020 and is forecast to hit $439.17 billion by 2026, according to research data from analytics company Comprar Acciones.

Are retailers replying?

Some of the biggest retail names are responding, including Marks & Spencer, to the change to work-at-home and the need for less formal wear. This year, the retail giant will add children’s and men’s wear to its Goodmove active women’s fashion collection, expanding its emphasis on casual, comfortable apparel. M&S found that more than half (52%) of its customers are gradually wearing active wear as daily wear, with 24% citing daily suitability as a main buying factor.

Huh? Fitter?

Of those surveyed, 80 percent of M&S clients have said that in 2021 they wanted to be fitter. “2020 cemented activewear as a staple in our closets – we wore it not just to workout, but to work.”2020 cemented active wear as a staple in our closets, not just to workout, but to work.

Next, next.

For a collection of activewear clothes to meet demand, Fashion house Next has taken Olympic gold medalist Denise Lewis OBE on board. The Denise Lewis version is now available in shops and has a “functional and stylish” range designed for the “the gym of life.”

Are we now needing more casual jeans?

The annual pattern study by online retailer Asos says the most significant finding is that consumers are searching for comfort. Asos announced during the lockdown that relaxed jeans overcame skinny jeans sales for the first time in years, with a 222 percent spike year-over-year, while more than 100,000 pairs of loose-fitting, high-waisted “dad jeans” were sold. More than 1.5 million T-shirts and 760,000 tracksuits were sold by Asos as well.

“Dressing above the keyboard?”

Spurred by Zoom calls in 2020, the style “above the keyboard” became a trend that fused casual “out-of-shot” activewear and loungewear to make a statement on the screen with “in-view” tops, necklaces, chains and earrings. Asos announced that over two million units of caps, necklaces and earrings were sold.


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