40+ Athletic apparel industry statistics 2021 [Research Review]

Posted on 02 November, 2023 by Nicholas Rizzo

Though most retail stores closed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 impact, the athletic apparel industry was not badly impacted along with the footwear industry because of online shopping and the growing interest in home workouts.

To highlight the growing athletic clothing industry, we have collected data from over a dozen sources and market reports.

Athletic apparel market

  • Because of the COVID-19 impact, the global market share for sports and fitness apparel suffered an 8.5% decline in 2020, and the revised projection of a 4.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to bring revenues to $231.9 billion by 2027
  • Before the global pandemic, the global sports apparel market size is expected to grow from $167.7 billion in 2018 to $248.1 billion in 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.1%
  • During the forecast period, the fitness clothing industry for:
    • women is projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.6%
    • men is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6%
  • Athletic apparel aims to wick sweat faster and feels light n the skin and is usually made from: 
    • Polyester
    • microfiber
    • calico
    • spandex
  • Meanwhile, the global sportswear market, which includes athletic wear and athletic footwear, brought in revenue of $239.78 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase by 10.4% annually until 2025
  • Between 2021 to 2025, the global tennis apparel industry market growth will experience an annual increase of 4%, to reach $94.7 million during the period

  • The cycling wear market in North America is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2020 to 2026

Athleisure industry

Another segment of the athletic clothing industry that has got a lot of attention in recent years is the athleisure industry or athletic wear that's also fashionable for everyday use.

  • In 2018, the global athleisure market size was worth $155.2 billion, and despite the pandemic, it hit a market value of $284.7 billion in 2020
  • The athleisure market segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% between 2021 to 2028
  • In 2020:
    • sales of athleisure wear increased by 856% during the first week of July
    • 55% of athleisure apparel were bought online
    • 41% of athleisure purchases were made by women
    • 32% of athleisure clothing were shirts
    • North America holds 33% of the global athleisure market revenue
  • Top brands that saw a surge in sales amid the pandemic include
    • Old Navy (activewear) - 55%
    • Athleta - 35%
    • Lululemon - 24%

Sports and fitness industry

The sports and fitness market segment encompasses clothing used for sports and fitness, as well as apparel inspired by sports, athleisure, and loungewear

  • The global market for sports and fitness clothing was worth $172 billion in 2020 and is expected to hit a market share of $221.3 billion by 2026, growing annually at 4.4%
  • Sports apparel is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5%, reaching $193.9 billion by the end of the forecast period
  • Meanwhile, the fitness clothing segment is projected to grow at an annual rate of 3.6% 
  • The U.S. market for sports and fitness clothing is projected to be valued at $63 billion in 2021
  • While China, the second-largest market, is expected to reach $27 billion by 2026

The cooling fabric market (breathable, moisture-wicking, ventilating textile)

  • The cooling textile market, which is used for athletic apparel, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.5% from 2020 to 2026
    • Canada is expected to see a 20.7% growth during the forecast period
    • While Mexico is projected to grow by 19.7% during the same time frame
  • The growth of the cooling fabric market is attributed to the increase in focus on
    • temperature regulating clothing
    • health awareness
    • sports, fitness, and leisure activities

Sports apparel by region

The U.S.

  • The athletics apparel market was also affected by the coronavirus as it lost $7.7 billion or about 8.8% in market value
  • However, in 2021, it is expected to make a recovery of 7.2%, reaching a forecasted value of $128.1 billion
  • Spending on athletic clothing per household lowered by $45 in 2021 
  • 77% of consumers prefer to purchase activewear from companies that are environmentally conscious and prioritise sustainability


  • In 2019, Europe's sportswear industry was valued at $17.5 billion and is projected to grow 7.2% per year, and sold 818 million pieces of trendy athletic wear
  • Europe exported fashion sportswear worth $13.3 billion which it sold to consumers in the US, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Turkey, Canada, UAE, and Ukraine
  • The biggest exporter of fashion sports apparel include:
    • Italy - $2.8 billion
    • Germany - $2.4 billion
    • France - $1.5 billion)
    • The Netherlands - $1.3 billion)
    • Spain $1.2 billion
    • Belgium - $1 million
  • As for imported sportswear, it accounted for 16% of Europe's total revenue from fashionable athletic wear
    • China, Bangladesh and Vietnam account for 35% of Europe's imported trendy sportswear
  • In the UK, the sportswear industry is expected to grow 20.9% between 2018 to 2023

Asia Pacific

  • The sportswear industry in Asia is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7% between 2019 and 2024
  • The combined revenue of athleisure and athletic footwear is expected to increase by 18.5% year, reaching a market value of $193.3 billion by 2023

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Use of content

  • If you want to know more about the athletic apparel industry, feel free to reach out to Nick Rizzo at nick@runrepeat.com. He’d be happy to answer any queries. He’s also available for interviews.
  • Data from this analysis is free to use for any online publication. We only request that you link back to this original source.




















Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo
Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.