Prior to the pandemic, athleisure was already trending. However, when COVID hit, the world swapped suits for sportswear—even if very few sporting activities actually took place. Fast forward a year or two, and the global sports apparel market is still reaping the benefits, as is evident in the latest statistics:
- The global sportswear industry generated about $191 billion in revenue in 2022
- Revenue is set to continue rising to reach $249 billion in 2026
- By 2023, the sports apparel industry will be valued at $207 billion
- The sector will reach an estimated $400 billion in 2033 globally
- Revenue from the US sportswear industry will reach $208 billion by 2025
- Athleisure first emerged in the 1970s but lululemon made it a commercial success in the early 2000s.
- Nike is both the US and the world’s biggest sportswear brand
- The most popular sports apparel items worldwide are t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets
When taking a deep dive into these sports apparel statistics, the reasons behind the ongoing market growth are abundantly evident. With a change in global behavior, and innovations and improvements on the rise, this industry is constantly evolving.
What Classifies As Sports Apparel?
There’s a huge number of garments that fall under the category of ‘sports apparel’. From your favorite football team’s shirt to that comfy Nike sweatshirt you don after a workout, or those 4-way stretch yoga leggings you love and the Reebok sneakers that suit just about every outfit, sports apparel is part of our everyday lives.
While some define a difference between sportswear and activewear as sportswear being specifically for sports and activewear being clothes designed for transitioning from exercise wear to casualwear, the lines are severely blurred.
In today’s retail landscape, sportswear is sold as activewear or vice versa, and consumers are not too concerned about how it’s labeled. Instead, they’re looking for the brand label and the prestige that comes with wearing these garments. Athletes and sports people may feel differently, but they now only make up a portion of the growing market.
Truth be told, sportswearl is now about so much more than getting a good workout, it’s about looking good, feeling comfortable, and being fashionable.
The Biggest Sports Apparel Brands In The World
With such a huge market share, the majority of revenue still belongs to 10 companies that operate on a mostly global basis. In 2023, the top sports apparel brands are as follows:
Worldwide sales: $49.1 billion
Most sold product: shoes
Worldwide sales: $24.2 billion
Most sold product: shoes
Worldwide sales: $8.5 billion
Most sold product: shoes
Worldwide sales: $8.0 billion
Most sold product: Yoga and fitness wear
Worldwide sales: $5.8 billion
Most sold product: shoes
Next up is Jordan Brand with $5.0 billion in sales, New Balance with $4.5 billion, Reebok with $3.7 billion, and Asics with $3.3 billion. All 4 of these brands’ sales are mostly from shoes, while at 9th place, Columbia with $3.4 billion, sells the most outerwear. While shoes may be the majority top seller for these brands, their other branded clothing certainly rakes in the money too.
The average price for a t-shirt is $25 to $35, while the average price for athletic footwear is around $58. This Statista statistic is from 2017, and it has not been updated since. But it’s noted that the prices of these shoes tend to stay much the same year-on-year. However, if you’re purchasing specialized running shoes, you can expect to pay an average of $95-$120, but this can go far higher.
Sports Apparel Industry Statistics
The sports apparel industry is a highly competitive and lucrative market, and in recent years, the big industry players like Nike and Adidas are being challenged by new kids on the block such as Under Armour and lululemon. Both of these brands have created a lifestyle around them, focusing not just on sporting activities, but on being comfortable and able to move with ease at any time.
A 2021 survey makes for interesting reading as most participants cited comfort and quality as the two most important considerations when buying sportswear.
It’s no wonder then, that in 2022, the global sportswear industry generated about $191 billion in revenue. This figure is set to continue rising to reach $249 billion in 2026.
But that figure looks set to double in a year.
According to Globe Newswire, the sports apparel industry will be valued at $207 billion at 2023 year end. In a decade’s time in 2033, the sector will reach an estimated $400 billion.
The US Sports Apparel Market
Although exact figures on the current value of the sports apparel market in the US are not yet available, revenues are certainly on the upswing and are set to reach $208 billion by 2025.
Statista reports that Nike is the biggest US sportswear company, holding a market share of 27.4% in 2020. Adidas and Under Armour take second and third place with market shares of 15.9% and 5.9%, respectively. The first two brands on the list are the same globally, but Under Armour comes in 5th, so it’s got some way to go still before it topples brands like lululemon and Puma.
The rest of the world isn’t faring badly either:
Europe: The European sports apparel industry is just as robust with a value creeping close to $51 billion and rising. By 2025, this value is forecast to reach around $60 billion.
Asia: Values are slightly lower in Asia at $46 billion with growth set to reach $54 billion in 2025.
Middle East & Africa: The market was valued at $15937.44 million in 2021. It’s expected to reach $23190.43 million by 2029, at a CAGR of 4.8%.
New markets in these regions are also emerging all the time, and Japan and Canada are just some of the newcomers joining the ranks. Japan’s and Canada’s market share is set to grow by 3.8% respectively from 2022-2030. The German market is also on the rise and is predicted to increase by 4.5% for the same forecast period.
Top Sellers & Sports Apparel Demographics
Allied Market Research states the most popular sports apparel items are t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets. These items are the most popular amongst the men’s, women’s, and children’s markets.
In 2018, men were the biggest spenders and they’ve continued this trend ever since as there are a greater number of men globally who participate in sports. However, the women’s segment is growing as an increasing number of females are participating in sports and fitness activities. The women’s segment is set to grow at the highest CAGR (outpacing men and children) between 2108 and 2026.
The rise in sales of sports apparel in the last three years has been largely attributed to the pandemic. Initially, people simply purchased sportswear to stay comfortable at home while working remotely. However, there’s also been a shift in mindset and a growing number of people started to pursue a healthier lifestyle and improved exercise habits. Additionally, a more casual way of dressing in the workplace has become the norm, and many companies have ditched the more formal dress code for good. This has spurred on the growth of the industry and driven an increase in market revenue globally.
2022-2023 Sports Apparel Trends
As sports apparel is also part of the fashion industry, there are always trends that will come and go. The 70s had bright lycra and nylon leotards, the 80s high top sneakers, and the 90s football jerseys and windbreakers, but as we have become more technologically advanced, sportswear has too.
Trends that have been big between 2022 and 2023 include:
- Smart Sportswear
From sports shirts with built-in fitness trackers and heart rate and blood/oxygen monitors to shorts with GPS functionality and socks and shoes with stride sensors, smart sportswear has been making waves. Sports coaches now use data collected by sensors in shirts to assess an athlete’s performance and work out how to enhance it, and casual joggers can measure every step they take while on a gentle run.
The idea of smart sports apparel is to improve health and fitness, and it’s a market that keeps growing. It’s estimated that it will reach $23.28 billion between 2022 and 2032 as it becomes increasingly mainstream.
- Sweat Wicking Fabrics
Moisture wicking fabrics have been used in sportswear for decades, but technology has once again made it even easier to create materials that enhance performance. Polyester was always a great option for moisture wicking as it draws sweat off the skin, but brands like Nike have created Dri-FIT technology that also encompasses Dri-FIT ADV and Dri-FIT Vapor that aim to enhance athletes’ performance.
It’s this kind of innovation that helps to promote industry growth and fabrics that are water-resistant, stretch 4 ways, moisture wicking, offer air permeability, easy drying, and anti-bacterial and anti-microbial formulations make sports clothing all the more appealing, even to the non-sporty.
- Scented Sports Apparel
A major consumer gripe has long been that sportswear doesn’t smell nice after a few heavy wears. However, herbal infused fabrics and scented sportswear that also use innovative technology have changed this.
Capsport has created its own scented sportswear range that uses micro sponges in its printing. These sponges slowly release a pleasant odor over 30 days, and you can then respray them to give them a fresh scent.
Future Sports Apparel Trends
Looking at future trends from 2024 onwards, Market Watch reports that from now until 2030, we can expect the following:
- The top sporting brands will continue to be highly relevant
- Brand loyalty will be actively pursued
- Sustainability will drive technological innovation and digitization
Other future trend predictions include:
Increase in online purchases:
Consumers will probably do most of their shopping online in the future. There will always be a place for flagship stores, however, the number of brick-and-mortar sports retail stores will decline.
Enhanced in-store experiences:
Point of sale will become a point of engagement as an increasing number of consumers are after an immersive experience. As most people can now buy apparel online, they will seek and expect an experience to remember when visiting a store in the future.
Big name brands such as Nike and Adidas do this by means of indoor basketball courts, high-tech touchscreens and video experiences located in flagship stores. Think testing your Arctic jacket inside an igloo or a yoga workshop on new techniques.
Entertaining potential customers and giving them a fun experience will become a more important metric than sales. The experience is what will keep them coming back.
In the future, ad spend will be out and marketing will focus on social media and influencers to tell the brand’s stories to a younger, more tech savvy generation. Static billboards are already making way for digital alternatives, and Jumbotrons at sports games may feature 3D ads and other interactive digital content.
More and more consumers want eco-friendly sportswear. This demand will also drive further technological innovation as manufacturers strive towards smart and sustainable materials.
An additional plus factor in consumers’ eyes is the recycling and reusing aspect of sportswear manufacturers. Trainers and running shoes that can be recycled will be favored above throw-away products
AR & VR:
Athletes are using augmented and virtual reality to help recover from injuries. With the help of robotic or VR rehabilitation systems, athletes can regain their agility and strength far faster, and thus return to the competitive arena much sooner than before.
Another growing field is the use of VR glasses, as demonstrated by tennis star Alexander Zverev using the technology for neuro athletics training. This type of training tracks movements and trains the brain to respond, speeding up reaction times.
Smarter and more advanced materials are being developed all the time. They are becoming more breathable, lighter, and with higher wicking qualities. Smart fabrics and the advent of 3D printing are making customized sports clothing a reality. Scented fabric and fabric with built-in sensors for fitness tracking and other metrics are also on the rise.
Looking at these stats, facts, and trends, it’s safe to say that not only is the sports apparel industry set to grow in 2024 and beyond, but new technology is expected to play a major role in driving growth and innovation in the future.