The Next Big Thing, Padel Is On The Brink Of World Domination
Padel has gained increased popularity over recent years and is often referred to as the fastest growing sport in the world, certainly the most rapidly expanding racket sport globally
Padel is not only gaining popularity in Europe, Latin America, India and the Middle East. The UAE and Egypt now hosts several padel courts and facilities.
Significantly in 2014 padel overtook tennis to become Spain’s second biggest participation sport after football, according to the World Padel Club. Experts estimate over six million people currently play padel in Spain. Marbella is also affectionately dubbed the “Mecca of padel”.
This growth has not gone unnoticed, a sizeable number of new and not-yet launched brands are emerging to serve the padel market. LTP have been in contact with 10-15 new padel brands over recent months. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group confirms a noticeable increase in padel apparel startups stating
“Given the impressive growth of padel over recent years, we see this as a huge opportunity, Start-ups are increasingly developing products specifically for the sport with functional aspects that address the needs of the players.”
Here, Ingildsen and trend forecaster Chantell Fenton talk with Sofie Akerlund from the sports most exciting start-up, TwoTwo to discuss the growth of padel and the market opportunities the sport presents.
What is Padel?
Let’s start at the beginning, padel is an offshoot of tennis which mixes elements of tennis with aspects of squash. The rules are broadly the same as tennis. However Akerlund points out
“Tennis takes a lifetime to master, after a few hours on the padel court, anyone can play a padel match. It's simple, social and great fun”
The game is played on a 10m by 20m court enclosed by a walled edge. Like squash, the walls are used as part of the game, as the ball can be bounced off them. This creates longer rallies and makes it more difficult to win the point using power alone. The longer, faster rallies makes the game dynamic and exciting.
Padel is played mainly in a doubles format. As the game isn’t power dominated and serves are underarm, players can be of mixed ages and abilities. Making matches fun and sociable.
Brands capitalise on Padel’s Dynamic Nature
Several experts compare padel to five-aside, as it’s quick, fun and easy to play. The game brings energy and fresh life to racket sport. The new start-ups embody this passion and sense of fun. Two Two are a prime example of this. Akerlund states
“Padel is about having fun, it’s not about results. It’s when adults can become kids again. Padel’s focus is on play”
Two Two personify this aspect of the sport. The brand occupies the sweet spot between fashion, fun and function. The trend-driven colours of dusty pink and jade green set against a flash of neon, coupled with striking designs have court-to-club appeal. With clothing set to drop soon watch this space.
In contrast to traditional tennis whites, padel apparel is often brighter and more trend driven. Spanish Starvie founded in 2002, focuses on clashing colour blocks in bright hues. Volt Padel established in 2016 also exemplifies the dynamic nature of the sport with a streetwear inspired collection of premium, pared-back designs. Creating standout looks is key. IDAWEN unique padel bags are stroll-stopping.
On/Off Court Appeal is key
As the distinction between activewear and daywear is all but eroded, padelwear that works beyond the court resonates most with consumers looking to buy less but better. Many of the new players take a more minimalist approach with styles which work from day-to-night.
The Padel Social
Post-covid, community-focused sports will continue to resonate with consumers, many of whom have been forced to isolate due to stay-at- home orders. Akerlund take’s the social aspect of padel seriously stating
“We make awesome products, but also put a lot of energy into developing the social part of the sport. That is why we call ourselves a Social Athletics Company.”
As the sport is played in pairs and partners can work together to win, the sport harnesses the power of the group. Team sports bring a sense of community and a shared experience. The sport has many famous advocates including footballer, Lionel Messi, who is said to be a huge fan of padel with a court at his home in Spain.
Gaining a Foothold in Other Racket Sports
Padel presents the opportunity for brands to expand into the wider racket sports market with a unique USP. Nordicdots serves both the tennis and the padel market with on/off court styles for the conscious consumer, made using recycled or organic materials. The brand delivers smart solutions in both disciplines integrating hidden ball pockets and towel hooks for heightened functionality.
Dropshot takes a different approach serving consumers of fringe sports such as pickleball, beach tennis, hockey and the next big thing padel.
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 & 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