With more than 400,000 lives lost due to Covid-19 in Brazil, it would be absurd to say that the pandemic had any positive side. But an important reflection for Brazilians was the search for better health and quality of life. This movement boosted the business of the fitness world. After the restrictive measures that forced people to stay at home to try to control the contagion of the new virus, there was a wave of people looking for gyms, crossfit box, nutrition and physiotherapy offices, healthy food market and, why not, fashion sporty.
But even before this resumption, the sportswear market was on the rise, even during the lockdown, with people exercising at home and looking for comfortable pieces to wear. Even without analytical data, Bruno Bezerra, the president of the Chamber of Store Managers (CDL) of Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, in the garment industry in Agreste de Pernambuco, says that the strong search for fitness fashion was felt by the sector. “Health was very much on the agenda during the pandemic. There is no formal survey, but the number of companies producing fitness fashion and becoming professional in the segment has grown. Especially on social networks, to sell their brands”, observes Bezerra.
However, according to the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association (Abit), for 2021 a growth of 10.4% in the production of clothing in volumes is estimated, reaching 5.5 billion pieces. In terms of values, a total revenue of R$ 141.7 billion is estimated, which would represent an increase of 12.3% in nominal values (R$), in relation to 2020. In this context of growth, fitness fashion represents about 20 % of the apparel sector.
There are market analyzes that point to a more than tenfold increase in the sale of exercise equipment and, of course, this has impacted sales in the sportswear market. There was also a change in people’s routine, which made it possible for the versatile style of the pieces to be practiced on several occasions in everyday life, not just at the time of physical exercises. Last year, Honey Be, one of the largest fitness fashion e-commerces in Brazil, closed the year with a growth of 65% and revenues of R$ 80 million.
The growth was not restricted to the big brands. Through social media, local businesses gained strength in the pandemic. This was the case of Atletas com Estilo from Pernambuco, which has been in the market for seven years and has ten stores spread across Greater Recife, in addition to a factory for making the pieces. Raíssa Diniz is the name behind the brand and the face of Instagram lives and stories, a tool that has become essential for the business during the pandemic.
The businesswoman says that the company was consolidating itself in the fitness market, experiencing a good moment in sales, when the pandemic knocked the door in 2020. “In 2019 we made some mistakes, we bought a lot of fabric and other things. Then we set as a goal that 2020 would be the year of success, nothing could go wrong. We had a growth start to the year, but in March the pandemic arrived and I thought: ‘ok, now it’s chipped’”, says businesswoman Raíssa Diniz.
Caught in the scare and with her stores closed because of the restrictive measures of the plan to live with the covid-19, Raíssa ended up needing to fire employees and found herself in debt. “It was at that moment that we decided to invest even more in social networks and started to offer delivery. That’s what saved us. As we have affordable prices, with tops at R$12, for example, people started to buy a lot to exercise at home”, she recalls.
The business model boosted sales. After the reopening of the store, Atletas com Estilo continued with heated sales. In 2021, in the new lockdown in March, the company already knew how to deal with the situation better and started to invest in lives showing the promotions. “The first live had about 40 people watching, but our WhatsApp popped up. In the last one we did, there were already more than 240 customers following up”, observes Raíssa Diniz.
Such success through social networks made Atletas com Estilo almost double the established goal. The initial idea was to sell R$ 200 thousand in parts during the two weeks of the lockdown, but the billing in this period was R$ 350 thousand. Today the company already has more optimistic horizons. “Even before the pandemic, we didn’t reach that amount, so of course we’re afraid of what the pandemic will bring us”, says Raíssa, who recently opened her newest store in Cabo de Santo Agostinho. The enterprise, today, employs, even with the pandemic, 50 people.
Who also felt the increase in sales was businesswoman Rebecca Ferraz, who opened her first physical store in the second half of 2020, after the first lockdown. The FRBX Store brand specializes in clothing and equipment for crossfit practitioners. The company was born on social networks, such as Instagram, and later gained a space to call its own inside the Crossfit Seabox, in Olinda.
The decision to move from digital to a physical space was risky, but it paid off. “I was quite reluctant at first, but I had my eye on the flow of students that the box had and who would be potential customers. In the first week I didn’t sell even R$200, but then people filled the stall in search of health and quality of life. I never sold as much as I did at that moment, even with the pandemic”, recalls Rebecca.
Also a physical education student, the businesswoman confirms that the practice of exercises is experiencing a high moment, as the covid-19 pandemic has led people to seek physical and mental health. “Fitness fashion came with this momentum. People buy clothes suitable for training, but it is also common to see that they are using the pieces on a daily basis.”
Rebecca is right, fitness fashion is present not only in gyms, but also on the streets. The entrepreneur in this area has invested in bold pieces that enhance the silhouette, ample cuts and details with transparencies, but without revealing the body in a revealing way. The good news, by the way, is a market that has a lot to grow.
Currently, Brazil is the second country with the highest number of gyms in the world, behind only the United States, in addition to being the third in terms of revenue, with US$ 2 billion, according to the IHRSA Global Report 2019. The most recent figures from the World Health Organization on physical inactivity in Brazil are impressive: 47% of the population does not practice physical activity, that is, a strong market niche.