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Net-a-Porter’s sportswear expansion to hasten marriage of fashion and fitness

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Online clothing giant Net-a-Porter will tomorrow (9 July) launch a new sportswear arm for women, marking the latest sign of convergence between the fashion and fitness industries.

The Net-a-Sporter website will offer 37 activewear brands, covering eleven past-times, from tennis to surfing. Labels available include top names such as Adidas by Stella McCartney and Nike, as well as more niche offerings from the likes of MONREAL London and L’Etoile Sport, plus exclusive collaborations with fashion houses.

While sportswear brands like Sports Direct and JD Sports have this year made-profile entrances into the health club market, the wider fashion industry has also been warming to the idea of physical activity, with a number of recent collections drawing inspiration from the “sports luxe” trend.

With the money at stake, it’s easy to see why. The total value of the sport market – sport-related goods and services – in the UK in 2013 was £25.8bn, expected to reach £27bn this year, according to Sheffield Hallam University's Sports Industry Research Centre (SIRC). Among UK consumer expenditure on sport in 2012, clothing sales (excluding footwear) made up the biggest segment at £3.7bn, followed by spending on health and fitness clubs at £2.8bn, so it’s little surprise to see convergence between the two.

Net-a-Sporter buyers have said they aim to bridge the gap between fashion and function for women’s sportswear and, if done correctly, this could have wider implications for participation figures.

Even at the top level of sport – such as this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament – women have found sportswear issues pose barriers to participation, a factor frequently flagged as one of the reasons why women are less active than men.

- To read Themis Kokolakakis from SIRC’s analysis of consumer trends in sports market from the 2013 Sports Management Handbook click here.

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Online clothing giant Net-a-Porter will tomorrow (9 July) launch a new sportswear arm for women, marking the latest sign of convergence between the fashion and fitness industries.
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