Activewear has been a key driver in the apparel sector with high double-digit growth over the past decade. In the U.S. alone the annual active apparel market is about $35 billion, representing 17 percent of the total retail market. According to NPD, women were the biggest driver of growth in active apparel in 2014, making brands like Lululemon, Athleta and Lucy Activewear staples of women’s wardrobes.
So what’s next? The merging of fashion and technology is billowing into an industry of its own and is the next evolution of activewear, or what is called smart apparel — and women will be the drivers.
In published reports, Under Armour chief executive officer Kevin Plank estimates that within the next five years, 50 billion retail items will have a connected chip and that many of these items will be apparel-based. Indeed, technology forecasters are expecting smartphones and mobile devices to be replaced by wearables.
Women want products that are fashionable, comfortable, cutting-edge and above all, solve a real problem. Activewear is worn by women who are focused on their health, so smart apparel speaks to these women by helping them look good, feel good and listen to what their bodies are saying. Smart apparel enables women to not only monitor but adjust their activity level based on what their own bodies are telling them. As a working mother of twin girls, receiving a subtle ping from my smart apparel reminding me to occasionally take a deep breath and restore my inner calm would go a long way toward reducing daily stress.
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