By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
If you are chomping at the bit to get back to the gym, the track, the court, the field or wherever else you get your sweat on, you’re certainly not alone. Of course, to optimize those experiences we need to dress the part—and dress we do. According to Allied Market Research, the global activewear industry is expected to approach $547 billion by 2024. For its part, the United States activewear market, alone, is expected to grow to a staggering $69.2 billion in 2020—up considerably from $54.3 billion in 2015. This according to a Cotton Incorporated report that also underscores America’s appetite for this category of apparel. It reveals that the U.S. is, in fact, the largest activewear market in the world, accounting for more than a third (36%) of sector sales worldwide, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
With this extreme appetite for fitness apparel, American consumers have also become extraordinarily savvy and discerning about the brands they opt to align with. Far more than just a style statement, today’s breed of workout and athleisure attire must perform—actually helping the wearer elevate their game.
While there are any number of activewear brands that excel in a given area—aesthetics, comfort, durability, adaptability and performance enhancement—one brand now available in the U.S. has managed to amass all of these benefits and more into its color-forward collection: Centric Fitness Apparel. The company’s women’s options are replete with reds, greens, blues, pinks and more, while even allowing the guys to enjoy exciting colorways like burgundy and light blue … with many more options on the horizon for both genders.
So genius and sophisticated is this workout wear line, I sought to connect with its CEO and Co-Founder, Ryan Hoang, for some intel surrounding Centric’s recent U.S. debut. A former model and fitness industry figure turned global apparel entrepreneur, today Hoang is the creative force and visionary behind the Centric brand—now a multi-national retailer boasting both a brick-and-mortar and online presence. No stranger to fashion, Hoang has leveraged his expertise gleaned from marketing roles at Escada and Staff International (D-squared, Diesel) to help propel Centric onto the world stage, where it is being decidedly well-received.
And with good reason given the depth and breadth of Centric’s bold, yet approachable, activewear collection as detailed in the interview below.
MK: What is Centric and what makes it different from other fitness wear brands out there
RH: We’re a premium activewear brand that not only produces highly functional, comfortable and performance enhancing apparel, but also employs the psychology of color. Our lines offer unique pigment options that help reﬂect and inspire the moods and attitudes of the modern athlete, empowering them via self-expression.
Ultimately, Centric’s products are not only designed to avoid hindering performance, but rather to actually enhance it by optimizing freedom of movement, providing targeted support, facilitating individuality and promoting inclusivity through fitness. For us, authenticity is the name of the game.
MK: How important is what we wear during a workout?
RH: Effective activewear forms the center of our workout. When it feels and looks great on the body, it powers performance, encourages progression and inspires our minds. This is why every product we produce is carefully designed to provide the best fit and help you reach new heights—without compromising appearance. The next-gen fabric technologies we’ve developed – are not only engineered for softness, durability and flexibility, but also athletic performance of every kind.
We utilize principles of “enclothed cognition” in our designs, which is based on the systematic influence clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes—that the clothing we wear affects our psychological states, as well as our performance levels.
So, all combined, our garments are far more than stylish adornments … although they are that, too. Our original collection is designed to be a wearable catalyst for personal development: advanced, adaptable and authentic high-performance clothing created for the modern athlete. Whether you’re going to be walking, jumping, lifting or sprinting, we want you to have the right ﬁtness apparel that will give you the confidence to raise your personal bar.
Even for all of its advancements, our clothing is very friendly and sincere. On the athleisure front, everything is on trend. All garments are crafted to compliment your body so that you always look good and feel amazing. So, whether you are heading to the gym or running to the grocery store, our designs can enhance your lifestyle.
MK: The devil is often in the details as they say. How would you say that applies to Centric?
RH: Our activewear is extraordinarily intentional in every aspect of its design. In fact, it’s all about the details. As I said earlier, we design for performance, functionality, style and comfort—not just one of those facets, but all of them equally. We pay attention to the smallest details—from the ﬁber in our fabrics to the stitching in every seam. Every pocket and zipper is decisively placed to enhance your workout and fit your lifestyle.
Then there is the color-driven performance approach, whereby every color and shade is thoughtfully selected based on psychological research. Of course, we want to be fashion-forward and offer more vibrant options in the performance athletic wear space for the sake of looking great. But color isn’t simply about style and self-expression.
Beyond giving us the ability to highlight our individuality, it also has the power to simultaneously reflect and inspire our moods and attitudes. We want to help you gain the motivation and determination you need through color: Helping express your state-of-mind and reveal your personality and then leverage that morale boost to fuel your fitness fire.
MK: What spurred the idea or need for Centric’s approach to activewear?
RH: As a fitness enthusiast myself and apparel industry professional, I am always on the hunt for the best quality activewear. All too often I was unable to find high performance apparel in the color options I wanted—even in the heart of New York City. My vision for Centric was born out of this frustration and a desire to create inspiring, eye-catching, emotion-enhancing activewear for everyone—even those seeking to function at a high fitness or athletic level … a category dominated by mostly basic designs and shades.
As I mentioned, it’s been shown that color has the power to reflect and inspire our dispositions and attitudes while also giving us the ability to showcase—and celebrate—who we are. With unique, mood-boosting color-ways for men and women, Centric is single handedly proving that performance apparel doesn’t have to be boring or fit come cookie cutter mold presumed to be “cool” by marketing executives sitting around a conference table. Instead, it’s our goal to bridge the gap between quality, functionality and aesthetics in activewear.
MK: You mentioned that Centric has developed fabric technology. Can you elaborate a bit about that?
RH: Yes, activewear is only as good as the material that is used to make it. After being frustrated at finding anything “good enough” on the open market, we developed various fabric technologies to meet our unwaveringly high standards. In fact, we’ve engineered three types.
The first one is Hi-Flex—a premium quality lightweight fabric that offers a smooth finish and freedom of movement and four-way stretch. With quick-dry, sweat wicking and anti-odor technologies, this material is ideal for any type of training or just about any daily activity.
Another is called SilkTek, which is a revolutionary fabric treatment that contains silk element to increase softness. This super-lightweight performance fabric is also perfectly suited for any type of training or daily wear. It also boasts four-way stretch as well as quick-dry sweat wicking and anti-odor technologies.
Then there’s our ChromTech, which is a ground-breaking, lightweight, premium nylon blend material that can withstand all weather conditions. It’s waterproof, dustproof and both heat and wrinkle resistant. It’s one of the most advanced fabrics that has extremely durable and elastic features that can endure through time.
MK: Amid your launch into the United States, these are surely exciting times for Centric. What’s next for the brand in the near term?
RH: Given one or our core strengths and points of differentiation lies with using color to enhance the overall fitness experience, we intend to continue exploring the psychology of color and introduce additional options—also being mindful of current trends.
In addition, we plan to expand our product line with items that set us apart due to our other strengths like design innovation. So, athleisure wear like joggers, windbreaker and other jackets, and other garments that seamlessly transition from gym to street will be introduced up ahead.
Longer term, we are also prototyping designs that incorporate polyester fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. With this more sustainable capsule collection, we intend to benefit the marketplace in even more meaningful ways and generally do our part as manufacturers to mitigate the global impact of consumer waste.