How to design sportswear

We are currently in an ever-growing culture of activewear/athleisure style which has become a real driving force in our daily lives, whether you intend on going to the gym that day or not!   

One of the positive outcomes from the Covid pandemic was an increased amount of time we had to take care of our health and wellbeing. As the world came to a halt the hustle and bustle of day to day was silenced with the lockdown. This brought us an influx of Joe Wicks’s home workouts, Tik Tok dances, daily walking & cycling and of course, stupid amounts of banana bread were baked! The increased popularity in different fitness outputs has meant a vast influx of brands expanding their ranges to include activewear as well as a new wave of activewear brands emerging. 

So, in such an oversaturated market what can you do to help set your brand apart from others?  

Your logo and other visual elements that you use to represent your ethos is a crucial part of your branding. It is a chance for your potential consumers to be able to remember and recognise your identity. It should also show off the persona or ‘attitude’ that your brand wants to emulate. This imagery is an important part of a brand’s aim to really target the consumer. In short, the branding is a huge part of the design process as that is representative of you and this is where we initially start with. It is important to have your logo and branding sorted as well as a clear idea of your USP and target audience as this will help drive and guide you to achieving a well-designed product for your market.  

With designing a range our first point of call is developing and researching trim details which would showcase your brand identity. This ranges from custom zip pullers, branded buttons, and stretch elastic.  I often feel that custom trims are not only a way to showcase the branding to become a point of reference to onlookers but makes the garments themselves more elevated and thought about. We work with an array of suppliers across the world and as such we are very aware of the minimums needed for certain trims. We always try to utilise them throughout a range which also helps to tie the designs together in a coherent range. Furthermore, this will help later down the line in production so that minimums are reached.

Everyone at Blue Associates Sportswear are active/ sports passionate individuals who are very aware of the needs and performance aspects of functional sportswear. We understand the benefits of using certain trims for different sports/activities. For example, the need for reflective elements, easy access pocket placements, lockdown pullers and so on. Understanding these different sports and their specific requirements is essential when designing. We find a lot of gym-goers are forever seeking “squat proof” leggings. Easy to pull zippers are ideal for outdoor coats, pocket angles and great quality grippers are essential for equestrian brands. 

Once the key features are created with the branded trims, we like to look at different design elements and styling to help separate the garment from others on the market. We always suggest having a selection of garments for launch as we find this makes more of an impact upon your potential target market. When designing I constantly like to think of the range in its entirety so different pieces can be worn together or complement each other. I feel this is helpful for a brand’s end goal of being able to offer more than one product to a consumer to buy into.  

Being regularly aware of changes and trends within the industry itself by looking at the big market leaders helps us to know what to think about and draw inspiration from. We are lucky the internet and online shopping has developed in such a way it becomes easier to quickly troll through competitors and see what other brands are offering. Long gone are the days we used to walk around the shops in London or Europe looking for inspiration and compiling comp shop reports. This helps save a lot of time and money being able to keep up to date more regularly with what is available in the market at the click of a button.

I also find Instagram / social media is a big driving force for pushing faster trends forward and creating a demand. Along with having a keen eye on online shops, I have found that these avenues are also handy when designing.  

During the process, we also must think about the type of fabrics we wish to use for the designs as this will also play into how we design. This is another instance where it helps to understand the sport and its requirements when fabric selecting. Whether it be for its wicking, water-resistance or stretch qualities we must take note of this along with any specific needs or requirements requested by the client.

Understanding a brand’s aim and price points is what directs us to choose certain fabrics and qualities. Again, like with trims understanding the fabric mill’s minimums we work to ensure we use the same qualities where possible so that when it gets to the order stage the amount of fabric required is close to or within the minimums to avoid getting any extra charges. We also try and source eco-friendly and recycled fabrics however these do tend to have higher minimums. It is in this instance we find it especially important to utilising these fabrics across a range to meet the required minimums. 

After all, these interlinking stages of the design process have been completed and are happy to continue we are ready to contact the relevant factories and proceed with the making and development stages of the garments. 

Want to find out more? Please get in touch for a free quote.

Jessica Chehade

Sportswear Designer

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