Athleisure – More Than a ‘Mere’ Trend!
Athleisure – More Than a ‘Mere’ Trend!
The desire for a healthy lifestyle has penetrated almost every aspect of human activity from food to daily routines. Matching up to the quest for a more active and athletic life, clothing too has taken an active twist. Somewhere between sportswear, for people who are into sports and those who want to wear comfortable clothes apt for exercise and daywear, lies what is now commonly known as aehleisure.
The trend has become so widespread that the next update of the Merriam-Webster dictionary is set to define the word officially, setting new dimensions to fitness.
According to the proposed definition… Athleisure refers to casual clothing – like yoga pants, sweat pants, and hoodies – that are designed to be worn both for exercising and doing (almost) everything else.
Athleisure’s earliest hints can be traced back to the early set of the Millennium when designer Neil Barrett took the then not-so-common plunge into collaborating with sportswear giant Puma by introducing a high-end fashion leisure line boasting of both technical and functional elements which actually put the vision of an adaptable clothing segment that fit well for home-commute-work-meetings-drinks all combined into one way back in 2003.
This was also the year when Yohji Yamamoto x Adidas came up with the Y-3 Label, which has since then been showcased at Paris Fashion Week each season, followed by Stella McCartney launching their own range for Adidas in 2004. We can all also recall Juicy Couture embellished track suits that took the retail world with storm and were not a rare sight to spot on any given day at any given public space.
The trend has gained momentum with major retail and design houses taking it seriously, as consumers captivate the concept beyond the realms of a fad. Surveys taken across the US highlight a major lifestyle inclination towards participation in group fitness activities and exercise classes, especially among young adults. Major cultural shifts in the workplace fuelled by start-ups and other emerging companies have started underlining the need for everyday comfort by making it more acceptable to wear sneakers and even sweatpants, to the workplace.
The trend in itself is indicative of a cultural and lifestyle rise in terms of comfort-based and lounge dressing, with pieces like track pants, hoodies and sneakers becoming more popular and acceptable to be worn out socially – not being limited solely to indoor or fitness wear.
Athleisure is now an attitude that pushes people to test their limits and make better decisions about how to spend time and money. Choosing a fresh juice over a cocktail, yoga class or gym over the Happy Hour, following the early to bed early to rise, philosophy, merging running, fitness and sports activities in their hyper-based lifestyles are taking the young adults, especially women by storm.
According to marketers, cities like New York and Los Angeles have started observing a trend where booze-free morning rave parties just before work are gaining popularity; spinning classes are replacing bars as after-work hangouts; and younger shoppers are increasingly attaching themselves to the idea of a fit and healthy lifestyle – stats of which are also widely visible on social media platforms such as Instagram, where you would see broadcasts of cold-pressed juices and yoga classes instead of the past trend of a flashy new branded handbag or a exorbitantly priced dress.
It is now totally acceptable and de rigueur to wear an active wear outfit – sans leggings or yoga pants all day, every day – even if you haven’t worked out which can be backed up with the amount of interest generated at the introduction of ‘Net-a-Sporter’, a new channel from Net-a-Porter dedicated to “sportswear that is as chic as everything else in your closet”.
An insanely huge number of companies have since announced getting into this segment describing it as “après sport” or “gym-to-the-office”, further clearing any doubts market players might have for athleisure becoming bigger than a trend or passing off as a fad.
It represents a bigger and likely permanent change in fashion which can be arguably supported by the appearances it made on this years’ international runways – a la Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma, NikeLab x Sacai, Alexander Wang x H&M, Chanel’s famous couture sneakers, and rapper Kanye West’s athleisure brand Yeezy, which creates sell-out athleisure ranges with high-end price tags. The domestic market also isn’t alienated when it comes to the mega trend-cum-lifestyle shift with designers like Sanchita showcasing collection at the recently hosted AIFW ’16.
Even US based womenswear giant, Victoria’s Secret has announced to stop selling its dainty, much-famed swimwear after this year, and fill the lacuna with its new active-wear line.
Rihanna and Beyoncé are undoubtedly two of the key influencers actively pushing athleisure among a global audience. Beyoncé has teamed up with market giant Topshop for an athleisure label called ‘Ivy Park’.
The trend has also gained popularity and wider relatability after being spotted as ‘streetstyle’ on influencers like Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner.
The reasons are many, but the most obvious ones stem from the need for comfort and society as a whole embracing a healthier lifestyle – both of which demand increased functionality from their wardrobes.
Merging three different arenas of sport, urban and fashion cultures in a way that is stronger than each of its individual parts, athleisure is more than a trend: it is a lifestyle and attitude that one embodies.