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by Zoey Peters, Mackenzie Bialzik, Taylor Canaday, & Maggie Cleeland

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How did athleisure become so popular? Nowadays, more and more brands are designing clothes to fit a more leisurely lifestyle. We personally love the idea of being able to wear our gym clothes to run errands and feel presentable. And with all the brands coming out with cute workout sets and trendy sweat-suits it's become even easier to do this, and many people almost rarely “dress up.”

With brands like Lululemon, Athleta, and Free People Movement as well as celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid influencing others to wear athleisure clothing, it makes sense why its popularity has been growing. COVID-19 and the inability to go out also catapulted the athleisure movement. With the last couple of years making it very challenging to live life the way it was before, work and social, people have resorted to comfort over style. 

The ability to work remotely now allows people to opt for more comfortable daily attire than when they were going into the office. With only the top half of your body being shown, Zoom made leggings and sweatpants the new jeans and slacks. People have now become used to more casual, athletic daily fashion and they don’t want to return to their stiff dress shirts and slacks as they begin to go back to the office.

Influencers promoting new brands such as Alo Yoga or Halara are proving to be effective in this market. It has become increasingly easier to recreate our favorite celebrities outfits especially when they link the items they buy directly onto their social media platforms. With greater accessibility comes an increase in styles as well. Athleisure is now more than just a sweat suit or a pair of leggings, it's a tennis skirt with a crop top or a co-ord yoga set with a baseball hat. 

Whether or not the athletic part of athleisure is as popular as the leisure part is the question. Has athleisure’s growing popularity influenced a more athletic lifestyle? Athleisure alots for flexibility to go from work or school straight to the gym, without the hassle of having to run back home or pack a change of clothes. Athleisure makes exercise more convenient, which is one of it’s greatest benefits. Fashion adapts to changing cultures and athleisure is a perfect example of that.

With an increase in the popularity of athletic clothing comes competition between brands. Brands sell their clothing at different prices, ranging from All in Motion and Wild Fable sold at Target to Fabletics, Lululemon, and Athleta. So, how do these brands effectively outsell their competitors or convince consumers to purchase their products over others? For brands sold at Target, which range anywhere from $7 to $40, price is a big factor. Paying less for leggings means you can buy more pairs and also means you aren’t breaking the bank, but buying in a lower price range comes with a lack of quality. Lululemon and Athleta have made enough of a name for themselves and the quality of their leggings are so high, many are willing to drop upwards of $100 on just one item. 

For middle ground sellers like Fabletics, they had to get creative and began using a membership program to bring in more customers. Fabletics membership program is free to join and allows users to access special deals and prices on clothing. For example, they frequently offer a 2 for $24 on all their bottoms and a percentage off all items when you become a member. Along with that, they also offer price cuts for members. The regular price of a Fabletics pair of ⅞ black leggings is $64.95, but the member price is $49.95 or members can use one of their credits. Consumers have the opportunity to shop or skip every month, so they aren’t automatically charged. All in all, Fabletics membership program is a great way to bring in customers who want higher quality leggings at a more affordable price and allows them to try their brand with little to no financial risk. With more and more brands entering the athleisure pool, differentiating and attracting customers is becoming essential to their business model.

Since it has become ingrained in the daily wardrobe, buying a new pair of leggings from Lululemon is similar to investing in a new pair of jeans or pants for work. The costs mirror each other, reflecting an equal competition between business attire and athleisure. In the 4th quarter of 2020, Lululemon’s net revenue increased 24% according to Business Wire. As the pandemic continues on, these increases in Net Revenue across athletic apparel companies will be sure to grow. Within the next five years as the Pandemic ends and people begin to return to life as before, it will be interesting to see whether or not these new trends in athletic wear and the new companies forming will still be relevant in the fashion world. 

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