Home / Industry / Athleisure, casual wear stay robust in post-covid world

NEW DELHI : Demand for athleisure and casual clothing will continue growing in line with the post-covid trend that has held strong despite the return of festive clothing and occasion wear in the December quarter, retailers said.

Companies said the trend points to consumers finding more comfort in casual wear and also mixing day-to-day pieces with formal clothing.

In the December quarter, department store chain Shoppers Stop saw strong demand for casual wear, despite an increase in demand for wedding wear and festive clothing. “I think if we look at the whole casual space, that has expanded and continues to grow. Even during the third quarter, where festive was a strong category, casual wear grew. The casualization trend that has happened (post-covid) will continue to be strong. Athleisure is a subset—that I think will definitely continue to grow because the base itself is low. It’s eventually about comfort and that’s something which customers have gotten used to," said Venu Nair, managing director and chief executive officer, Shoppers Stop.

Casualization as a trend within apparel will continue to remain strong, Nair said.

Jubi Samuel, senior director, category management, sports at Myntra said that athleisure is now “well ingrained" in people’s everyday wear. With more and more brands focusing on inclusive sizes, any-wear and all-day stylized comfort wear, this segment is poised to grow further, said Samuel.

On Thursday, Myntra announced the launch of Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar’s fashion brand Force IX on its platform. The brand will sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and caps targeted towards consumers looking for street wear and casual wear.

“Athleisure as a category (apparel and accessories) has witnessed a steady growth in demand from customers including from metros as well as tier-2 cities and beyond, with increasing focus and enthusiasm for fitness particularly since the pandemic. Interestingly, the growth of athleisure for women is faster than for men," Samuel said.

Samuel said the platform is seeing leading brands in this segment betting big on women’s athleisure and getting a lot of colour and print elements incorporated in their assortment.

“We are confident about the category continuing the momentum for calendar year 2023 with customers coming in from both metros, as well as smaller towns and cities," Samuel added.

The pandemic also took away the dominance of formal clothing as consumers swapped office shirts with causal t-shirts and joggers to stay at home for extended periods.

However, even prior to the pandemic, athleisure clothing such as leggings, tights, sweatpants, sneakers, hoodies, and jackets was established in popularity. Covid further accelerated the trend.

It helps that India’s demographic is also largely young, comfortable in joggers and sneakers at malls and cafes.

The pandemic also stoked consumer interest in health and fitness. This, in turn, is prompting consumers to buy more leggings, tracks and jackets.

At New Delhi’s popular Select Citywalk Mall, athleisure and sporting good stores have continued to do brisk business, growing ahead of 2019 levels. The mall has over a dozen brands that retail sneakers, fitness clothing, sporting goods as well as other athleisure assortments. These include Nike, Adidas, Puma and Decathlon.

Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO and executive director, Select Citywalk, said: “Fitness as a category is not going down and that will continue— things like sporting equipment and sporting goods will grow at a fast pace. It is because of covid that this category has gained momentum. For us, four categories including athleisure, beauty, electronics and watches are the key focus areas," he said.

Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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