The Rise of Athleisure: Transforming Retail Spaces with Fitness and Fashion

Introduction: A New Era of Retail Experience

In the bustling landscape of retail, a seismic shift is underway. Gone are the days of static storefronts and mundane shopping routines. Enter the era of Athleisure, a trend that isn’t going anywhere, where fitness meets fashion, and retail spaces have become vibrant hubs of activity and community.

But what is Athleisure and where did it come from?

Athletic-leisure is a new sector of fashion sitting between everyday-wear and workout clothes; it’s outfits you can wear for both. Activewear and leisurewear are designed to be worn for sporting or fitness activities whereas Athleisure is designed for activewear but also fashion-conscious so can be worn to work, out shopping, or socialising with friends. US Athleisure designers, some of whom are luxury athleisure brands include LuluLemon, Alo Yoga, Nike, Adidas, Aviator Nation, SKIMS, Free People… all have numerous fashion lines that would fit in the Athleisure category, but supermarket brands in the UK also stock many items too; it’s such a huge trend and it’s only growing in market share. Data shows, that it was expected to reach £281.2bn in 2023, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1% from 2023 to 2030. (Source) 

To say the atheisure trend only started in the late 2010s growing out of consumer’s love for comfy yoga pants; the catalyst in this consumer-drive growth is fashion’s adaptability to their business and their stores.

The Athleisure Phenomenon: From Runway to Retail

Athleisure has transcended its humble origins as workout wear to become a global fashion phenomenon. What started as a trend has now solidified its place as a staple in wardrobes worldwide. UK Atheleisure retailers like Sweaty Betty, Fraser Group, SuperDry and Gym Shark have led the charge here, seamlessly blending performance and style to create clothing that’s as at home in the gym as it is on the streets.

In-Store Fitness Services: Where Shopping Meets Sweating

One of the most notable trends in the retail landscape is the integration of fitness services within store environments. Brands like Sweaty Betty and Gym Shark have pioneered this approach, offering customers the opportunity to break a sweat while browsing their latest collections. From running clubs to in-store workout areas, these brands are transforming the shopping experience into a full-fledged lifestyle destination.

Sweaty Betty: Building Communities Through Fitness

Sweaty Betty’s “Fit Clubs” have become synonymous with community building and empowerment. By offering complimentary yoga classes, running clubs, and fitness workshops, Sweaty Betty isn’t just selling activewear; they’re fostering connections and inspiring customers to lead healthy, active lifestyles. It’s a winning formula that keeps customers coming back for more than just the clothes.

Gym Shark: The Intersection of Fitness and Fashion

Gym Shark has carved out its niche as the go-to destination for fitness enthusiasts seeking both performance and style. With sleek storefronts and Instagram-worthy setups, Gym Shark stores are more than just retail spaces—they’re destinations in their own right. Interactive displays, in-store workout areas, and exclusive events create an immersive experience that goes beyond traditional shopping. The Regent Street store has a small cafe area, as well as class rooms and we’re still waiting to find out what services they have put into their Stratford store.

Nike: Innovation at Its Finest

As one of the most iconic athletic brands in the world, Nike has long been at the forefront of innovation. You’ll know this too if you’ve watched ‘Air’ on Netflix! From cutting-edge performance wear to groundbreaking footwear technology, Nike’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible knows no bounds. In-store services like gait analysis and personalised training sessions further elevate the Nike retail experience, providing customers with unparalleled expertise and support. We’re fairly certain they were the first store to put a small football pitch inside Nike Town too!

On Running: Where Performance Meets Style

Swiss brand On Running has made waves in the athletic footwear market with its innovative designs and commitment to performance. With a focus on functionality and aesthetics, On Running shoes seamlessly transition from the track to the street, making them a favourite among athletes and fashion-forward consumers alike. In-store experiences like shoe trials and running clinics reinforce On Running’s dedication to helping customers find their perfect fit.

The Triathalon Store: Real testing for bikes, wetsuits, run-wear

Barber designed the large 9000 square foot store, that won industry awards, to be abundant with services to form the ultimate hub for triathaletes; the pool for testing wetsuits, the Bike set-up station, Repair shop, running track and community cafe are just some of the in-store services this 360 retail experience offered.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Athleisure in Retail

As Athleisure continues to gain momentum, the possibilities for innovation are endless. From augmented reality fitting rooms to virtual workout classes, the retail landscape is ripe with opportunities to merge fashion and fitness in new and exciting ways. As consumers increasingly prioritise health and wellness, brands that can offer both style and substance will undoubtedly thrive in this dynamic market.

Conclusion: Embracing the Athleisure Lifestyle

In a world where fitness and fashion are no longer mutually exclusive, Athleisure brands are leading the charge towards a more active, inclusive future. With in-store fitness services, innovative designs, and a relentless commitment to customer experience, these brands are reshaping the retail landscape one sweat session at a time. So, the next time you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, why not break a sweat while you’re at it?

Get in touch with Barber, to discover how we would elevate your brand within the retail environment.