Despite the impact of the athleisure trend on sales of jeans, latest figures show the category has continued to post absolute value growth as manufacturers continue to innovate and adapt to evolving consumer needs. Lorna Hennelly, beauty and fashion analyst and Marguerite LeRolland, beauty and fashion consultant at market research provider Euromonitor International look at how the sector is shaping up.

According to Euromonitor’s report ‘Spotlight on Jeans: Demin Bounces Back,’ jeans value sales saw a 3.4% growth from 2012-2017 while sports apparel posted a 6% growth, demonstrating consumer willingness to buy sports apparel and complement their healthy lifestyles. As consumers feel more concerned about health, sportswear is being included within daily outfit options. In an effort to compete against athleisure, jeans manufacturers are innovating and adapting to new consumer needs.

Jeans evolve and show good performance overall

Despite the impact of athleisure within jeans, the category has continued to post absolute value growth over the 2012-2017 review period. Standard jeans have recorded the highest growth due to their informal nature and wide appeal to consumers, both women and men. Consequently, jeans are perceived as staple items, resulting in a mature competitive environment. 

There is a high degree of overlap between the different price segments, because of frequent discounting and the widespread availability of premium and super premium brands online at lower prices. However, the positive performance across the different jeans categories is related to the multiple fits, shapes, colours and materials that jeans and fast fashion retailers are developing and putting into the market. 

Jeans categories: absolute value growth

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Source: Euromonitor International

A changing competitive jeans landscape reflects innovation

The competitive landscape for jeans has been evolving over 2012-2017. Levi’s maintains first position despite fast fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M gaining ground. Levi’s, with a broader consumer base, manages to define the industry and be present with continuous marketing strategies and strong innovation, pursuing more sustainable manufacturing processes, all aiming to meet new consumer values. 

Zara follows Levi’s, improving its position over the review period showing an 8% growth and adding US$784m in absolute value terms. Constantly renewed collections, affordable prices and an effective omnichannel strategy allow this company to show positive value sales growth.

Uniqlo managed to jump to seventh position by innovating and offering more versatile jeans. Its latest jeans collection combines cotton, polyester and spandex to create a stylish and very comfortable denim. However, companies such as Yoga Jeans and Hiut Denim are tapping into jeans fever by offering new values for those consumers seeking something sustainable and ethical. It is expected that these players might alter the traditional competitive landscape.

Top 10 jeans brand rankings

Source: Euromonitor International

Jeans and sportswear will converge leading to hybrid products

Jeans value sales are predicted to reach US$105bn by 2022, with a 2% growth between 2017 and 2022. Sports inspired apparel, however, despite a higher growth of 3.5%, will see a declining trend over 2017-2022

Athleisure has already had a major impact on consumers and companies’ strategies and is set to remain strong and increasingly sophisticated over 2017-2022. For steadier growth, jeans companies will fight this trend by innovating and creating more sustainable and functional denim products, leveraging product innovation to regain the favours of consumers accustomed to the comfort of sportswear. 

In this quest, jeans companies might increasingly choose to target men and launch unisex products as men’s jeans are set to outperform women’s jeans over the forecast period, partly because men’s jeans are less affected by the widespread adoption of leggings seen mostly among female consumers since the rise of athleisure. Also, some styles and designs already largely present in women’s jeans are gaining in popularity among male consumers, such as skinny jeans.

Regardless of gender, finding the perfect fit, and allowing consumers to express themselves by the shape, colour, materials and wash of their jeans, will be increasingly essential. New production processes will allow denim companies to find new elements to create new designs, colours and textures, adding some dynamism.

Click on the following link to see the full report ‘Spotlight on Jeans: Demin Bounces Back.’