Where Did Athleisure Go? Everywhere. That’s the Problem.

Remember when everyone was talking about the white-hot athleisure business? This chatter has faded away over the last couple of years as tailored clothing categories have soared. But athleisure has not gone away; it’s just gotten a little quieter.

Let’s look at how activewear has been doing in our client stores and then examine the new role of athleisure in the better end of the market.

Men’s activewear was down 13% over the 90 days ending in January, and down 10% in December. In women’s, activewear was up 6% over the same 90 days, and saw a 5% increase in December — about the same growth that we saw last spring, but not a significant uptick.

Part of the reason for the slump is that activewear pieces tend to live in our closets longer since they are essentially basics that wash well. So, the turnover rate is lower than that of sportswear and ready-to-wear, and not as susceptible to trend cycles.

Activewear is also ubiquitous, especially in the mid and lower ends of the market, where competition is fierce.

There is also another important factor at play on why we are not hearing so much about athleisure in our client stores.

Some higher-end retailers didn’t really want to play in this lower-margin category, so they reduced their inventory or moved onto what is now being referred to as “quiet luxury”.

This makes sense given that quiet luxury also comprises of basics, just beautiful ones. You may not be able to workout in this category, but you can certainly look great visiting the grocery store or walking your dog.

So, where did athleisure go? The answer is twofold — in the mid and lower ends of the market it went everywhere, making it a less appealing option for better retailers. And on the high end, it morphed into “quiet luxury”.

Looking ahead, we will be curious to see how sportswear does overall, given that the knitwear business was a flop last year. Sportswear, and some higher-end athleisure, may be due for a resurgence this fall. We’ll keep our eyes on the numbers and let you know.