The Outdoor Apparel Market Continues to Dominate
While retail continues to decline, there's one category that remains strong: outdoor apparel. According to The Street, marketing firm NPD Group Inc. found that outdoor apparel continues to dominate the apparel market, even while overall fashion apparel sales are down 4 percent in the U.S.
According to NPD Group, the $48 billion active apparel category is up 2 percent this year. And, sports outerwear grew 3.2 percent, including brands like Canada Goose, North Face and Columbia Sportswear.
"Even though both fashion retail and the outdoor sports retail [category] are posting declines in sales, outerwear apparel has been really, really strong," said Julia Day, executive director of business development for NPD.
Experts have pointed to a few reasons outerwear remains at the top. This year, outerwear companies like Patagonia and REI, really stepped up their marketing efforts and made their brand mission statements known. For example, Patagonia made a public statement to President Trump about preserving national parks, which really resonated with its shoppers. Then there was REI's Black Friday social media campaign which raked in the profits for the company.
The outdoor companies tend to be founded and managed by true outdoor enthusiasts that are able to add a layer of authenticity to the products. The young generations of shoppers identify with and trust these qualities.
In addition, outdoor apparel is benefitting from the recent intersection of fashion-forward apparel and athletic apparel. More and more, consumers are gravitating toward outfits that feature technical functions and are comfortable. Millennials, especially, want to be able to move from work to the gym seamlessly.
With that in mind, The Street pointed out the hottest companies in the outdoor apparel market: Patagonia, Fjällräven, HippyTree, Kühl and Blackyak.
For those of you working in promotional apparel, it looks like outdoor apparel is your safest bet. Continue to introduce new styles that promote an active lifestyle, and look to some of these top brands for marketing inspiration.