Which brands will be the rising stars of athleisure in 2016?

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Athleisure was a rising star of 2015, with new and existing brands exploring the fusion of fashion and functionality to create garments good enough to wear both inside and outside the gym.

But with speculation that the athleisure market will be valued at $83 billion by 2020, scope still exists for a string of serious new players.

Consumer purchasing is being fuelled by the global yoga addiction and a rise in cult-like fitness communities such as Crossfit and Kayla Itsines’ BBG. With this, comes a desire by the collective to be seen on social media as early adopters of new brands – particularly the ‘indie label’ – wearing the newest leggings or crop.

Nike demonstrated a strong commitment to the female market this year, with the opening of the first women’s only store in London, and lululemon continued its expansion plan opening stores in both the UK and Europe.

But whilst the big players battle it out for global market share, in the US, Outdoor Voices, a fresh face for the fitness fashion industry, secured $7m of venture funding in a round led by General Catalyst.

As startups explore the convergence of fitness and fashion in innovative and exciting ways, from use of sustainable materials to built-in resistance panels, we explore whether they have what it takes to disrupt the market.

Aeance

Premium athletic fashion with a strong focus on timeless style, highest performance and eco-sustainability.

Bridging the gap between fashion design and sports, German label Aeance are creating timeless apparel for both sports and athletics. Ultimately, these are clothes to live in – whether running a marathon, sprinting across town to run errands or flying to the other side of the world, Aeance aspire to design garments that fit effortlessly into everyday life.

Designed in collaboration with German fashion designer Hien Le, the premium brand is the latest label to leverage the growing relationship between high fashion and fitness. Tory Burch, Stella McCartney and Derek Lam have all found success with their activewear lines, proving how profitable the crossover between the two industries can be.

Jogha

Created for active, fashion-conscious women who don’t want to compromise on performance or style.

Bold, sustainable and comfortable, Australia brand Jogha aspires to give women the power to reach their potential by providing them with support, style and ease of movement. Viewing the environment as a serious issue, the team at Jogha believe that anyone entering the fashion industry should be aware of the ecological footprint they are leaving behind, which is reflected in the brand.

Jogha clothing is made from 100% organic cotton and produced by the Yeh Group, an innovative and sustainable manufacturer that ensures good working conditions for its employees.

With consumer awareness surrounding the ethics and sustainability of products on the rise, the transparency of brands like Jogha can help to carve a niche and stand out. However, it does come with a higher price tag for consumers – one that many are reluctant to pay.  

Outdoor Voices

Approaching fitness with lightheartedness, humour and charm rather than defining it by performance.

Based in the US, the promotion of ‘casual activity’ is at the heart of everything Outdoor Voices does. The team field-test all of the garments, making sure the gear is fit for running, hopping, skipping or jumping and the designs don’t compromise on comfort or style.

With faultless attention to detail and a commitment to using trusted partnerships, Outdoor Voices produce beautifully made sportswear that’s built to last as long as possible, which is why investors have already poured a total of $9.5 million into the startup.

Using the newly acquired funds to grow the business, founder Tyler Haney, has plans to build the company’s physical presence as well as expand the product line.

Physiclo

Sleek workout gear with built-in resistance to challenge the body and increase productivity.

The brainchild of a group of medical students looking for a way to push people to reach the ‘minimum baseline of healthy exercise’, Physiclo clothing uses resistance panels to target specific muscle groups.

Made from materials that help to ventilate the body and keep moisture at bay, the athletic garments can help burn up to 14% more calories each time you exercise, encouraging customers to get fit faster.

Having already won first place in the Technology Venture category of NYU Stern’s 2014 Entrepreneurs Challenge, as well as raising $152,000 on global crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, Physiclo is well placed to capitalise on the emerging relationship between activewear and technology.

Cory Vines

Performance-enhancing essentials with a focus on comfort boosting technologies.

Made from eco-friendly, recycled fibres, the extra soft, cooling materials used to produce the classic pieces at Cory Vines help to block UV rays and stabilise body temperature.

Tailored to suit different lifestyles and types of workout, versatility is key for this Canada-based e-commerce startup, who are catering to consumers who want designs that are are simple, minimalistic and affordable.

Already enjoying success, with an increase of 400% in legging sales and the launch of a pop-up store in Montreal, founder Daniel Lieberman (a fourth-generation apparel entrepreneur) plans to produce a line of ‘after workout items’ consumers can slip on after exercising.

Aiming to disrupt a marketplace full of high-priced mega-brands such as Lululemon, Cory Vines has the potential to drive an emerging market segment, where high-quality and affordable prices collide.

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