Is Apparel The Next Frontier for Connected Fitness Brands?
From niche-to-mainstream, Connected Fitness is Changing The Game
Covid-19 has fast-tracked innovation as fitness has become more than a workout, it’s about an experience.
Connected fitness brands have facilitated this transformation and in the process fostered a network of fitness enthusiasts. From Tonal and Tempo to Wattbike and Hydrow, investment in the sector over the last year has been significant despite the pandemic. Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror is also a sign of things to come. The brand reported a five-fold increase in exercise frequency, as well as a “noticeable uptick” in new purchases over the last year.
Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton ask what’s next for these community centric platforms. Ingildsen states
“With a hyper engaged user-base, apparel is the next logical step for digital fitness companies looking to grow into lifestyle brands”
The Connected Fitness Boom
There’s little doubt that connected equipment and technology-enabled workouts are the future of fitness.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jean-Michel, now leading digital fitness innovations as CEO of Les Mills Media states
“Fitness, in many ways, is following entertainment,”
He explains how on-demand content providers like Netflix, Apple, HBO Max and Disney revolutionised the industry. Consumers are now accustom to movies and shows they want at their fingertips. This is what he believes is happening to the fitness market, as more and more consumers are adopting digital exercise on-demand whilst simultaneously turning connected fitness brands into industry powerhouses.
Online Fitness is here to stay but what’s next for these companies who are radically changing the world around us?
Strengthen The Community Aspect Of Socially-Driven Workouts With Apparel
In the short term, connected fitness brands should collaborate with sports brands to offer their engaged fan base co-branded kit. This bolsters the sense of community already fostered at these platforms. The drops can be used to create streetwear-level hype whilst generating cachet and buzz.
Peloton has collaborated with established players like Nike, Lululemon and Athleta, whilst behind the scenes growing the apparel team to move toward making more own-brand products.
Zwift have also recently launched a flurry of collabs. Most notably the brand collaborated with Ryzon to bring the virtual bike kit from the Ryzon X Zwift Days of Dedication to life. The collaboration further blurs the boundaries between the physical and digital world as riders can wear the digital twin in game and in IRL.
Le Col’s recent hook up with Wahoo was also highly anticipated by fans. The kit is designed utilising Wahoo data to focus on the fundamentals of indoor cycling.
Interactive and gaming technologies will revolutionise how and where we buy clothes
In digital fitness the instructors are the real rockstars. It’s easy to imagine the next development of tech enabling consumers to purchase the instructors kit during a live-stream class. Click-to-buy in workout has the potential to change how and where we buy fitness clothing. Brands can also explore demand first strategies with the help of a flexible manufacturing partner.
How to Choose the right manufacturing partner to develop own-brand apparel
As connected fitness brands expand into lifestyle brands, own-brand clothing and accompanying apparel lines will likely become an integral part of the strategy as selling merchandise is an easy way to increase average revenue per user.
Selecting the right manufacturing partner will be key for these brands who’s identity is built on the latest technology. A manufacturer who can mirror their values in the apparel space will be vital when creating a joined up vision that excites consumers. The apparel line must be an extension of the brand.
The use of next generation construction techniques such as glued, welded and taped seams are essential. As are the latest material innovations. The home is not generally as well ventilated as the gym and therefore brands should invest in fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin, encourages airflow and has quick dry properties. Strategically positioned lasercut patterns can offer enhanced ventilation for a cooling effect.
For indoor cycling or spinning products specifically the chamois’ should be lighter than their outdoor counterparts as during indoor sessions the rider doesn’t move around as much in the saddle so the chamois doesn’t need to absorb additional vibrations. Use a pad that provides comfort and anti-friction.
An experienced manufacturer that understands the nuances of the sportswear market and can make recommendations is vital to success. Tap into the supplier’s technical know-how to create the next generation of sports apparel catering to the specific needs of the consumer in the connected fitness space.
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with Bluesign and GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in nine fully-owned factories.
About Chantell Fenton
Chantell is an experienced performance sportswear designer and trend forecaster, with a passion for wellness, technology and function-first design. Chantell has an in-depth knowledge of how to spot and translate the must-have trends and macro shifts for the sports and outdoor industry. For more details visit www.chantellfenton.com