Active fashion to lead rebound in US apparel sales

NPD’s latest The Future of Apparel report predicts that spending on apparel in the U.S. will continue to decline in 2019 but should see an uptick in 2021 as active fashion experiences accelerated sales growth. In some categories this upwards trend already seems to be shining through. Over the 12 months ended May 2019, NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service identified that total sales of sweats and active bottoms, for example, grew 8% to $23.6 billion, while sleepwear sales saw an increase of 2% to $7.8 billion.

Furthermore, while sales of dresses have actually seen a decrease of 3% in the last 12 months, totaling $15 billion, NPD expects the growth of the relatively new category of athletic dresses to more than compensate for this decline in the run up to 2021. Swimwear has also suffered this year, with sales dropping 4% to $5.8 billion, but NPD attributes this dip to the late arrival of summer in the U.S. and is confident that the category will see a turnaround setting it up as a growth driver over the next two years. “The future success of the apparel industry will rely on categories that act active but look fashion,” explained Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at The NPD Group, in a release. “Consumers are craving fashion but don’t want to sacrifice the comfort and convenience of activewear that they’ve grown accustomed to.” Indeed, this shift away from pure activewear was evident on Fall/Winter 2019-20 runways around the world earlier this year, with concerns for comfort and freedom of movement being combined with more classic cuts and feminine silhouettes in Paris, New York, Milan and London. “Today’s fashion is about easy style that is functional – an equation brands throughout the apparel industry can and should apply,” concluded Cohen.

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