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Activewear, one of the hottest selling categories for DTC brands in 2021


Activewear one of the hottest selling categories for DTC brands in 2021The DTC activewear market remained one of the busiest in 2021 with a large number of acquisitions and IPOs being launched. Some of the most prolific deals in during the year included the acquisition of Sweaty Betty by Wolverine World Wide, the purchase of Beyond Yoga by Levi’s and the snapping up of Osprey by Helen of Troy, the owner of Hydro Flask.

In terms of monthly website visits Arc’teryx and Tracksmith remained the fastest growing DTC athletics brands. The monthly visits of Arc'teryx in the US spiked 264 per cent over that period while that of Alo Yoga increased 124 per cent and Tracksmith saw 75 per cent hike. The data was tracked by SimilarWeb, which also highlighted growth at equipment makers like Hydrow, Tonal and Mirror.

Investors cash in on rising popularity

In recent years, Outdoor Voices has emerged one of the most significant DTC brands in activewear market. The market is also attracting brands from otherActivewear one of the hottest selling categories for DTC brands in categories like intimate brand ThirdLove, which forayed into activewear in September 2021. It was preceded by Thinx bu a few months ago.

California-based brand Vuori recently announced a $400 million expansion that includes building 100 stores in the US and entering international markets. It brand has been one of the most profitable activewear brands since 2017 and aims to repay shareholders, says Joe Kudla, Founder and CEO.

Expansion plans of activewear brands are also being fuelled by rising interest of investors in the category. In recent times, many investors including Norwest GV and Forerunner Ventures have shown an interest in this category. Athleisure or active wear is currently one of the brightest spots in an otherwise challenged apparel sector. DTC brands can capitalize on growing popularity of activewear by selling through not just on their own DTC channels but also through wholesale.

Soaring popularity across categories

Athleisure has been one of the most significant segments in the apparel market. Over the last few years, the segment has attracted many streetwear, lifestyle and women’s wear brands. For example, On is creating many activewear and athleisure products.

The sector is attracting brands beyond DTC as well. In January 2020, Target launched its own private activewear label followed by Kohl’s. JC Penney revamped activewear range in January last year in order to strengthen its order book. Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor for Sports, NPD Group point out, activewear remains a hot category for fashion brands. The launch of stretch denim, stretch dress shirts, stretch suits is a testimony to this. The category is also popular in footwear with sports shoes now more popular than fashion footwear. In apparel, the trend is growing steadily with many brands launching activewear collections to cash in on their popularity.


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