Kids' activewear booms with private label leading the way

Retailers' private label apparel brands are performing strongly in kids' activewear as the category grows.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture

Private label is leading the pack when it comes to kids’ activewear apparel, according to new data from analytics firm The NPD Group. 

From January through October of 2021, based on NPD Retail Tracking data, private brands accounted for just under 30% of boys’ activewear sales but dominated nearly 60% of the girls’ activewear business. Overall, the kids’ activewear has outperformed adult activewear sales by 34% this year.

“The fact that the private label category captures over half of the girls’ activewear business, similar to the women’s activewear market, illustrates that the major athletic brands continue to fail the female consumer,” said Matt Powell, sports industry advisory at NPD. “There is a massive opportunity for brands to create compelling products for females of all ages.”

Walmart partnered with Justice for back to school

Private brand apparel has been a major trend in the last, particularly in leisure and athletic gear. Dick's Sporting Goods introduced VRST, while Kohl's, JCPenney, Target, Big Lots and other retailers introduced new or expanded lines. Walmart expanded its Free Assembly line to include kids and partnered exclusively with Justice.

The new data follows The NPD Groups’ other report which noted that more consumers are visiting stores in person again, making up 64% of all retail sales in Sept. 2021, while e-commerce sales are slowing down.

Private label brands aside, Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour were the top kids’ activewear brands based on revenues, although all of them either lost market share or remained flat compared to 2020. Market share increased for brands like Champion, Jordan, Reebok, and other smaller brands.

Girls’ activewear revenue, through October 2021, was about 45% smaller than boys’ activewear, though sales grew faster for girls’ products. Within the largest activewear categories, shorts and sweatshirts were the highest growth product categories for girls, while t-shirts and sweatshirts led sales in the boys’ segment.

“The reopening of schools and restarting of sports activities gave an added boost to the kids’ activewear business this year — making products for kids the stars of activewear for the third quarter,” said Powell. “The return of more social activities will only add to the strength of the market during the holiday season this year and into 2022.”