Brand Intimacy 2018 - Apparel

The Intimacy of Athletics in the Apparel Industry

A glimpse into the “athleisure” trend and the dominance of Nike


  • This year, Nike surpassed Levi’s in the Brand Intimacy Study to be the #1 apparel brand
  • “Athleisure” (apparel designed for both exercise and everyday wear) is a growing trend


Nike is the most intimate brand in the industry

The apparel industry has seen a growing trend in “athleisure,” or athletic apparel designed for both exercise and everyday wear.1 This is reflected in the 2018 Brand Intimacy Study, with Nike surpassing Levi’s as the #1 most intimate apparel brand. Of the six brands in the top twelve that are not primarily athletic apparel brands, four (Gap, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, and J.Crew) have developed successful athletic apparel brands.

Nike vs. Adidas

Nike outperforms Adidas in nearly all Brand Intimacy metrics

Nike and Adidas, the world’s most valuable sports apparel brands,2 are separated in the study by 20 points, with Nike’s score of 48.6 easily outpacing Adidas’s 28.5 (the industry average is 26.6). Adidas lags behind Nike in every metric, except for the sharing stage of Brand Intimacy (20 percent vs. 15 percent), which describes a more significant and committed relationship between person and brand. Nike ranks #1 in the category for four archetypes: fulfillment, identity, enhancement and ritual. The two archetypes where Nike falls behind are indulgence, where Victoria’s Secret holds a lead (49 vs. 39), and nostalgia, where Levi’s holds a 16-point lead over the next brand, Puma.

Nike’s lead should not come as a surprise, as the company holds the largest market share of any sports brand,3 is three times more valuable than Adidas,4 and provides more sponsorships than the next three most intimate athletic apparel brands combined (Under Armour, lululemon, and Adidas).

Read our detailed methodology here, and review the sources cited in this article here.

To learn more about MBLM, click here.

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