11 sportswear brands you need to know

Is anybody out there who doesn’t think of Adidas, when looking at three stripes? Anyone who wouldn’t recognize the slogan “Just do it” or who wouldn’t associate a certain wild cat with sports? Honestly, I don’t think so. By Alexandra Degn

The major active wear manufacturers have most certainly done a great job over the last century, shaping and strengthening their brands by using ads, TV spots, sponsorship and famous testimonials like Michael Jordan. Today the brand value of market leader Nike is estimated with 15 billion USD, followed by Adidas (5 billion) and Reebok (1,5 billion).* The actual size and long-term competitive advantage of the big players might lead to the conclusion that the sportswear market is unattractive for newcomers. But that’s far from the truth. The continuous market growth (estimated volume for 2017: 168 billion USD, increasing by 21% to 204 billion USD in 2022**) and image problems of big companies (unethical labor conditions in far east sweatshops) are attracting even more labels to the sportswear market.

H&M, Esprit, Whistles, M&S … it’s hard to find a major fashion retailer that doesn’t have their own active wear line yet (with a focus on bio cotton and functionality of course). It actually seems like every week a new sportswear line is being launched or a new indie sports label is popping up on social media channels. All making it hard to keep track. But the trend is unstoppable. Thanks to the unbroken fitness enthusiasm and the widespread adoption of sportswear in consumers’ everyday lifes.

Girl working out in sportswear.
Top and bottom: Lululemon, Sports bra: Sweaty Betty (Model’s Own)

To cut a long story short, these are the 11 sportswear brands you should know!


„LaClassica was born from a dream of bringing together these two passions: fashion and cycling. The aim was to create a brand based on strong values and on the highest Italian quality.“*** Lara Dotta, the founder of LaClassica cycling wear, discovered her love for cycling early on in her childhood. She dedicated herself to the sport and later on even founded her own brand. All made in Italy with an ethical approach. Her minimalistic yet elegant design language and colour schemes are made to bring a nod of Italian cycling culture to you.


Celebrated for its lightweight leggings and bras in bold prints, Australia’s active wear label Lilybod has conquered fashion terrain not only down under, but also in the United States, Great Britain and the rest of Europe. Flattering cuts, breathable and yet shaping fabrics and state of the art design have turned Lilybod into a must-have for active girls.


London based LNDR company is offering a wide range of performance-wear, using highly sophisticated technologies. Antibacterial and super elastic fabrics, weatherproof outdoor wear and temperature regulating clothes are super convenient in the gym. Also when it comes to everyday activities and traveling. Plus: the garments are tested for transparency. Yay!

Lulu Lemon

Originally founded as a yoga-inspired athletics brand, lululemon athletica inc. has established a cult-like following in the United States. Today the label does not only offer functional yoga gear, but also innovative and colorful products for running, training and all other kinds of sports. Still outstanding: customer-binding activities like free in-store yoga classes.


Reducing global consumption by developing sustainable, long-lasting products, is one of the main goals driving Manduka. Originally, this slogan was only referring to the yoga mats, which founder Peter Sterios discovered out of need for his own yoga studio in California. It’s only been a year now that the brand has entered the apparel sector, but the success is even bigger than expected. Obviously the customers appreciate the sustainable approach more than ever.


Inspired by the lights and colours of the Scandinavian nature, Moonchild stands for beautiful but minimalistic women’s active wear. Founded in 2015, the Danish design reminds us of love, peace and the 1969 hippie-charm. The products are made in the European Union, making sure that all the fabrics meet oeko-tex standards. Moreover, for the printing process a zero waste water policy is applied and the use of organic materials goes without saying,


Initially founded as a small provider for hiking accessories in the U.S., Patagonia transformed into a sports gear giant. They’re selling every kind of clothes for men, women and kids, including luggage and outdoor equipment. Patagonia stands for environmental activism. The brand is donating 1% of total sales or 10% of the profit, whichever is more, to the One Percent for the Planet initiative. In 2015 they even had a mobile repair shop driving through the states, fixing old Patagonia products in order to fight throwaway society.

Outdoor Voices

Minimalist designs and super comfortable clothes are the formulas of success for the American athleisure brand. The website is all about basic leggings, track pants and sweatshirts in neutral colors and relaxed styles, intended for casual outdoor activities. Featuring recreational posts and beautiful videos on Instagram (check out: how to sand sled!), the brand has already become a favorite of millennials.


UK brand Rapha offers a huge variety of sports wear, fashion, accessories, books and even a special skin care range. The main focus, however, still lies on products for road bicycle racing. Recently Rapha has established its own international cycling club, featuring exclusive apparel (and bike rentals) for the members. The Rapha Clubhouses are retail spaces, event locations, coffee shops or simply meeting points. They are already located in several spots across Europe, Asia, America and Australia.

Sweaty Betty

You like colours, patterns and reversible clothes that help you reduce wardrobe space? While at the same time enabling a maximum choice of wearing and combining? Then this is the label you should go for. Founded as a single boutique brand nearly 20 years ago in London, Sweaty Betty has grown into a global business leader by today. The online shop is super user friendly. It’s all sorted by looks and clothing or by type of activity. Special treat: Students get 20% off!

Girl doing yoga in sportswear
Top: Sweaty Betty, Bottom: Lululemon (Model’s Own)

Tully Lou

Fashion and luxury sportswear company Tully Lou was created by Melbourne yoga instructor, writer and designer Tully Humphrey in 2013. Her goal: to motivate and empower woman to live healthier and happier lives. On the website you will find a fine range of fashionable active wear. Plus Tullys blog, team society, is addressing health, wellness and lifestyle issues. All following the motto When you look good you feel good – of course.


Do you want to add something to our selection or did we forget to mention your favourite brand? We would love to hear from you: team@elementsofsport.com

* https://www.forbes.com/pictures/mlm45jemm/the-most-valuable-company-brands/#ade332a7ecef

** https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/254455/umfrage/prognose-zur-entwicklung-des-weltweiten-marktes-fuer-sportbekleidung/

*** https://www.laclassica.com/chi-siamo


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