During the trying times of lockdown life, many of us has embraced home workouts and have indulged in spot of online shopping to purchase Instagramable sports and loungewear.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the athleisure trend that has swept the store racks and runways. While it has become a nearly ubiquitous term, the concept of wearing activewear outside the gym wasn’t always as accepted. Think back to the days when sporting leggings as trousers was frowned upon, and when tracksuits were a retro relic. Of course, it’s safe to say we’ve all moved past that.
The birth of “athleisure”
First introduced as an actual term in 2007, “athleisure” came way after now-big names like Lululemon and the athleisure veteran Prada Linea Rossa even entered the market. It also emerged at a time when more people started getting into fitness and would wear the same clothes for dinner, going on errands or coffee, and much more. This sudden popularity drove sports brands to up their game and make clothes suitable for both gym and everyday activities. With it also came the innovation of materials like Lycra, spandex, nylon, and other synthetic fibre materials.
At its core, athleisure is just the combination of athletic and leisure wear. But while the designs are usually simple and straight to the point, it’s not hard to see why people love it. When you can wear an Adidas shirt straight from the tennis court to a bar because it’s stylish enough, it truly elevates convenience. With designers like Haizhen Wang breaking the fashion mould by going avant-garde, athleisure exists at the opposite end of the spectrum by transforming everyday pieces into outfits that are both comfortable and chic. Truly, this versatility is what makes people confident when it comes to shelling out hundreds of pounds on a pair of spandex shorts.
“Athleisure” as a trend
At present, Fast Company states that the wellness industry is worth a whopping $4.2 trillion (roughly £3.4 billion), with a sizeable portion of it credited to fitness and all its related markets. Athleisure has been growing at an extremely rapid speed, and can now be regarded as a fashion industry movement in itself. In fact, athleisure has expanded to include other clothes like hoodies, skirts, windbreakers, and much more.
Not just a fashion fad
Fashion trends usually come and go, but this one is proving to be an exception. Because as fitness and wellness are fast becoming a way of life, so is athleisure.
Right now, it seems the industry is focusing itself on innovation — not in the likes of high-tech fabrics and even trendier designs, but a revolution in terms of inclusivity and diversity. Indeed, brands such as Girlfriend Collective are leading the change, offering extended sizing up to 6XL. This is something that was completely unheard of, not just in athleisure, but fashion in general. On top of this, they are consistent with how they promote inclusivity, making sure to hire diverse sets of models.
The rise of functional wear also presents an opportunity for athleisure to improve overall athletic performance by working with innovative sports wearables. NURVV have created padded insoles to track metrics such as foot strike and pronation and help prevent injury. These soles were made to fit within a range of trainers, providing customers with the ability to customise their look. With athleisure redefining sportswear as something akin to a daily uniform, sports wearables are now innovating to help complement various styles. Gone are the days of clunky wearables and overly-specialised items. The link between athleisure and wearables proves that, truly, you can look good while sweating hard.
In line with such innovation, sustainability is another overarching theme in the athleisure industry. A report on Luxe Digital reveals that brands have been setting themselves apart by appealing to the growing number of conscious shoppers. True enough, most consumers today from the millennial generation are more sensitive towards ethical brands.
With all these advancements underway, coupled with consumers and their constantly on-the-go lifestyles, the athleisure trend has nowhere to go but up.