By Vaishali Dar
Over the years, Decathlon, the French sports retail brand, has strengthened its goodwill in India. So much that it enhanced its presence in Delhi-NCR with the launch of its 12th and the biggest (3,000 sq. ft) store last month. It houses over 1,000 brands and 80,000 SKUs for activities like hula hoop, football freestyle, basketball shootouts, zumba and more. Known for its high level of engagement, enhanced buying experience with dedicated activity zones, the brand caters to form-fitting, athletic-inspired, easy dressing segment also called athleisure.
Sportswear that doubles up as casual wear, often called as athleisure (athletics and leisure), is a casual, comfort and easy to wear segment for all age groups. So if you are a raging fitness enthusiast or a smart city entrepreneur, you don’t have to worry about sweat stains or smelly fabrics during an intense workout session or an evening stroll with your neighbour. Less bulky, thoughtful cutouts and vibrant colours, athleisure combines fashion and function in quick-drying, moss-finish and moisture-wicking fabric. From yoga pants, lightweight bomber jackets, slim leg joggers, jogger shorts, sporty bra tops and hoodies to pumped-up kicks, hip or fanny packs, the colourful range fits all sizes and needs. “Athleisure blurs the boundaries between sports, work and travel. It is a performance wear that can be worn as everyday wear,” says Roshan Baid, MD, Alcis Sports.
Athleisure gives the flexibility of comfortable dressing as one does not need to compromise in style or comfort and can wear the same attire as daily wear, work wear or gym wear. “It’s a time-saving solution and gives freedom to move around without having to carry extra clothes and baggage. It offers options in styles, mix and match pieces and one can play with colours and silhouettes,” says Abdon Lepcha, creative director at Cravatex Brands, the parent company of Italian sportswear brand Fila in India. With the segment becoming popular with consumers, numerous fashion retailers are capturing a share of the global market. According to Technavio, leading technology research and advisory company, the global athleisure market for the forecast period 2019-23 will grow by $122.66 billion at a CAGR of nearly 7%. “Sportswear market is the fastest growing market with a size of about Rs 12,000 crore in India.
We have seen our performance wear segment grow from Rs 45 crore in FY18-19 to Rs 65 crore in FY19-20,” says Baid who manufactures and retails t-shirts made from recycled plastic PET bottles. The range comes in vibrant colours instead of dark and muted tones; are germ-resistant and suitable for humid temperature. “We use moisture-resistant and anti-odour technology to make it a complete performance wear,” he adds. Earlier this year, Alcis Sports collaborated with ace athleisure designer Narendra Kumar for an exclusive collection of sustainable gym meets work wear label ‘Alcis X Nari’ which has gymwear, casual workwear and yoga/outdoor wear and focuses on fashion and sustainability. It comes in R-Elan fabric and latest technologies (dry-tech, anti-odour, anti-static, anti-UV).
Moreover, the psycho-graphic changes in lifestyle have helped the brands to understand customer habits that drive purchase decisions. “The rise in awareness level for nutritional eating, fitness and lifestyle goals and global influences have propelled this trend,” says Lepcha. Shruti Chhapia, owner and director of Dive sportswear, uses the colour combination of the Indian Tricolour on products as it combines inspiration and creativity and reminds the user of India’s glorious past and the importance of the freedom struggle. “This helps in changing the way our consumers buy or wear active wear,” says Chhapia.
Athletes and celebrities like Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have launched their athleisure lifestyle brands. Taking the fashion game a notch higher, Hrithik, in 2012, started his fitness and sportswear brand HRX that creates lightweight and premium fabric products. In 2014, Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli launched Wrogn and multiple brand extensions of his own versatile brand called One8 which has athletic wear, formal shoes and an energy drink along with various partner brands. In 2016, Shahid Kapoor launched Skult (Shahid+cult), an athleisure fashion brand in association with All About Fashion, the digital arm of Aditya Birla Retail. Following international trends, athleisure seems to be here to stay in India. With big brands all set to encash the growing demand and fitness crazy consumers’ craving for innovation, sportswear is the way to go on the fashion street.