The Rise of Athleisure: When Sport Meets Fashion

Fashion trends are constantly changing. At least, that is how it usually is. Athleisure is not a usual fashion trend. Wearing casual but stylish outfits for nearly every occasion and implementing a sporty lifestyle is not only a common practice but a continuously growing market segment of the fashion industry today.

In 2019, athleisure wear has achieved a global revenue of 414 billion US dollars – and it is expected to increase rapidly in the up-coming decade. We give you an insight in the fast-growing and diverse world of athleisure, and tell you why it is important for your brand to consider influencer marketing in this industry.

The style on the streets has changed. Women are wearing leggings, crop tops and sports bras, men are spotted in sweatpants, hoodies and sneakers. Everyone looks like having just finished a work-out in the gym, while grabbing a cappuccino in a coffee shop, meeting friends for brunch or heading to the city center for a shopping trip.

This established lifestyle emphazises one thing: People have the need for comfortable clothing. Embodying an athletic and casual leisure time, that is what athleisure is all about. And there is no doubt that this segment of the fashion market is on the rise.


Athleisure Market

Source: Global Data


According to the findings of the market research company Global Data, the revenue of athleisure worldwide has increased by 34 billion US dollars in only one year, from 2018 to 2019. And it will continue to skyrocket. Within five years, the global revenue of athleisure wear is expected to achieve a growth of 49.9% – a promising development for the fashion industry in the future.

Athleisure as a Market Opportunity

By introducing sports and athleisure ranges, retailers and brands have maximized opportunities to profit from this growing trend. In fact, a fifth of the total clothing and footwear market is consisting of athleisure wear today. But what makes this fast-growing fashion trend so popular?

One of the major trends driving the athleisure market is the desire for a multifunctional wardrobe,” Honor Strachan says. “The demand for comfort, style and performance in clothing and footwear has encouraged consumers to include activewear in their core wardrobe – pairing items with denim, dresses or formalwear,” she continues.

To analyze the athleisure market in all its aspects, we spoke with the retail expert from Global Data in a Q & A session


What is athleisure?

Strachan: “It is sports performance clothing and footwear that has some kind of fashion design influence as well as sports technical features, such as the isolation of sweat working. Athleisure can be worn for sports, exercise or training, but also for casual wear. It is about this casual aspect of activewear. The end use of the product may be different from what it was specifically designed for.

Where does athleisure originate from?

Strachan: “In the US, athleisure has been around for a long time. The Americans have created that kind of coffee culture; going out for coffee after the gym in athleisure wear. So, it definitely started in the US and hit Europe around five years ago. It has grown since then and it continues to outperform overall clothing. There are still lots of markets overseas, where athleisure wear is relatively new. In China, it has just started to become a big trend. There is still a lot of opportunity for brands operating overseas, particularly in the Asian-Pac region.” 

Who is wearing athleisure? 

Strachan: “The most active wearers of athleisure are between 16 and 30 years old; people who are feeling younger and are also dressing younger. Fitness is becoming more important, so we are seeing a slightly older age group that is still wearing athleisure. They either want to buy sportswear or the athleisure look. Especially for women, it has become more of a fashion statement. The fastest growth has been seen in the women segment of athleisure.”

How do brands market athleisure wear? 

Strachan: “The brands that have been most successful in leveraging the athleisure trend and building their sales are those that can display their products to multiple audiences. A lot of marketing comes down to the in-store and online experience; how to present the items. To make a pair of running leggings look like casual wear would be to pair it with baseball caps, a bag, a belt, a more casual jacket or a hoodie – and automatically, it transforms a performance-led product into an athleisure look.”

Will the athleisure trend ever fade away?

Strachan: “No, athleisure is not a fad or short-term trend. As we are becoming far more conscious of health and well-being, it is one of those product areas that will continue to become part of the consumers’ wardrobe. So, the market is on the rise. People like to buy brands, they are buying into quality as well as function and innovation. They tend to be very loyal to their brands.”



Honor Strachan is the lead retail analyst at the UK-based data analytics and consulting company Global Data. She observes and analyses market sizes and trends within the retail and fashion industry. “Athleisure is one of the fastest growing clothing categories there is,” she says. 


Athletes as Influencers

When it comes to market athleisure wear, influencer marketing is an effective tool to help brands raising their profile as a cool sports or athleisure brand. More and more brands are therefore pairing up with celebrities for an ad campaign or a collection, or have sponsorship deals with sports athletes. 

I have a very intense look at potential cooperation partners and consider a lot, if we suit 100% to each other. It has to make sense for both sides and in this way, I make sure that the quality is maintained,” Bernadette Schild says.

For the Austrian ski racer and influencer, athleisure plays an important role – not only in her leisure time:

As a professional athlete, I am active all the time. For me, sportswear has to be functional, comfortable and fashionable. I travel a lot, tight jeans and elegant tops are therefore not the most comfortable clothing options. On the other side, I do not want to walk around in my pyjamas all the time. So, I like wearing sporty-elegant and casual clothes, such as leggings, combined with a stylish knit pullover, a coat and sneakers.

Living a sporty and healthy lifestyle, athleisure wear is more than just clothing for the 30-year-old: She can express her personality with what she is wearing while doing sports. 



Bernadette Schild is a World Cup alpine ski racer and fitness influencer from Austria, focussing on sports, outdoor activities, travels, fashion and lifestyle. On her blog, she writes about her professional skiing career, as well as personal thoughts and leisure activities.


Website: bernadetteschild.com
55.8k Instagram followers


Fast Facts 

  • The most popular hashtag on Instagram in connection with athleisure is #fitness with more than 374 million posts worldwide. Other hashtags are #athlete (15,4 million), #athleisure (1,3 million) and #athleisurewear (151k).
  • The largest product category within sportswear is footwear (nearly 30% of all sportswear).
  • The following athleisure influencers are advocates for a healthy and sporty life in various sectors, such as fitness, health, sports, fashion and food:



Roxi’s Ecke is a lifestyle and fitness blog by Roxana Strasser, which offers workouts, sport inspiration and motivation, healthy recipes, travel advice and lifestyle topics in general.


Website: roxi.rocks
137k Instagram followers




Daniel Fuchs embodies a sporty and casual but fashionable lifestyle. Today, he is one of the most popular male influencers in Germany.


Website: danielfox.de
2M Instagram followers




Benthe Marlene Mey Liem is a Dutch influencer and YouTuber, living in Amsterdam. She launched her own clothing line @bybentheliem back in 2018.


YouTube: Benthe Liem
161k Instagram followers


Athleisure is sporty fashion as well as fashionable sportswear. Women and men want to wear comfortable and casual clothes that look good and stylish. There is a clear message for the fashion industry: People will continue to buy athleisure wear – now and in the future.

Consumers are purchasing more consciously and reducing to spend money on fast fashion. That is playing into the hands of those retailers and brands that can showcase the versatility, durability and quality of their items,” retail expert Strachan says.

Living a sporty and healthy life has become more than just a fashion trend: it is a state of mind. Implementing a casual but aesthetic sense of style will therefore always be popular. Fashion brands who act on this established lifestyle, maximize their market opportunities. 



Annika is the German Curator at VOCAST. She is responsible for the fashion, lifestyle and interior research for all German-speaking markets. Since 2018, Annika is living in Copenhagen, which was not too long of a journey for the fashion and sports journalist from Hamburg.


Acting on the fusion of fashion and sport, our researchers have created lists with handpicked media, experts and profiles from the athleisure and fitness industry in Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.

Bernadette Schild, Roxana Strasser, Daniel Fuchs and Benthe Liem from this blogpost can be found in the German and Dutch lists of contacts.


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