Comfort, Active, and Innovation Will Fuel Apparel’s 2021 Rebound, Reports NPD

Sweats, swimwear, sleepwear, and dresses are forecast to be growth drivers 

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., July 16, 2019 – Total U.S. apparel spending will continue to dip in 2019, but a rebound will follow in 2021, according to The Future of Apparel, a new report from The NPD Group forecasting growth and declines across key apparel categories. Sweats, swimwear, sleepwear, and dresses are forecast to be the primary sources of industry growth over the next two years.

“The future success of the apparel industry will rely on categories that act active but look fashion,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “Consumers are craving fashion but don’t want to sacrifice the comfort and convenience of activewear that they’ve grown accustomed to.”

The consumer’s desire for comfort is evident in the growth of sweats and sleepwear. Men’s and women’s sweatshirts spur growth in the active category, and the blurred lines around the definition of loungewear benefit sleepwear sales. According to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service, in the 12 months ending May 2019, total sales of sweats and active bottoms, including adults’ and kids’ products, grew 8 percent to $23.6 billion, and sleepwear sales increased 2 percent to $7.8 billion.

While recent performance has not been as strong as that of sweats and sleepwear, dresses and swimwear will look to innovation to drive future growth. Dresses have experienced a 3 percent decline to just under $15 billion, but women’s athletic dresses are expected to offset these declines over the next two years. Sales in the swimwear category declined 4 percent to $5.8 billion over the past 12 months, due in part to the late arrival of summer temperatures across the U.S.

“Sweatshirts are displacing traditional tops by winning in both comfort and style, and the continued integration of shapewear into swimsuit design will reinvigorate spending,” added Cohen, The NPD Group. “Today’s fashion is about easy style that is functional – an equation brands throughout the apparel industry can and should apply.”


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