Why Gap Is Doubling Down On Activewear (Even For Kids)

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.
Ah, activewear: It's everywhere. It's infiltrated our non-active endeavors, and it's easy (and hilarious) to spoof. So, why shouldn't that insatiatiable appetite for spandex start young? Gap thinks it should: On an earnings call yesterday, Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck underscored the emphasis on athleisure across all of its brands, which will include the launch of an Athleta Girl line for 6- to 14-year-old girls, according to BuzzFeed. Workout wear has been selling well at a number of Gap Inc.-owned brands, namely Old Navy, Gap (which has its own performance line, GapFit), as well as the company's activewear-only brand, Athleta, Peck said on the on call. But how seriously is Gap focusing its activewear efforts? Let's just say the rising popularity (and ubiquity) of workout clothing is on par with when skinny jeans took the place of your faithful bootcuts in the mid-aughts.

“We are present and accounted for in the mainstream of what [is] probably the most important ready-to-wear trend that we’ve seen since skinny denim maybe came on the scene," Peck said on the call. Swift sales on leggings and sports bras were a considerable bright spot for the company in 2015. Gap experienced a 33% drop in fourth-quarter profits, parent company Gap Inc.'s gross profit declined, and sales fell from $16.4 billion in 2014 to $15.8 billion in 2015 (due, in part, to tough exchange rates). More on that workout garb for the elementary and middle school set: Athleta Girl will drop in select Athleta stores and online this summer, and will include some pint-sized versions of designs from Athleta's main collection. While the gear will be aimed toward specific sports, like swim, soccer, running, and basketball (and patterned leggings and the ilk have always found a place in girls' wardrobes), it's still a sign of the times that kids can get in on the athleisure craze while they're still in the single digits.

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