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New Apparel and Footwear Research: What is it Telling Us? Part 2 – A Focus on Categories

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March 22nd, 2014

The global apparel and footwear market grew by 5% in value terms in 2013, according to the latest estimates from Euromonitor International. Following our first piece on key geographical insights, we now take a look at in which categories consumers are feeling the urge to splurge.

Menswear – The Global Menaissance

Menswear mania continues to grip the global fashion arena. The category grew by 4.8% in 2013, marginally outperforming womenswear’s 4.5%. The trend was evident in major markets including the US, the UK and Germany. The renaissance is being fuelled by a surging interest in personal grooming and appearance, as well as the internet channel cementing its position as an important educational and transactional platform.

Menswear is set to grow by an incremental US$58 billion to 2018. From e-commerce start-ups like Bonobos looking to offer a ‘painless’ shopping experience for men to traditionally female-focused brands like Whistles expanding into the category, it is evident that high levels of industry interest will push the category’s future development.

Womenswear – The Lingerie Effect

The womenswear category was valued at US$684 billion in 2013, accounting for 48% of total global apparel sales. The category is set to expand by a further US$91.8 billion to 2018, with 58% of this increase coming from China alone. International labels Uniqlo, Gap and H&M were the most dynamic womenswear brands in China in 2013.

Proving that it is what is on the inside that counts, women’s underwear was the largest category in womenswear in 2013, valued at US$77.8 billion. It is also set to see the greatest gains over 2013-2018. While in Western markets, notably the UK and the US, the category is being driven by fashion trends and self-indulgence, in emerging markets growth is stemming from consumers opting for more premium quality products and brands. Victoria’s Secret maintained its lead in the global women’s underwear, nightwear and swimwear category in 2013, registering growth of 4.2%.

Childrenswear – The Mini-Me Phenomenon

With 6.4% growth in 2013, childrenswear has emerged as a lucrative category. Spend per child has been on the rise, fuelled by rising female disposable incomes in emerging markets, as well as later parenthood and smaller family sizes across the board.

The “mini me” phenomenon will continue to set the tone for children’s clothing and footwear design, taking its cue from adult fashion. A media-fuelled global fixation with celebrity offspring, notably the births of the British royal baby and America’s North West, also put childrenswear in the spotlight in 2013.

Footwear – the Statement Piece

While still a quarter the size of the apparel market, value growth of footwear outpaced that of apparel in 2013, registering a 6.1% yearly gain compared to apparel’s 4.8%. Shoes remain a coveted item both as a style statement as well as an investment piece due to the high frequency of wear. A number of traditionally apparel focused brands such as Zara and Forever 21 have been bolstering their footwear offerings in order to serve their customers’ needs from head to toe.

Within sports footwear, sports-inspired footwear was the most dynamic in 2013. The proliferation of sports styles in fashion trends has become a key driver of this growth, particularly in developed markets. According to the newest addition to the system, sports footwear split by demographic, the Scandinavian markets of Denmark, Sweden and Norway boasted the highest percentage of female sports footwear in 2013 (48%, 47%, and 46%, respectively).

Sportswear – the Fitness-Fashion Flirtation

Sportswear grew by 5.1% in 2013, slowing on the previous year’s 6.3%.

In the US, the world’s largest sportswear market by a sizeable margin, overall category growth was affected by the poor performance of outdoor footwear in 2013. Consumers preferred to use their sports inspired or performance shoes during outdoor pursuits, rather than forking out for dedicated gear. On the flipside, in the key emerging markets of China, Brazil and India, outdoor apparel and footwear was an engine of overall sportswear growth, as this previously niche category gains traction among the masses.

In an interesting twist of affairs, while general apparel brands are chasing the fashion-conscious male, sportswear players have become fixated with the fitness-conscious female. Women’s activewear has emerged as a highly lucrative category. The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, women are exercising more and are seeking functional yet fashionable workout gear. Secondly, comfort has infiltrated everyday dressing, meaning sportswear is no longer relegated to the gym.

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Euromonitor Research