The global functional apparel market size was valued at USD 318.83 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 595.85 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Functional apparels are those garments that feature and perform multiple functions apart from just their aesthetics and basic protection of the wearer. Different types of functional apparel are available in the market, namely athleisure clothing, sports-functional clothing, medical-functional clothing, and others. Due to the fabric used to create such clothing or footwear, most consumers find activewear flexible and comfortable. The most popular materials for athleisure clothing are synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, because they offer the best combination of the necessary properties. Although performance sportswear has a larger value share, athleisure is predicted to experience strong value sales growth.
The rise in the health and wellness trend is one of the key influential factors driving the demand for different types of functional apparel, specifically activewear or sportswear products. Consumers worldwide have been seriously considering their fitness activities by indulging in various sports and fitness activities. Therefore, the fitness industry is highly promoted among these target segments. On the other hand, numerous fitness influencers have been promoting activewear brands that have caught target customers' attention. This has bought an athleisure cult, with activewear worn on runways, social gatherings, and gyms.
Activewear is developed to improve the performance of customers, especially fitness and sports enthusiasts. Enhanced breathability of the fabric, wicking function, bi-stretch ability, and enhanced grip are some of the major factors boosting users' performance, which make activewear superior to other substitutes. On the other hand, anti-bacterial fabrics used in activewear reduce body odor and prevent the degradation of activewear color.
Thermal insulation is another major advantage of activewear. Despite the use of lightweight and thin fabric, thermal activewear helps maintain the body temperature in unfavorable weather situations. Anti-static, quick-drying, and elasticity of fabric are some of the various advantages of activewear, which increase ease-of-care and maintenance of this clothing. Therefore, performance-boosting, easy care and maintenance, and other advantages of activewear have fueled its demand worldwide.
Expenditure on fitness and sports curriculum for children has increased owing to the growing consciousness about the benefits of involving in sports activities, such as increased concentration and problem-solving ability. The surge in the adoption of activewear by the young population as streetwear and office wear has drastically increased its demand. Conversely, the educational system has supplemented the growth of fitness and associated industries. Initiatives on fitness, health, and sports education in educational institutes have also led to increased participation and interest of the youth population in fitness and sports activities.
Furthermore, state-level, national-level, and international-level competitions conducted by various governments worldwide have promoted participation and developing interest of this population in sports activities, which in turn is anticipated to increase the usage of products related to sports and fitness. Therefore, increasing consciousness about fitness and sports among the young generation has propelled the growth of the functional apparel market.
One major factor holding the market back is the relatively high cost of the garments themselves, which is a direct result of the incorporation of cutting-edge technology to reduce fabric weight and boost garment durability. Product counterfeiting is also anticipated to restrain the global market in the years to come by lowering demand for the original brand.
Premiumization is the process of making a brand or product more appealing to buyers by emphasizing its superior quality and exclusivity. It is driven by a preference for high-quality products and the desire to demonstrate success. Customers tend to choose premium quality products owing to the rise in per capita income. In addition, functional apparels are premium products due to high pricing with value-added features and specifications. Such features attract the attention of customers who can afford premium products. This will likely increase the adoption of functional apparel among its application creating opportunities for market growth.
The global market is bifurcated into product, application, and distribution channels.
Based on the product, the global market is divided into sportswear, activewear, and protective clothing.
The sportswear segment dominates the global market and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.31% over the forecast period. Apparel that is available for athletes or produced for different kinds of sports activities is considered in this segment. Sportswear is considered the most valuable and coveted segment in the global functional apparel market. Products such as sneakers, sweatshirts, and tracksuits have gained higher traction among the target customers. Customers who adopt a healthy lifestyle or indulge in various types of health-enhancement activities are known to be the target customers in this segment.
Sportswear manufacturers have initiated effective promotional activities that help bring awareness about their product offerings among the target customers over the past few years. For instance, in 2017, Under Armour Inc., one of the key players in the segment, witnessed a surge in demand for its sportswear products in the global market, post its aggressive promotional activities carried out that year. Hence, some of the key promotional activities carried out by sportswear manufacturers have been one of the key factors that help drive the growth of the sportswear segment in terms of value sales.
Based on application, the global market is divided into the sports industry, outdoor clothing, and healthcare.
The sports industry segment owns the highest market share and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period. The sports industry incurs a higher level of demand for functional apparel. Sports functional apparels differ from casual clothing. This kind of apparel is necessary for sports personnel who indulge in various sports activities to protect their body from external environmental hazards and, at the same time, enhance their performance. As a result, sports functional clothing features a high level of breathability and moisture/vapor transfer combined with heat insulation or wind-proofing, waterproofing, and UV protection.
In addition, functional apparels help enhance sports personnel's performance. Some specialist sportswear, especially using infrared-emitting fabric, can increase blood circulation, particularly to the muscles that are being worked the hardest. This increased blood flow can decrease muscle fatigue and reduce the risk of muscle cramps. For instance, wearing compression socks while running will help hold your muscle in place to lessen the effects of friction damage, maintain blood flow, and lessen swelling. Therefore, in order to contribute to the segment's growth in value sales, some of the key features and specifications are created specifically to improve the performance of sports personnel.
Based on the distribution channel, the global market is divided into offline and online.
The offline segment dominates the global market and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.81% over the forecast period. Some key brick-and-mortar stores, such as hypermarkets/supermarkets, specialty stores, and franchisee stores, are being considered in the offline store segment. Offline stores facilitate a variety of options in apparel products, promoting both branded and private-labeled segments. Moreover, this kind of store initiates several major promotional and marketing events like customer loyalty programs, discounts, seasonal offers, and others to generate higher revenue sales. There are many advantages associated with selling functional apparel products through offline channels since the segment accounts for a comparatively higher customer base with a strong network of distribution channels.
Based on region, the global market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
North America is the most significant global functional apparel market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.1% during the forecasted period. Regarding macroeconomic factors, the U.S. is the world's largest economy in terms of GDP, with a greater degree of flexibility compared to the business in Western Europe. The ongoing trend of having a fit body and a healthy lifestyle are some of the primary factors driving the growth of the North American region. The increasing participation of baby boomers in fitness and physical activities has positively impacted the market growth. Therefore, the increasing interest of American youth in sports and the stronger participation of this population in sports and fitness activities drives the functional apparel market growth in this region.
Additionally, the market development is supplemented by a growing portion of the population who prefer a healthier lifestyle and stronger participation in sports and fitness activities. Technological design advancements have enhanced comfort and boosted performance, significantly attracting fitness and sports enthusiasts. A substantial number of youth customers follow the athleisure clothing trend, owing to the stylish attributes of activewear and advantages such as odor resistance, wrinkle resistance, and high comfort. Therefore, activewear has evolved as a general style statement and fashion trend in North America.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the apparel function market is driven by rising disposable income, changing lifestyles, and urbanization in various countries of this region. The Indian customer base has become increasingly health and fitness conscious. Moreover, the rise in disposable income and discretionary expenditure in urban India has increasingly allowed people to focus on health and wellness to avoid lifestyle diseases. In addition, the Indian Government's yoga concerned initiatives have significantly supported the market growth in the country. The increased health problems, such as obesity and diabetes, have boosted participation in fitness and sports activities in China. The rise in sports initiatives by the Chinese Government has also propelled the market growth in this region.
In LAMEA, the factors that drive market growth include better economic management, improved global economic conditions, recovery in commodity product types, and improved agriculture production. Significant developments in the overall economic conditions, modernization of lifestyle, and fitness concerns boost the market's growth in Africa. Cultural traditions associated with the female appearance in this region are unfavorable for general activewear products. To cope with this problem, various large players have introduced hijab activewear products that have gained significant traction among customers in Middle East countries. Moreover, the increasing football fan base in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile and the effect of the big sports event conducted in this region have propelled the market's growth. More importantly, sports enthusiasts are some of the main customers of activewear products, contributing to significant market growth in this region.
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