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Tech

How Leggings Became a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry



CNN

Few could have predicted that one of the most derided sartorial pillars of the 1980s – a decade that never really benefited from the style resurgence of its defining eras – would be a full-fledged industry of its own. several billion dollars by the end of the 2020s. Yet it seems that leggings actually have the last laugh.

Valued at $32.89 billion in 2022, the global leggings market is expected to reach a value of $57.97 billion by 2031, according to analysis by market research firm Growth Market Reports. Data analysis by Statista predicts that 4 billion pairs of tights and leggings will be produced in 2027. These incredible numbers highlight not only a seismic sartorial shift, but also a cultural one.

While the world’s biggest luxury brands are understandably all keen to stretch their legs in this category – see Prada, Loewe and Moncler, luxury brands all offering leggings in their current collections – it’s not a business booming thanks to fashion. Rather, it’s an unprecedented and growing appetite for fitness clothing from brands that have built a loyal customer base based on sustainability and performance clothing.

Hey honey Yoga

German brand Hey Honey Yoga says its customers “prioritize functionality, quality materials and flattering cuts.”

Gone are the days of sweaty, itchy leggings that lose their stretch in the wash and create unflattering focal points; Today’s trendy leggings are highly designed and made from high-tech materials.

Take Vuori, the California brand whose workout tights cost between $98 and $108. Their Vuori brand fabric “BlissBlend” was developed from 75% recycled materials to create a super – yet lightweight – stretch loved by its customer base. The brand, for its part, claims that its “BreatheInterlock” fabric offers “moisture-wicking performance and an “airbrushed second-skin finish.”

“Fabric innovation is one of our biggest priorities,” explained Sarah Carlson, senior vice president of women’s design at Vuori, whose materials innovation team works on-site with its partner factories in Europe and Asia for between one and three years to produce their materials. “Our goal is to refresh the way people think and feel about performance fabrics and sportswear, while prioritizing materials that are environmentally friendly.”

German brand Hey Honey Yoga is a family-friendly rising star whose athletic tights cost around $120 and are both OEKO-TEX certified and PETA-approved vegan.

“Hey Honey customers are looking for more than just sportswear, they want a holistic experience,” says Tomma Oeljeschlager, who runs the brand with her sisters Imke von Johnston and Janka Oeljeschlager. “From the beginning, our goal has been to push the boundaries of this rapidly evolving industry. »

Vuori

Experts also believe that much of the appeal of leggings is due to their size inclusiveness.

Hey Honey Yoga says its customers “prioritize functionality, quality materials and flattering fits that allow movement while reflecting their unique style,” she said.

But it’s a competitive industry with a growing number of major players boasting millions of followers on Instagram, including On! Running (1.4 million subscribers); Gymshark (6.7m); Lululemon (4.7m); and, of course, Skims, (5.6 m), a brainchild of Kim Kardashian which has been widely recognized for the massive popularization of the body-con movement in which leggings play the role of protagonist.

“There is a die-hard millennial audience embracing shapewear like Skims,” said Lucie Greene, trend forecaster and founder of consultancy Light Years. “A lot of this has to do with the yoga, fitness and wellness culture, but there’s also the Gen Z audience for whom it’s important to be comfortable and casually dressed.”

In addition to performance and occasional benchmarks, an inclusive approach to sizing is key to success in this area, Greene added.

“(The popularity of leggings) has to do with inclusiveness. With expanded sizing offered by global, direct-to-consumer brands, leggings fit all body shapes in a way that other shopping categories like denim – and even stretch denim – don’t. ‘have never been.

“Inclusivity remains at the forefront of our minds throughout innovation,” Carlson confirmed, noting that Vuori “BlissBlend” offers multiple inseam options and in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. “The material uses an innovative special spandex that stretches to evenly conform to a variety of body shapes. The result is total body comfort and an evenly soft feel that our customers know to expect,” she said.

Nike

“Ultimately, our goal is to design products that make moving easier…Backed by incredible science and innovation,” a Nike spokesperson said.

Traditional sports brands are also present in the market, including Adidas, Puma and Nike. The latter says it has doubled its investment in “women’s-specific innovation” over the past two years to help its team understand the female body better than ever before, and tights are a key part of that.

“We know that leggings are essential to a woman’s wardrobe,” a Nike spokesperson told CNN via email.

“We have the opportunity to invite more people to discover the benefits of sport and the joy of movement,” they continued. “Ultimately, our goal is to design products that facilitate movement, making women and girls feel confident, comfortable, beautiful and strong, all backed by incredible science and innovation. »

Such innovation, Greene said, is the secret weapon behind this booming business. “Technical precision and proprietary fabrics become a key point of difference, fidelity and storytelling, as well as, of course, a way to charge a premium price, especially for a sophisticated audience investing in premium gyms. luxury and various scientific therapies to improve their bodies,” she said.

“In many ways, this ties into how innovation, in general, is becoming a pillar of luxury,” she continued. “Scientific development and exploration has become an aspiration for brands and is considered a luxury. »

Go back to the 1980s and leggings as a luxury would have been a difficult concept to understand; Fast forward three decades, however, as they turned out to be a garment with legs.

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