The trend has resulted in many women choosing yoga pants over jeans in various situations, according to an article by Hollie Shaw in the Financial Post. Interestingly, one market study showed that less than half of those activewear pants were purchased with plans for athletic activity. “I think a big part of it is comfort, style, fit, and how it makes you feel,” Inez Blackburn, president of market research firm Market Techniques and Innovations, was quoted as saying in the article. “Yoga pants are reinforced with spandex and Lycra, and although some jeans have that functionality, yoga pants are designed with those added features to make you look good when you wear them. They are often more flattering then [sic] jeans.”
The success that apparel company Lululemon has shown in this area in recent years has pushed the big sportswear brands to work to catch up, according to an article by Ashley Kindergan in the Financialist. She quoted Gwen Manto, a former chief merchandising officer at Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods, on the topic: “As people [sic] like Lululemon put more fashion into their products, then it really forces Nike and Under Armour and the traditional athletic resources to put more fashion—and quality—into their products as well.”
Numerous other companies—including Athleta and Victoria’s Secret—also are competing for sales of women’s athletic apparel, which grew 9 percent in the 12-month period that ended June 15. That compared favorably with the 6.8 percent growth in the overall category, according to the NPD Group, as reported by USA Today. That article also stated that Nike believes that sales in its women’s category will nearly double over the next five years—from $5.7 billion to $11 billion. It noted that Under Armour is nearing $1 billion in sales in its women’s apparel segment.
Competition Fuels More Targeted Messaging
Those companies and others in the market are appealing to a demographic that includes a growing number of females who identify themselves as sports fans. One estimate has women making up 46 percent of all NFL fans, according to an article in Adweek. The NFL’s vice president for consumer products, Rhiannon Madden said the organization took a look at all of its products for women a few years ago. “We had a growing female fan base who were just as avid as the male fans, but we weren’t giving them the best outlet to express their fandom.”
Adweek continued, “The NFL worked to create more sophisticated offerings for women, like vintage-inspired tees and apparel, more plus-size and juniors apparel, and a full line of women’s-size jerseys.”
Madden also discussed the NFL’s strategy in a Fashionista article by Maura Brannigan. “Each year we get a little smarter about it, a little more sophisticated about it,” Madden said. “We look at what’s happening in the marketplace, what’s on-trend, what women are wearing on the street and also what women are wearing in stadiums. We take cues from our fans, as well as what’s happening in fashion.”