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Let’s Get Physical

Make a New Year’s Resolution to get active this year – with your assortment.

If you need a chuckle, just listen to a new mom recount her first time at baby yoga. Ostensibly, the goal of the class is to promote bonding between baby and mom, but in the version I heard, my exhausted friend found herself catching up on some much-needed shut-eye. Baby yoga became baby nap time—for mommy, too.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising that infants are being introduced to the workout world before they’ve even developed their fine motor skills. After all, it seems like the average adult isn’t content these days until she’s tackled a triathlon or two. Just look at the jump in the participation rates for various extreme fitness activities: According to the non-profit organization Running USA, the number of folks who have finished a marathon has more than tripled since 1990. Similarly, the number of sanctioned triathlons in the U.S. has quadrupled in the last decade, according to a 2013 report by USA Triathlon. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the explosive growth of CrossFit, which now boasts more than 10,000 affiliate gyms across the globe.

It only makes sense that our tendency to test our physical limits would get passed along to the next generation. Case in point: the success of Lululemon’s kids’ spin-off, Ivivva, which offers athletic wear for girls ages 6 and up. While sales flounder for parent brand Lululemon, Ivivva’s same-store sales surged 37 percent in the most recent quarter. Girls can now find the company’s famous yoga pants at nearly 20 stores and 36 showrooms across the U.S. and Canada. And at $64 a pop, the pants definitely reside at the high-end side of the girls’ activewear market. But the numbers don’t lie: There are plenty of parents purchasing them for their daughters.

Undoubtedly, more tweens and teens are taking everything from Zumba to yoga today, but that’s not the only reason sportswear is seeing a surge. Anyone who has opened a fashion mag lately can tell you that even luxury designers are getting in on the craze. Last year’s runways were filled with high-fashion takes on sport sandals by everyone from Balenciaga to Marc Jacobs, not to mention an abundance of sleek track pants and sequined varsity tees. Sportswear as daily wear is here to stay (for a season or two, at least), and what better demographic for the category than kids?
After all, kids already gravitate toward comfy, stretchy clothes. Add a fashion aspect, and you’ve got a must-have item for every girls’ closet. (A zany pair of Zara Terez leggings, or a rainbow-bright Malibu Sugar camisole, come immediately to mind.) That’s exactly what United Legwear and Apparel Company CEO Isaac Ash is going for with his company’s first kids’ clothing collection for Puma. “Many of the kids’ pieces are neon bright with splashes of black, white or gray, made with performance fabrics in fashion-forward silhouettes,” he told us in this month’s Q&A on p. 28. His goal for the collection? To rival companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas.
But with Ivivva and other brands breaking into the market, it looks like the sportswear staples of yore aren’t Ash’s only competition. (Fast-fashion giant H&M recently introduced a Sport line offering items for kids, too.) But with a team he describes as “best in class,” and a history of making quality products for well-known brands, the market-savvy CEO is certainly prepared to give his competitors a run for their money.

Have you flexed your fashion muscles lately with sporty looks? Stretched your sales potential with stylish sneakers? Jogged your memory for any sleek new brands that balance comfort and design? If not, it may be time to shape up your inventory with the kind of fitness regiment that’s actually fun—one that will ring the register in 2015.

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