Queen Bey is the latest big name to jump on the fast-growing women’s activewear market, announcing a Beyoncé Knowles/Topshop deal. The 50/50 partnership is expected to have chic workout gear on Topshop’s shelves by next fall. It’s a category that is already crowded with news, including aggressive new launches from heavyweights like Nike and Under Armour, big growth from specialty retailers like Lululemon and Gap’s Athleta, and competition from other fast-fashion retailers, including H&M and Uniqlo.
Topshop, which is owned by Arcadia Group, says the new company is to be called Parkwood TopShop Athletic Ltd., and is expected to include clothing, footwear and accessories that cover dance, fitness and sports, offering “a dynamic fusion of fashion with the highest levels of technical performance.” Last year, Topshop introduced a line in partnership with Adidas.
The news comes at a time when yoga pants-loving women are flocking to active brands, not just for workouts but casual wear as well. A spokesperson for the NPD Group, a market research company based in Port Washington, N.Y., says total activewear sales in the U.S. climbed 9% in the 12 months ending in August, to $34.6 billion. (It makes up about 16% of total clothing sales.)
And it’s not just because workout clothes are comfy. As the Beyoncé announcement shows, gymwear is getting more dressed up by the day. Nike just took the wraps off its Spring women’s line, for example, and rather than invoking the latest technology breakthroughs, it showcases Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço. It says the collection of training apparel and footwear “blends performance with a unique interpretation of style.”
Nike, which boasts 65 million women in its digital community, has seen sales in its women’s division climb 12% in the 12 months ended in May, to $4.97 billion. “With such an explosion of creativity in sport and a growing lifestyle that seamlessly integrates her run and workout with the rest of her day, Nike has never been better positioned for growth,” says Amy Montagne, VP/GM of Nike Women, in its announcement. “We’re introducing the most comprehensive and innovative women’s collection Nike has ever created.”