Athleisure: A Primer

Athleisure is no longer the new kid on the block in fashion terms. It’s an established and powerful trend, and clearly not likely to go anywhere. The people who predicted it would be a brief phase have been proved wrong by history: Athleisure is here to stay.

That makes it all the more important that you understand it: whether it’s to your taste or not, whether it’s informing your personal fashion choices or you’re making stock or design decisions on behalf of a business, you need to know the ins and outs of the Athleisure trend. Fortunately, that’s what we’re tackling today.

What is Athleisure?

In brief, Athleisure is a fashion movement that favours casual, comfortable clothing that you can use equally for exercise or leisure-wear.

There’s a lot of space for variety within that: some interpret athleisure to mean high-end exercise wear, infused with cutting edge materials and theory. Others give exercise-wear a fashion spin with luxury materials that make the resulting clothes less suitable for the gym and more for the home – a cashmere track pant probably won’t stand up to much hard wear if you’re working out in it, but it is supremely comfortable thing to wear on a relaxed day around the house.

Why Is It Popular?

The enduring popularity of one movement, while another falters and dies is hard to understand and even harder to predict, but with Athleisure it’s relatively easy to point to why it may have been so successful. This is a grassroots movement, with designers inspired by people’s behaviour: their preference for wearing comfortable workout clothes in casual social situations. Building a fashion label, movement on culture on how people already use their clothes is a much more reliable route to success than beating your own path and hoping people will follow.

What are the Major Brands?

There are lots of different brands offering customers Athleisure-wear. Some have captured the mass market forces of the high street, bringing fashion infused exercise wear to everyone, but some of the most interesting, luxurious pieces are coming from boutique labels, selling direct on the internet.

On the high street, you need to be aware of sports brands like Nike and Adidas, who have repositioned themselves as Athleisure to take advantage of this new trend without, essentially making significant changes to their products. There’s also Beyoncé’s brand, Ivy Park which has captured imaginations with both great design and the aura of celebrity involvement.

In the smaller, more boutique bracket, you’re going to want to look at Chinti & Parker, who hit the luxury end of the Athleisure spectrum with materials like cashmere, while Manduka focuses on ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable materials, to make sure your yoga gear isn’t distracting you from relaxation with guilty thoughts!

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October 8, 2018