Gymshark is a British company that produces and distributes fitness apparel and equipment in a variety of categories. It is primarily known for selling clothing in the athleisure category.
The company, which is headquartered in Solihull, United Kingdom, was founded in 2012 by then-students Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan.
Gymshark made a name for itself by becoming one of the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that works together with influencers, who were primarily situated in the bodybuilding niche and promote its clothing via their own social channels. Its Gymshark Athletes influencer program is now considered one of the most sought-after in the industry.
Around 5.6 million people follow the Gymshark brand on Instagram alone. The company, which is still being led by its founder Ben Francis (Morgan departed from Gymshark in 2016), generated £400 million (around $550 million) in revenue for the fiscal year 2021.
Gymshark is set to open its first retail store in 2022. As a result, all of its sales are currently derived from its online store. Despite its lagging physical presence, 850 people are employed by the company.
The methodology with which competitors of Gymshark are ranked is based on a variety of data points. Information such as the revenue generated, products sold, number of employees, valuation, Instagram followers (one of the main sales channels for DTC brands), and anything else that’s relevant is being considered.
This analysis should not be seen as a purchase recommendation. It is merely a summary of the competition that Gymshark faces as of today.
To ensure comparability, we mostly take brands into account that offer both female and male athleisure clothing. Some of those brands, especially the larger ones, may furthermore offer other types of clothing and equipment. However, in some instances, single-category brands will also be included.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 16 competitors of Gymshark.
Headquarters: Beaverton, Oregon, United States Founder(s): Philip Hampson Knight Year Founded: 1964
Nike is the world’s undisputed leader in sportswear. Apart from its own brand, it also owns a variety of other companies such as Jordan, Converse, Starter, and Umbro.
A whopping 210 million people follow the Nike brand on Instagram. The company operates more than 1,000 retail stores across the globe and employs more than 75,000 people.
In 2021, Nike, which doesn’t disclose athleisure sales, generated $44.5 billion (up 17 percent) in annual revenue. Its brand power is, furthermore, exemplified by the close to 45 percent margin it generates on every sale.
Headquarters: Herzogenaurach, Bayern, Germany Founder(s): Adolf “Adi” Dassler Year Founded: 1948
Adidas is the next company on this list that certainly doesn’t need any introduction. Throughout the decades, it has not only been synonymous with sportswear but fashion as well.
This is probably best exemplified by its Adidas Originals brand. More recent examples include its collaboration with rapper Kanye West to create the Yeezy brand. Adidas Originals itself has more than 34 million followers on Instagram, signaling the reach that brand alone has.
For the fiscal year 2021, Adidas, which employs over 55,000 people worldwide, managed to cross € 21.2 billion in revenue – an increase of 15 percent compared to the year prior.
Headquarters: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Founder(s): Chip Wilson Year Founded: 1998
Lululemon is probably the biggest rival to Gymshark when it comes to pure-play athleisure products. Chip Wilson started the business as a design studio by day and yoga studio by night but eventually pivoted it towards clothing in late 2000.
The continuous growth culminated in the firm’s IPO in 2007, allowing it to raise $327 million in the process. Today, Lululemon is valued at an eye-popping $48 billion and generated $6.3 billion for 2021.
Lululemon was even able to expand into new categories. In June 2020, it purchased MIRROR for $500 million to offer workout programs to its customers.
Its clothes are sold across 500 global stores. Furthermore, around 25,000 people are employed by Lululemon while four million people follow its brand on Instagram.
Interesting side note: founder Chip Wilson chose the Lululemon name to make it more appealing to Japanese customers who generally had a tough time pronouncing Western names.
Headquarters: Herzogenaurach, Bayern, Germany Founder(s): Rudolf Dassler Year Founded: 1948
Puma was started by the brother of Adidas founder Adi Dassler after the two had a personal falling out (both were Nazi party members, with Rudolf widely being believed to be the more ‘passionate’ one).
Puma made a name for itself after sponsoring various football teams and becoming one of the leading brands in the sport for decades. Today, it sponsors world-class athletes such as Neymar or Lewis Hamilton and works together with stars like Selina Gomez or Dua Lipa.
In recent years, it has shifted its strategy towards athleisure clothing, releasing hundreds of different designs with a focus on fashion.
Puma, which has over 12 million Instagram followers, operates around 830 stores across the globe while employing over 15,000 people. Its current brand momentum led to a record-setting year. In 2021, Puma generated $7.7 billion in revenue (up from the $5.9 billion it made the prior year).
5. Under Armour
Headquarters: Baltimore, Maryland, United States Founder(s): Kevin Plank Year Founded: 1996
Another global sports powerhouse that has entered the athleisure space is Under Armour. Kevin Plan, its founder, was a fullback at the University of Maryland and thus began selling football-related clothing.
Growth accelerated when Under Armour outfitted the actors of Any Given Sunday and The Replacement, which were released in the late 1990s. Some of its sponsorships, such as with basketball star Stephen Curry, helped to establish it as a global brand.
Athleisure sales are becoming increasingly important for Under Armour, which traditionally derived most of its revenue from basketball, football, and golf clothing.
For the fiscal year 2021, Under Armour generated $5.7 billion in revenue. $1.1 billion of that can be attributed to apparel, which includes athleisure and other types of clothing. Under Armour, furthermore, employs more than 16,000 people, runs over 350 stores, and has 8.4 million people following its brand on Instagram.
Headquarters: Petaluma, California, United States Founder(s): Scott Kerslake Year Founded: 1998
Athleta has managed to become one of the world’s leading athleisure brands despite only selling clothing for females. The company sells all types of clothing ranging from running to yoga.
Athleta was launched at a time when most athleisure clothing was tailored for men. Brands would take men’s apparel, shrink it, and sometimes change the color – a practice commonly referred to as “shrink it and pink it.”
Its founder Scott Kerslake, who was an avid cyclist, surfer, and worked in investment banking, saw this first hand when the women he cycled with had to put up with substandard gear. After raising $700,000 in seed funding, he aggressively grew the business, which he departed from in 2004, to millions in annual sales.
Athleta was ultimately sold to retail giant Gap Inc. for $150 million in 2008. It now employs close to 3,000 people and operates 200 stores across Canada and the United States. Gap Inc. projects that Athleta will sell over $2 billion worth of clothing by the end of the fiscal year 2023.
Headquarters: El Segundo, California, United States Founder(s): Adam Goldenberg, Don Ressler, Kate Hudson Year Founded: 2013
Fabletics is the brainchild of actress Kate Hudson who was able to utilize her celebrity status to establish an athleisure brand that acts as an alternative to pricier workout clothing options like Lululemon.
While Hudson stepped back from an active role in the company in late 2021, it continues to be led by its other co-founder Adam Goldenberg. Fabletics frequently partners with other celebrities such as actors Demi Lovato, Liza Koshy, or Vanessa Hudgens.
The company, which operates more than 50 retail stores and employs over 800 people, generates around $500 million in annual revenue per year. A whopping 1.9 million people follow the brand on Instagram.
Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States Founder(s): Joseph William Foster Year Founded: 1895
Reebok is by far the oldest company on this list and, as a result, went through a lot of change over its illustrious history. Its founder began by selling spiked running shoes and, over time, Rebook expanded into all kinds of sports-related categories.
Simultaneously, it went through various ownerships throughout that time as well. Adidas purchased Rebook for $3.8 billion in 2005 but sold it to Authentic Brands Group for $2.5 billion in 2021.
Its new owner expects to grow Reebok’s revenue from $4 billion a year to over $10 billion by the mid-2020s. In recent years, the company, which employs over 4,000 people, had a resurgence that was boasted by greater sales of its athleisure clothing lines.
9. Sweaty Betty
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom Founder(s): Simon Norton, Tamara Norton Year Founded: 1998
Sweaty Betty is another activewear brand coming out of the United Kingdom. It was founded by husband-and-wife duo Simon and Tamara Norton after the latter became frustrated with the lack of activewear options available to females.
They started out with a store in London’s Notting Hill district in which they sold both their own as well as other clothes. Over the coming years, Sweaty Betty expanded by opening new stores while its founders raked up Retailer of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
The founders, after raising some private equity money in 2015, ultimately decided to sell the business in August 2021. US-based Wolverine Worldwide paid £300 million to acquire the company.
Today, Sweaty Betty operates 60 stores across the world and employs over 700 people. Revenue-wise, the company generated £126.5 million in 2020, up from the £72.9 million it made the year prior.
Headquarters: Encinitas, California, United States Founder(s): Joseph Kudla Year Founded: 2013
Vuori is another DTC highflyer that sells athleisure as well as other types of clothing inspired by the active Coastal California lifestyle.
The company lives and breathes sports. This is best exemplified by the free online classes that it offers on its Instagram every morning.
Investors also love what they’re seeing. They’ve poured a combined $445 million into Vuori, which is now set to expand into a handful of new markets and open over 100 new retail stores in the next few years.
Headquarters: Carlsbad, California, United States Founder(s): Beaver Theodosakis Year Founded: 1992
prAna started out designing clothing for outdoor enthusiasts but soon pivoted into other sports such as yoga. These days, it offers almost any type of fashion product imaginable.
Its outdoor focus, as well as continuous growth, led the company to be acquired by Columbia Sportswear for $190 million in 2014.
For the fiscal year 2021, prAna, which employs over 300 people, generated $142 million in revenue (slightly up from the $132 million it made in 2020).
12. Beyond Yoga
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California, United States Founder(s): Jodi Guber Brufsky, Michelle Wahler Year Founded: 2005
Beyond Yoga, as the name suggests, is an apparel manufacturer that specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of yoga-related clothing for both females and men.
The company, which is founder-led, was successfully sold to jeans maker Levi Strauss for $400 million in August 2021.
Levi, at the time of the acquisition, said that Beyond Yoga’s 80 employees and the brand itself will add another $100 million to its annual revenue.
Beyond Yoga currently sells the clothing through its own online store as well as by working together with other retailers and yoga studios. 370,000 people follow the brand on Instagram.
Headquarters: Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan Founder(s): Tadashi Yanai Year Founded: 1949
Uniqlo, which many know for its focus on essential clothing, started out as a textile manufacturer in WWII-riddled Japan. In May 1984, it opened its first unisex casual wear store dubbed the Uniqlo Clothing Warehouse.
Over the coming years, Uniqlo rose to become one of the world’s leading apparel manufacturers, operating more than 1,000 stores across the globe while employing around 30,000 workers.
Uniqlo generated ¥2.1329 trillion (~ $17 billion) in annual revenue for the fiscal year 2021. While Fast Retailing, its parent company, does not break down Uniqlo’s revenue by clothing segment, it can be assumed that a significant portion of it is still derived from its athleisure clothing line.
Source: Fast Retailing
14. Outdoor Voices
Headquarters: Austin, Texas, United States Founder(s): Matt McIntyre, Tyler Haney Year Founded: 2013
One rather new entrant in this list is Outdoor Voices, which sells clothing that is primarily aimed at runners. Tyler Haney founded the company after completing a business program at the Parsons School of Design in New York.
In its early days, the company sold so-called rec kits, allowing trainees to pair compression tops and matching leggings. Much like Gymshark, it grew its following via Instagram and other social media platforms.
Outdoor Voices, which has racked up half a million followers on Instagram, went through a heavy restructuring process in 2020, which led to the departure of founder and CEO Haney (as well as the closure of a few stores).
Despite those issues, the company seems to be in a healthy state. It employs over 200 people, has raised $64.4 million in funding, and continues to operate 12 retail stores across the United States.
Headquarters: London, England, United Kingdom Founder(s): Nick Robertson, Quentin Griffiths Year Founded: 2000
ASOS, short for “As Seen On Screen”, is an eCommerce website that sells over 850 brands – including its own clothing line. Being from Great Britain itself, it naturally has a strong position in the country that Gymshark calls home.
Over the past years, its own brand has been expanded in favor of other clothing on its platform. Naturally, ASOS also boasts an extensive collection of both female and male athleisure fashion.
ASOS went public back in 2008 and is currently valued at around $2 billion. The company, which employs over 3,000 people, generated £3.9 billion in the fiscal year 2021 (at a healthy profit of £193 million).
16. Public Rec
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States Founder(s): Zach Goldstein Year Founded: 2015
One fairly new entrant in the DTC game is Public Rec, which creates athleisure clothing that is also meant to be worn in more formal settings.
The company, which employs around 30 people, continues to be led by its founder Zach Goldstein. It has furthermore racked up close to 80,000 Instagram followers while operating two retail locations of its own.