Why Fitness Fashions Matter

This article investigates why fitness fashions matter and what you need to know as a consumer or a commercial business. We give real examples of how changes have impacted companies and created whole industries. There are also things to look out for, and we choose to highlight these to illustrate their importance. We also hear from Fitness Equipment supplier Mirafit.co.uk. They are one of the largest equipment manufacturers in the UK. 

Examples of fitness fashions

Fashions are trends that can come and go, while some can stay and embed themselves in society. There are some superb examples of fitness fashions in the UK, and we can see how demand has influenced them. The first examples relate to apparel, and then we look at fitness movements. 

One: Rugby Gloves: In 2003, some 20+ years ago, Rugby Union became a more professional establishment and paid their players a fair salary. In the background, a trend started for rugby gloves; it migrated from the Rugby Sevens series. The idea was that gloves would improve grip and accuracy and give players of all abilities an edge on the pitch. There were five significant brands in the market for rugby gloves at that time: Canterbury, Optimum, Nomis, Kooga, and Samurai. This market was an example of a fad that came and went, taking Nomis with it. 

Two: Baselayers: In 2004, at a similar time to rugby gloves, we saw the emergence of baselayers in UK sports. These are essentially thermals but are sold based on their compression and how they give the wearer additional muscular performance by maintaining core temperature and improving blood flow to critical muscles during their activity. Baselayers are favoured by schools and clubs nationwide. The global market value is 9.7 billion, according to KingsResearch.com. This is a trend that has established itself, has then levelled out, and continues to grow globally.

Three: Snapback Caps: In 2016, the sports apparel market saw a US-style snapback cap ingress onto the UK high streets. With it, there was a demand for these popular hats from manufacturers like New Era, which set up a UK office in Oxford to support their European office. The style has ebbed away in recent years but boomed until 2020. Caps remain a popular lifestyle-fitness accessory. It was only the focus of this one style of cap that caused demand. 

Four: Dry Robes: In 2019, robes were initially used in the swimming, athletics, and football markets, where we witnessed the introduction of Dry Robes. They have a practical application as they ensure children or adults can shelter from the elements. This is important for maintaining energy and avoiding foul UK weather. Robes remain popular; they have been adopted into core club use and mainstream dog-walker territory for their practical useability. 

Five: Oversized Sweat Tops: In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw baggy clothes surfacing as popular during these periods. Then, in LA, it began to resurface in 2016 noticeably. However, Reddit suggests that it went mainstream in 2022, and oversized clothing reached the gym scene from brands like Gym Shark, Vanquish and Blakely around this time. It remains popular at the time of writing this article.  

So why do fashions matter to consumers and businesses? 

Fashions matter to consumers as they need to be aware of what is emerging in the market if they want to stay current with fashion. As a business, you must remain focused on supplying to the demand and adapting as things change. Nomis is an example used earlier. The business tried to adjust following the decline in demand for rugby gloves; they moved to football boots but challenged an established market, resulting in the business’s dissolution. Another example is Samurai, which has moved away from its custom sportswear heritage and now into a lifestyle. The business model is shifting, and custom customers are finding new suppliers. The main reason for this is that scaling a custom sportswear business can be challenging as the knowledge required is niche, and this means finding staff to support the growth is often too complicated, strangling the business and halting growth. Demands for lifestyle clothing have increased, and Samurai is able to pivot its business to maintain profits and reduce staff overhead. 

What other trends have influenced the fitness market? 

There are a few significant examples of how fitness trends have impacted markets. Body Pump, developed in the 1990s, was a slow burn until 2018 in the UK when its popularity began to increase. By 2019, it boomed, remaining popular in global lockdowns as the kit required is relatively low-cost and straightforward, but ‘Pump sets’ remain popular. Around the same time, CrossFit came out of lockdown and spawned the individual group exercise wave, which eventually led to Hyrox. This is currently the fastest-growing fitness trend in the UK. We do not have to look far to see how these trends have impacted demand. With Hyrox, the demand for Ski Machines, Rowers and Pullup Bars has increased tenfold in the last 2-years. 

Power of Park Run

However, the best example of a fitness trend fashion or trend taking hold is Park Run, which has enormous participation globally. According to Bookdown.org, this exceeds 250,000 active runners each week. The repercussion of this popularity is that more people fall in love with running, resulting in significant increases in demand for running shoes, along with running shorts, socks and wet gear. Beyond this, an unforeseen trend has been made in runners maturing into longer races. 10k, half marathon, and then full marathon participation has increased thanks to the introduction of running resulting from Park Run. 

Why does this matter? 

As a business that manufactures for these markets, you need to see the size of the opportunity and seize market share. Mirafit is an example of a UK fitness equipment supplier that is adapting to trends and expanding its range to meet consumer needs, especially as more men are looking to get healthier

A spokesman from Mirafit said, “Selecting the right product for the fitness market can take years of refinement. We can look back at items that have come and gone, which we thought would do well and didn’t. Then, there were examples of items that flew and that we did not have enough stock of. The Hyrox trend is an example; we are supporting with training equipment and recovery equipment. It is proving to be extremely popular right now.”  

What we learned 

Trends can provide opportunities for businesses and consumers. They can also cause business to decline. We saw evidence of trends growing and embedding themselves in society and becoming permanent. As a business such as a gym, it would be important to run an agile operation as new trends emerge in the market. We also saw the need for consumers to stay in tune with the market. We saw how trends could also have wider benefits and cause the growth of established industries such as running. What this evidences is that humans will always need the excitement that they get from new products or fitness trends.