Fashion is dying, and athleisure is thriving in its place. The reason for that is simple.
Sports and athletic companies care much more about the consumer experience, according to Patrik Nilsson, the CEO of fashion brand Gant. And that’s exactly why they’re winning.
“I believe that the sporting goods industry is 10 years ahead of the lifestyle and fashion industry on many levels,” Nilsson recently told Business Insider.
Nilsson was previously Adidas’ North American head for seven years, and he says he learned a lot about how to focus on the consumer during his tenure there.
Sports companies, he says, have primarily been focused on how their apparel feels and performs. The goal for these companies has always been to help athletes perform better and feel more comfortable while performing. Once these same companies realized that people also care about how their apparel looks, athleisure became a dominant clothing trend in America.
“They’ve been growing up with trying to help athletes perform better, so they always have the consumer in the loop,” Nilsson said. “I don’t think the lifestyle brands have been doing that. They’re doing whatever the creative director thinks is the next whim.”
Nilsson is looking to change that by bringing what he learned during his time at Adidas to the smaller, Sweden-based brand he now runs: Gant. One of Gant’s new lines is called Tech Prep. They look like traditional collared shirts, but they’re made with high-tech fabric blends that are stretchy, breathable, and moisture-wicking.
“The sports brands have been winning against lifestyle brands because … they have been bringing new technologies and new solutions to old problems a lot more than lifestyle brands,” Nilsson said.