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Comfy cups

07 : 07 : 2016 Underwear : Athleisure : Millennials

Global – The sports bra market is booming as more women opt for comfort and function over style.

  • The athleisure trend is disrupting categories within the fashion retail sector, from denim to footwear
  • Sporty silhouettes and comfortable materials are finding favour among Bleisurites
  • Sports bras are worn as a badge of honour in the age of Body Temples

Underwear is the latest category to be disrupted by the athleisure trend as more women choose to wear sports bras, even when they are not exercising.

This is down to changing consumer expectations around comfort, driven by the rise of the athleisure movement, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, which found that 41% of Millennial women have worn a sports bra in the past seven days.

Women are ditching uncomfortable, wire-framed lingerie in favour of sportier, more supportive varieties. ‘Comfort has always been a key driver for bras in the modern era of the past 50 years,’ explains Cohen.

Colourful, well-designed examples from designers such as Stella McCartney for Adidas, and products from high street brands such as Target’s popular C9 by Champion range, are helping to shed the sports bra’s unfashionable image.

According to Helena Stuart, founder of lingerie brand Only Heart, the trend has its roots in the acceptance and celebration of the natural female form. ‘So many factors including comfort, practicality, social climate and fashion trends have led customers to embrace the barely there look,’ Stuart told Fast Company.

It’s not all doom and gloom for lingerie brands. The US market posted revenues of £10.2bn ($13.2bn, €11.9bn) in 2015 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% over the next three years, according to We Connect Fashion, as more retailers add to their intimates sections.

The Big Picture

Underwear brands are shifting their focus from the male gaze to a celebration of the female form, and prioritising comfort over enhancement. Find out more in our Bare-it-all Branding microtrend.