Be the best
The athleisure trend may have been around for a few years, but let’s pray it doesn’t go away — never has fashion been this comfortable or effortlessly stylish. When a simple pair of leggings and a cute hoodie will take you from your early morning yoga to brunch with friends, you know you’re on to a winner.
While the real pleasure of athleisure lies in its simplicity (read: lack of effort), celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Ariana Grande have shown that you can elevate the trend to fit glamorous occasions, simply by adding stilettos or thigh-high boots to an otherwise slouchy, comfy ensemble.
The athleisure market was reportedly worth more than £2.5 billion in the UK alone in 2017. Heavyweights like Lululemon continue to dominate the market, but there’s still plenty of room for smaller brands to make a profit. You just have to get smarter, by using the right fabrics, fit and styling to tempt young, trend-focused customers.
If you’ve never launched a fashion brand before – or if you’re a seasoned designer looking to get into the leisurewear market – we’ll help you workout (see what we did there) how to get started.
Every sneakerhead dreams of creating the next Air Jordan or Yeezy. Every athleisure designer wants to build the next Nike. While it’s certainly possible to build up to those heady heights (Lululemon started in a small yoga studio in Vancouver, and made $3.3 billion last year), it won’t happen immediately. Brands like Nike have teams dedicated to developing the most technologically-advanced sportswear in the world. They’re working with fabrics that in some cases aren’t available anywhere else on the market – fabrics that stretch, wick away sweat and keep their shape better than anything you could get your hands on right now. As a newbie, you don’t have Nike’s science nor its buying power, so do your research and find suppliers who will sell you the best quality fabrics in the small quantities you’ll need to get started.
Many athleisure brands go for a ‘less is more’ approach to design, with sleek lines and unadorned fabrics. But in broader fashion terms, the trend for big logos and 90s-style graphics is still huge, and with so printing technology now offering so many creative opportunities, why not make your designs bolder? At ICON we offer high-quality printing on a range of fabrics, from performance wear TriDry, to Bella Canvas cottons and even Regatta Activewear. We can pretty much transfer print onto anything! Check out the merch we’ve created with Psycle, BLOK, Barrecorre and Frame for inspiration.
Do your research
It could take time to find the factories, materials and accessories to make your dream line a reality. Ask advice from others in the fashion industry, get quotes, and of course, once you think you’ve found the right supplier, get plenty of samples. If you’re thinking, “help! I don’t know where to start with this!” reach out to entrepreneurs you admire through Twitter. The worst they can do is ignore you – and in all likelihood they’ll be flattered by your interest. Many budding designers imagine they should be keeping their ideas, knowledge and contacts a closely guarded secret, but the most successful entrepreneurs know that working together often brings the biggest rewards. Make sure you know your price point, what your budget is, the performance requirements, and quality level of your range. Take into account that accessories like zips and cords will cost extra. Then you can start negotiating.
Try, and try again
Athleisure is both fashion and performance wear. It needs to work for the yoga studio, the gym, or the running track as well as it does for the streets. Once you’ve got your prototypes, test them in these scenarios. Get your friends involved, and stretch, sweat, run and lunge in the clothes – how comfortable do the garments feel after a few hours of wearing? How well do they wick away sweat? And perhaps most importantly, how good do they look on you? Knowing your products inside out means you’ll be able to sell them confidently, too.
Looking for merch or t-shirt printing in London? At ICON Printing we offer fast turnaround printing and embroidery with a wide-ranging catalogue from t-shirts to caps to bags. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.