New York Fall 2014 Fashion Week is upon us and there is an infusion of fitness apparel launches on the fashion landscape. With major fitness fashion brands like Athleta hosting fashion week events, Under Armour launching their Women's Fall 2014 Collection and I Will What I Want Campaign and fitness fashion designers showing at Intermezzo and Coterie (typically fashion focused trade shows), the trends for activewear on the fashion scene and style on the fitness scene are here to stay!
One year ago today, I wrote an article for Work & Workout, on the emergence of fashionable workout apparel and indie designers onto the marketplace. Now it is evident this trend has come full circle.
I decided to check in with one of my favorite fashion editors and friends, Anne Slowey, the Fashion News Director of ELLE magazine, and former competitive athlete and swimmer, now rower, to get her take on the current fashion and designers emerging onto the fitness scene. She has an eye for new talent, values the history of fashion and, at the same time, doesn't exude the same breathlessness over every new fad.
What began in 1998 with the launch of Lululemon, as a stylish yoga brand, has now, in 2014, evolved to over 100 designers emerging onto the fitness fashion scene including my favorites -- Alala, Prismsport, Splits59 and Vimmia; popular fitness studio's co-branding with designers for custom collections-SoulCycle, Barry's Bootcamp, Flywheel and Tracy Anderson to name a few; and high profile fashion designers with activewear collections such as Norma Kamali, Cynthia Rowley, Tori Burch and more.
"There is a huge trend right now towards chic athletic wear -- for people who work out and for people who want to look like they just worked out. All of the major departments stores are trying to figure out how to capitalize on this trend now, and the category is only going to get larger in the next few years," says Anne Slowey, Fashion News Director, ELLE magazine. "Lululemon was there first, but there is going to be a huge growth in this category, both by designers and brands."
We are seeing a huge shift in the fitness activewear category and an influx of creativity, design and innovation. There is a tremendous market for fashionable fitness apparel and a great opportunity for new designers, retailers and ecommerce. Some of Anne's favorite designers include Vicki Bartlett who designs VPL and Stella McCartney for Adidas.
Stella was the first designer to partner with an athletic brand and it just gets better each season, and Nike takes its inspiration from much of what they shop at VPL. I also love Net-A-Porter's new Net-A-Sporter. The Monreal London tennis dresses could easily work as strictly fashion. They also have Rick Owens cashmere sweats, which would be the penultimate purchase for the woman who has everything. I also like Athleta a lot -- I think they mix fashion and performance in a relatable way. Sweaty Betty, a brand from the UK, also offers great yoga and dance inspired workout wear.
While many of the aforementioned brands have their own retail stores, there are many new shopping options for consumers from ecommerce sites like Carbon 38, major department stores like Bloomingdales creating sections for workout apparel and multi-brand fitness fashion retailers like Bandier in Southampton popping up on the retail scene. When I asked Anne what she thought, she said:
This is happening now because even on the runway there is an interest in athletic gear, not only from a design standpoint, but also from an ongoing consumer demand for comfort, which is answered by all the technological fabric innovations that are out there. Add to that a resurgence of fascination for the 60s and 70s and the timing couldn't be more perfect for the acceptance of gym-to-the-street style clothing, making it easier for women to go from morning drop off to the yoga studio to lunch without having to lug around a giant bag full of clothes. I think we are seeing a revolution in fashion that started with normcore and has worked its way up the luxury market with what I have been identifying as "anonymous luxury" since fall 2013. Recently, everyone from Business of Fashion and the New York Times are writing about the trend. More fluid lifestyle choices are what are resonating with women all over the world today.
With more and more women spending time at the gym, an average of 3-4 times per week, there is a growing market for fashionable workout apparel. As these women look to establish their own style for their workouts, in the same way they do with their social and work wardrobe, they seek a variety of designers and places to shop. It is my prediction that by 2015, women will be shopping seasonally for activewear and workout apparel.
My own experience is not so different from Anne's. After 15 years of innovating marketing and public relations campaigns across fashion and fitness in their distinct categories, my clients within these industries have begun to converge as I forge strategic partnerships between new boutique fitness studios, influential instructors and major fitness fashion brands. This year at the Salup Group, we have launched campaigns for emerging fitness fashion designers as well as built event programs in popular fitness centers for fashion and lifestyle brands, including our most recent activation where Under Armour, for the launch of their women's fall fashion campaign, sponsored a series of classes with Andia Winslow at Chelsea Piers and Aqua Studio. At this moment, we are standing at the edge of where the fitness fashion market is heading, and the future for both is looking up.