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Asics jumps on 'athleisure' trend to widen customer base

Non-athletes increasingly targeted by Japanese sportswear company

Wearing workout clothes casually has become fashionable in recent years.

OSAKA -- Asics will boost its lineup of sportswear suitable for even when not working out, commonly known as "athleisure," as the Japanese company aims to attract a broader range of customers.

Especially popular in the U.S., the athleisure market is gaining traction worldwide. By embracing the trend, the sportswear maker hopes to boost its products' appeal among young consumers who do not take part in competitive sports or strenuous exercise.

By 2020, Asics aims to quadruple annual sales in the category to about 200 billion yen ($1.81 billion), compared with 2016. Athleisure clothes and accessories are expected to make up around 30% of sales in 2020, up from roughly 10% last year.

The Kobe-based company will pour around 20 billion yen a year into advertising for its athleisure products.

Further, Asics' London flagship, set to open this summer, will look more like an apparel store than a sportswear shop. Renovations in this same vein will take place gradually for the 1,000 or so stores in and outside Japan. The company hopes sales of its mainstay high-function goods get a boost from a wider customer base.

This is all part of Asics' overhaul of its brand image from one centered on sports enthusiasts to one appealing to everyday people. It will also sponsor so-called fun runs, which are noncompetitive long-distance races done for fun or charity. The company's shoe boxes and signboards, previously just in navy, will feature four different colors including pink.


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