Athleisure - comfort is king
Fitness is cool, fashion’s gone casual, and Athleisure is just too comfortable to go out of fashion, speakers told delegates at the ASBCI’s latest conference on the defining fashion trend of the 21st century.
Halifax, United Kingdom, 20 November 2018. The ASBCI’s Athleisure conference took the trend from the macro to the micro, examining the origins and future direction of what has become a cross-generational lifestyle shift before drilling down into the minutiae of the fibres, technologies, and testing processes required to optimise garment comfort, fit, quality, and speed to market.
A mix of cultural, social, and fashion factors led to the birth of Athleisure, and these forces are still driving it. The health and wellness trend shows no sign of abating, exercise has become aspirational, and everyone from A-listers to work colleagues are posting their #fitness selfies on Instagram. Dressing down is the new dressing up, but Athleisure isn’t just about looking good while working out, it’s also about feeling good.
The importance of comfort was mentioned again and again. ‘Customers are not prepared to sacrifice their new-found comfort and they are willing to pay more for it,’ said Jutta Vo Quang from Freudenberg as she outlined the performance characteristics she believes are here to stay, all of which are designed to enhance the comfort of the wearer. And it is in functionality that one of the great opportunities of Athleisure lies, both in communication and innovation.
‘At what point does a polyester jersey become a running vest?’ asked Helen Colebourn from Bureau Veritas. The answer is the point at which the retailer promotes it as such by highlighting its performance properties, whether these are inherent or engineered. Making technology visible through design features, co-branding, or point-of-sale marketing helps the consumer understand how a garment will enhance their life, and that’s what Athleisure is all about.
But that doesn’t mean design has no place. Athleisure is where fashion and function meet and the convenience of the ‘wear anywhere’ legging is matched by the desire to buy into the latest mini trend or capsule collection. ‘It’s hyper consumption v hyper collaboration,’ said Terence Senford, head of men’s Athleisure for Boss Menswear. ‘One thing is fuelling the other.’ Product cycles are shorter, production runs smaller, and product is more customised.
In such a dynamic marketplace, agility and adaptability are more important than ever, and the brands that can pivot in new directions as the opportunity arises will be the real winners. ‘Speed is the name of the game,’ said Jovita Balseviciene from Lectra. ‘Being the first to market with a wide range of quality products, priced right, is the key to success.’
The Athleisure conference was hosted by Dr Julie King, head of fashion for Northampton University and ASBCI event director, and was sponsored by Bureau Veritas, Lectra and Freudenberg.
About the ASBCI
The Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI) is a not-for-profit UK-based organisation with a membership that represents all key sectors of the clothing and textile supply chain. Formed in 1973, it is the only forum of its kind where component suppliers and fabric producers can exchange ideas and knowledge with designers, retailers and garment cleaning specialists. It operates without commercial preference and its impartial stance makes it a unique organisation, within an intensely competitive industry, where members can meet, discuss issues, and share their experiences – all together, at one time, in one place. Visit www.asbci.co.uk
About the sponsors
Bureau Veritas is a world leader in laboratory testing, inspection, and certification services. Created in 1828, the Group has around 75,000 employees located in more than 1,400 offices and laboratories around the globe. Bureau Veritas helps its clients improve their performance by offering services and innovative solutions to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructure, and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and social responsibility. Bureau Veritas is listed on Euronext Paris and belongs to the Next 20 index. Compartment A, ISIN code FR 0006174348, stock symbol: BVI. For more information, visit www.bureauveritas.com
For companies that breathe life into our wardrobes, car interiors, furniture and more, Lectra is crafting the premium technologies that facilitate the digital transformation of their industry. Lectra’s offer empowers brands and manufacturers from design to production, providing them with the market respect and peace of mind they deserve. Founded in 1973, today Lectra has 32 subsidiaries across the globe, serving customers in over 100 countries. With nearly 1,700 employees, Lectra reported revenues of $313 million in 2017. Lectra is listed on Euronext (LSS). For more information, please visit www.lectra.com
Freudenberg is a global technology group that strengthens its customers and society long-term through forward-looking innovations. Together with its partners, customers and research institutions, the Freudenberg Group develops leading-edge technologies and excellent products and services for more than 30 markets and for thousands of applications: seals, vibration control components, nonwovens, filters, specialty chemicals, medical products, IT services and the most modern cleaning products. Strength of innovation, strong customer orientation, diversity, and team spirit are the cornerstones of the Group. The 169-year-old company holds strong to its core values: a commitment to excellence, reliability and pro-active, responsible action. In 2017, the Freudenberg Group employed approximately 48,000 people in some 60 countries worldwide and generated sales of more than €9.3 billion. For more information, please visit www.freudenberg.com.