Back in November, well into TikTok’s biggest year ever, user Hannah Schlenker posted a video of herself wearing Aerie’s "Offline Real Me High Waisted Crossover Leggings” and dancing to a Justin Bieber song. The post went viral immediately, along with a sea of commenters asking where she procured her purple leggings. Aerie did not commission the content or Schlenker’s endorsement, but the American Eagle subsidiary is reaping the benefit.
Aerie and the "crossover" craze
Leggings have been a hot commodity during the pandemic, as people stay home, fold away their jeans and opt for comfort. But consumers’ desire for forgiving stretch fabric isn’t the main reason leggings climbed among Amazon’s top best-sellers. It’s TikTok.
In the months since the leggings went viral, Aerie has sold out of most sizes and received a total of 130,000 emails from customers asking to be placed on the product’s waitlist. It's been reported that the company is adding similar crossover styles and attempting to “fast track orders” to keep up with demand.
From November to December, Amazon went from 25 “Cross Waist Leggings” best-seller listings to 43 listings.
Aerie’s focus revolved around cozy loungewear and intimates until last year, when the company did a full push toward activewear with its new Offline collection. It clearly paid off. Several of Aerie's legging styles have collectively received more than 3 million impressions and 500,000 clicks since her November post, McCormick said.
Aerie’s Facebook ‘Talking About’ count grew from 2,510 to 12,900 mentions from October to December.
Last week, Aerie told investors it will hit $2 billion in sales by 2023. Sales have grown by double digits for 24 consecutive quarters. Its share of the US intimates market grew to 6.7% in 2020 from less than 2% in 2015, according to Euromonitor data. 60% of Aerie’s 2015 sales came from intimates in 2015, while the category only accounted for 31% of 2020 sales. Athletic apparel jumped from 5% to 20% of sales in the same five-year period.
The company plans to expand its retail footprint with hundreds of new Aerie locations opening over the next three years. In November, Aerie opened several standalone Offline stores with studio spaces for workout classes.
The search for "scrunch"
Around the same time Aerie’s crossover leggings started gaining traction on TikTok and flying off the shelves, another pair of tights sparked a cult following on the social media platform. The “scrunch butt” leggings got enough TikTok attention to warrant “where to buy them” articles from New York Post, People, InStyle, Mashable, Yahoo, and more.
Seasum, an Amazon store specializing in skin-tight crop tops and curve-enhancing yoga pants, is behind the original “High Waist Yoga Pants Tummy Control Slimming Booty Leggings Workout Running Butt Lift Tights.” Seasum entered Amazon’s best-sellers list in November with an average sales rank of 87. By New Year’s day, Seasum’s listings shot up among Amazon’s number 2 best-selling products.
Legacy leggings lag behind
Lululemon, once the head honcho of Big Leggings, has some competition. And, if our product pricing data is any indication, the athleisure brand needs to move fast to catch up. Since December, the average discount on Lululemon’s web store has increased from 9% up to 42%, the highest it’s been since we started tracking the company’s data in 2017.
Lululemon is active on TikTok. The brand account includes videos where employees answer product questions and share workout routines and relatable content, while decked out in Lulu, of course. At the time of writing, Lululemon counts 82.6K followers and zero viral leggings.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.