When it comes to fashion, it’s almost impossible to predict trends and changes in the industry; what dominates the market one year may be gone and forgotten by the next.
And while the styles of celebrities and online influencers change rapidly, one element of the clothing industry has stood out: athleisure. In fact, athleisure wear sales have grown by 61% since 2007 and are estimated to eclipse $355 billion in revenue by 2021.
In addition to creating comfortable, performance-level attire, the athleisure industry has turned its sights on celebrity marketing campaigns and social media partnerships to boost sales and visibility. With an emphasis on everyday wear and workout performance, athleisure strikes a profitable balance between trendy and functional. But do more expensive workout clothes really make a difference when it comes to burning calories and crushing your goals?
To find out, we surveyed more than 1,000 people about their activewear and how they feel regarding brand-name options. Keep reading to see how many people pay for trendy workout clothes (and why), whether it boosts their confidence, and the benefits of luxury brands according to men and women.
Brand-Name Buying Habits
There are plenty of practical reasons why what you wear to the gym matters. On a technical level, it’s important that the clothes you exercise in are capable of handling extra movement, sweat, and can help regulate your body temperature.
While 43% of people wore mostly off-brand fitness attire, another 39% wore a “moderate” amount of brand-name options, and 18% wore exclusively luxury or designer activewear. Clothes that are too thick may not be flexible enough and may trap sweat against your skin, causing irritation and body acne. The wrong clothing material can also make it difficult for your body to cool down after a workout. Of course, there are personal reasons for what you wear while working out, too.
Among the biggest reasons that people were willing to buy brand-name labels were the reliability (76%) and durability (73%) of the clothing. And while material quality (57%) and personal experience with a brand (48%) were also relevant, 67% of respondents said designer activewear helped increase their self-confidence. Only 26% of people said they made the decision to buy brand name because it made them look good or that a brand’s popularity influenced their purchasing behavior.
Clothed in Confidence
Nearly 67% of people said brand-name activewear boosted their self-confidence while working out. The same could be said for the clothing we wear every day, a phenomenon called “enclothed cognition.” Apparel can trigger mental changes that positively impact performance and confidence.
According to men, specifically the 74% who owned brand-name sneakers, a good pair of sneakers can have a huge impact on your self-confidence while working out. The 69% of women who owned brand-name sneakers also felt quality footwear impacted confidence, though name-brand shorts and pants had the biggest positive influence on their self-image. Shoes have always been a status symbol in some ways, although younger generations have helped make expensive sneakers more trendy than designer handbags in recent years.
Outside the gym, leggings have spread from the workplace to high-fashion runways; however, there is still some debate over their acceptance.The 6% of men who wore leggings felt strongly about a high-quality pair of leggings: they boost confidence at the gym. According to women, leggings also have benefits when it comes to confidence while working out, besides their well-accepted popularity as an everyday clothing item.
You might expect to pay no more than $20 for off-brand yoga pants that are suitable for lounging or occasionally wearing to the gym. However, it’s not impossible for a pair of brand-name leggings to cost over $100 – not to mention nearly as much for a sports bra or outer layers. All in all, the clothes you wear to work out could easily be some of the most expensive items in your wardrobe.
These more expensive labels could impact confidence and the quality of workouts, though.
Just 7% of people who wore off-brand activewear said their clothes made them feel confident at the gym. This was hugely different from those who wore brand-name workout clothes: 42% said their clothing positively impacted their confidence. Women (47%) who predominantly wore designer activewear were more likely to experience this self-esteem boost compared to men (36%).
Similarly, 42% of people believed they worked out harder when they incorporated brand-name activewear into their routine. 51% whose wardrobes were primarily made up of brand-name options believed it encouraged them to work out more often. Compared to 49% of women, 54% of men wearing brand-name workout clothes suggested it increased their workout frequency.
There are technical benefits to investing in high-quality fitness gear – skin care, performance, comfort, body temperature – but, as we found, these perks may peak at a much lower dollar amount than many luxury brands charge.
Compared to less than 1 in 4 people spending $30 or more on various activewear, 39% of people paying $29 or less on their workout gear experienced body acne. Anything that traps bacteria, from your sports bra to your yoga mat, can cause face or body acne, and clothes that don’t effectively wick away sweat may trap this bacteria against the skin for prolonged periods. Similarly, 38% of people spending $29 or less on their fitness attire also experienced extreme odor from their workout clothes.
And while just 18% of people spending between $30 and $69 also acknowledged extreme odor, those spending twice as much were only marginally less likely (14%) to say the same. In fact, people spending an extreme amount of money ($110 or more) on exercise clothes were more likely to experience extreme odor (22%) than those spending less money on similar clothing.
While spending top dollar ($110 or more) on activewear had the strongest impact on confidence at the gym, brand-name apparel won’t exactly inspire you to get to the gym. Eighty-one percent of people spending between $90 and $109 and 76% spending between $70 and $89 on their clothes said what they wore improved their workout, but those spending $110 or more were less likely to agree.
Finding the Proper Motivation
For many people, an ingredient for success when achieving fitness goals is motivation. At the end of a long day, during a particularly stressful workweek, the last place you might want to be is at the gym. Staying motivated can help you meet and exceed whatever objectives you’re targeting.
As we found, paying for brand-name workout clothes may be the equivalent of purchasing motivation. People who spent $86, on average, for their workout kicks averaged five to seven days a week of exercise, while those spending less than $79 worked out just one to two times. Our analysis found similar trends across various activewear. People working out just once or twice a week spent less than $34 on leggings, on average, while those exercising five to seven days a week averaged over $47 on their leggings.
Your workout clothes are more than a sense of fashion or style. In addition to making your exercise sessions as productive and successful as possible, your fitness attire can inspire you to work out more. While some brand-name activewear can cost hundreds of dollars, you don’t have to spend top dollar to get the same benefits.
At FitRated, we know how important equipment is to your sweat sessions, which is why we’re committed to making sure you have the best options on the market. From treadmills to elliptical and exercise bikes, our small group of fitness experts is dedicated to providing the most accurate, in-depth reviews for every aspect of your home gym on any budget. Whatever your goals are, FitRated is here to help you crush them. Visit us at FitRated.com to learn more.
We surveyed 1,003 people who exercised to explore the effects that brand-name fitness attire may have on self-confidence, as well as workout quality and frequency. We gathered sentiment on brand-name fitness attire as well as the maximum amount of money people would spend on articles of clothing. Participant ages ranged from 18 to 76 with an average age of 36 and a standard deviation of 11.5. We did not have a validated scale of how brand-name fitness apparel may affect self-confidence compared to off-brand, so we created one with 1 being “doesn’t at all affect my self-confidence” and 5 being “very much increases my self-confidence.”
Our survey exploration of this topic has its limitations, which include telescoping, exaggeration, and selective-memory. We did not statistically test our hypotheses.
Fair Use Statement
Feel like you need to justify your brand-name workout gear? Feel free to use our story for your cause as long as it’s for noncommercial purposes. Don’t forget to give us some credit for our project, and link back to us!