Being A Good Sport
The explosion of sports in the country can be attributed to increased accessibility for both children and adults. A number of sports academies have come up across the country and people today train both professionally and personally and sports is recognized as a good form of exercise. As a corollary to this, is the aspect of clothes related to sports as this plays an important part of the entire regimen itself. From 2015 to 2016 the Indian sportswear market grew 22 percent, outpacing the segment’s global increase of 7 percent according to Euromonitor. By 2020, it is expected to grow an additional 12 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) with sales expected to reach $8 billion.
India’s sportswear has evolved from a small health-conscious consumer base to larger segments driven by changing lifestyles and urbanisation. Rising income, influence of celebrities and even focus on health is being seen as key drivers. Growing interest in sporting activities and emphasis on fitness has seen a boom in the industry as consumers are more focused on adding fitness routines to their daily lifestyle. Millennials take a keen interest in fitness and make conscious efforts to walk the talk. The sportswear segment of apparel has seen a lot of changes and has evolved with time. Gayatri Nandra, Director, EveryWear, India’s leading active wear brand says, “in the past 3 years it has evolved dramatically for women. We are seeing bolder designs, vibrant colours and a host of local and international brands entering the market. The days of women working out in baggy salwars and saggy kurthas are long gone. I think this is due to the boom in gyms and greater awareness about staying fit and healthy. Plus – if women are going to cross fit, Zumba or spinning classes – they want to make sure they are wearing fashionable and functional gear. Most of our online customers are from tier 2 and 3 cities, so it is a pattern that is not just visible in the major metros. We believe it is a pan-India phenomenon.”
Naturally new launches of sportswear are seeing a trend where fashion is very much at the forefront. There is also a key trend where more and more customers are buying sports bras and experimenting with bold and design-heavy leggings. “We are also seeing tech coming into this space more and more and we ourselves are working on a tech platform that will allow folks to do Yoga in the comfort of their own homes safely and correctly. Developing this line of ‘smart wear apparel’ is a really exciting project for us,” says Nandra. The market has witnessed expansive development in this sector to cater to comfort needs of individuals be it professional athletes or health conscious individuals. Sportswear has also seen great variation in hardware after integration with technology. “The advent of artificial intelligence or AI in wearables has attracted a large consumer segment to invest in sports wearables. The expectation is personalised coaching experience concomitant with a healthy lifestyle. A number of times, it is seen that wearables get dumped because the end consumer does not know what to do with oodles of data points. Actionable feedback is required to keep the consumer engaged and encouraged to continue their regime. A connected fitness solution in this realm of wearables solves the purpose. The evolution of sportswear from fit to finesse can capture a new market altogether to continue its boom,” avers Aayushi Kishore, CMO and Co-founder, Boltt Sports Technologies.
A mainstream interest in yoga has also been reignited, following Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s declaration of June 21 as International Yoga day in 2014 — resulting in millions of people joining collective efforts to practice the country’s 5,000 year-old discipline. In fact, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 percent of its population in the working age group by 2020, and for many of them beauty standards have radically changed from those of past generations. Sportswear is expected to continue to grow over with the rising sporting culture, growing number of sports clubs across India’s regions and an increased emphasis on fitness are all expected to benefit the category. The youth is expected to show a greater interest in fitness and sport. Sportswear players are thus likely to introduce more fashionable products over the forecast period to target the youth demographic. The sportswear market is seeing good growth with each passing year. “Everyone is jumping on the sportswear bandwagon from Bollywood celebrities to top Indian sports stars. But simply endorsing a brand or slapping pictures of celebs will not help sales in this competitive marketplace. According to reports, the wellness/fitness industry – led by booming interest in yoga, jogging and gym membership – is growing at a healthy 20-25% per annum. This a huge market with enough space for a number of players – be they Indian or foreign. The major players like Nike, Adidas and Reebok have big marketing budgets and are very pro active on social media. Other small players like EveryWear just need to be more agile and nimble and have a laser-like focus on the needs of Indian women,” says Nandra.
As per experts, the athletic apparel market in India will be around $1.3 billion industry by this year. There is a sudden rise in the number of health conscious people who are contributing towards the growth of this industry. There is also a rise in the number of gymnasiums, jogging tracks and health clubs and the increasing popularity of sports other than cricket has also fuellled growth of Indian sportswear Industry. In January this year, former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar also launched his own sportswear and cricket equipment range in association with Australian sporting gear and equipment company, Spartan Sports International called Sachin by Spartan. As far as trends are concerned, working out in hot climates is a challenge. The latest trend in this segment is moisture wicking (to keep you dry), anti-microbial (to get rid of germs and bacteria) and anti-odour (no unpleasant smells) clothes. “The popularity of athleisure wear is not simply restricted to twenty-something’s or ‘yummy mummies’. We are seeing a growing band of women in their 40s and 50s getting into leggings for the first time and loving the feeling of freedom and comfort and the versatility of the products. They walk, sleep and work in them. Many are pairing them with Kurthas or oversized shirts. They are way more comfortable than a standard churidar. Every woman should have a pair of well-made black leggings in her wardrobe. Thereafter your collection will never stop,” concludes Nandra.
This story appeared in the July 2017 issue of Apparel magazine here: Sportswear