The versatile subsector of sportswear that is known as athleisure might seem like a bit of a crowded space at the moment. Brands such as the local mall stalwart Lululemon and pop star Beyonce’s brand Ivy Park have entered the space which is projected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Athleisure wear is a subsector of clothing that can be a little difficult for the average onlooker to pin down. True to its name it is a bit of a fusion of various types of clothing. One way to understand athleisure is to understand that the consumers who are purchasing these products are interested in filling their closets with clothes that are comfortable and that are appropriate for any occasion. This might mean a well-tailored pair of black pants that can easily be worn with a button down and a blazer to work and that is also breathable and stretchable enough to not be uncomfortable while easing oneself into a downward dog pose during a yoga session. Arguably this means that these sorts of consumers are looking to the get the most value that they possibly can out of their clothes by having clothes that can be worn to a variety of situations. Traditional sportswear retailers such as Macy’s, J.C. Penny’s and J.Crew all seem to be struggling as they adapt to the changing tastes of a new subset of the market. But even as these retailers which once took up a much larger space of shopper’s wallets and pocket books than they do now struggle athleisure brands are doing incredibly well.
This is probably because they understand how to market themselves to a new kind of consumer that is demanding something quite different from retailers than their forebears did. Perhaps one of the qualities that is making athleisure the lucrative business that it is is the fact that it positions itself as an item that can help a consumer live the kind of lifestyle that they want to live. In contrast with this other clothing brands seem to market themselves as being part of a lifestyle that customers should desire to aspire to or feel pressured to conform to rather than giving them the freedom to create the lifestyles that they want.
That said there are newcomers such as the athleisure brand Fabletics that was co-founded by actress Kate Hudson and the team who started the company TechStyle Fashion Group. One of the factors that has driven Fabletics’ success is its ability to listen to its customer base through the feedback they leave online about the company through online reviews. The process of sifting through the frank customer experiences that are left online can be a bit of a harrowing one. This is true especially in light of the fact that the nature of the internet encourages bluntness. But even this has not discouraged the team at Fabletics at taking the grievances that customers have expressed through their online reviews seriously. Fabletics has chosen to embrace the power of the crowd by listening closely to what its customers are communicating about its brand and their experiences with their brand through the reviews that they post online to review sites.