Net-A-Sporter is set to change the game of the fashion-focused online sportswear market
Taking the legwork out of sportswear shopping, luxury e-tailer Net-A-Porter will launch its sportif sidekick Net-A-Sporter on 9 July - entirely dedicated to high-style performance attire.
Servicing some 170 countries with 37 fashion-forward brands linked to eleven sporting disciplines, Net-A-Sporter no doubt plans to give early e-sport adoptors a run for their money.
'Activewear has long been a part of our offering,' explains Alison Loehnis, president of Net-A-Porter, which is based in the UK but with offices across the world. 'We know that fitness is an increasingly integral part of our customers lives across all markets.'
Thanks to the runway's recent flourish of sports-inspired ready-to-wear - from neoprene scuba dresses and silk tracksuit pants to embellished sweatshirts and couture trainers - high fashion activewear has become de rigueur for brands ranging from Kenzo to Chanel.
Since the success of the London Olympics, sportswear has increasingly stepped off the playing field and onto the pavement in Britain. It is, after all, ten years since Stella McCartney designed her first collection with Adidas - a partnership that's seen the Brit found a new lifestyle category of functional fashion - paving the way for London-based active and après labels like Monreal London and Lucas Hugh.
Not that Net-A-Sporter is first to cross the line of the e-commerce sportswear race track. Australian twins Julie and Sali Stevanja set up Stylerunner in October 2012, and have since seen exponential growth with sales increases of up 700 percent on the same period in 2013 - receiving traffic from over 150 countries since launch.
'Sali and I were living in Sydney and London respectively when we came up with the idea,' says Stevanga of the site's inception. 'We immediately realised the gap for this market was global. Even living in some of the largest cities in the world, the offering of curated sportswear for women that love fashion, just didn't exist.' Two years on and they say that there's still a huge amount of growth in their domestic market, with the US and Asia also showing strong projections for 2014.
Meanwhile, in the US, Carbon38 entered the market in January 2013, conceived by former ballet dancers Katie Warner Johnson and Caroline Gogolak, and founded on a 'work to workout to night out' mantra. Practicing what they preach, Johnson remains a celebrity personal trainer and teacher at Physique 57 in LA, while Gogolak started out at Intermix Corporate and Saint Laurent, before moving to Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
What's crystal clear is that competition is heating up in the online sportswear market. And Net-A-Sporter will no doubt change the game.