Dressing down: The rise of athleisure

Ivy Park gym hoodie
Ivy Park gym hoodie

This year is the year of athleisure – a trend that takes sportswear from being something only worn in the gym to a fashion trend that can be worn anywhere. According to Morgan Stanley the market has grown by 42% in the last seven years and is worth £194bn globally, but what’s the appeal?

It is estimated that the athleisure market could grow by another 30% by 2020. In this day and age women and men no longer have to fear being frowned upon when leaving the house in a tracksuit and trainers. Catwalks and fashion brands around the world have dragged sportswear into the 21st century with the rise of athleisure.

Despite these fashion pieces never seeing the inside of a gym, many of these garments feature the same high tech fabrics and details used in sportswear to enhance performance and movement.

High street brands

Take Beyonce’s latest athleisure range created in partnership with high street retailer Top Shop. Ivy Park, as the collection is called, comprises of 200 pieces that have been designed to be worn during all aspects of life, not just at the gym. The range offers three styles of legging that are designed to be sweat-wicking and no-pilling. The collection also includes tank tops with built-in sports bras, mesh-detailed sporty tops, open-back sweatshirts, athletic-striped bodysuits, joggers and plenty of logo-heavy sweatshirts, tanks and crop tops. The line also offers outwear with technical details such as bonded holes to thread through earphones.

Online retailer Fabletics is another example of a brand monopolising on this trend. Co-founded by actress Kate Hudson this brand has worked hard to make sportswear fashionable. Fabletics’ signature fabrics provide four-way stretch for complete mobility and moisture-releasing technology to help keep the wearer dry. At the core of Fabletics’ activewear line are two cutting-edge fabrics; FabFlex Fabric and FabForm Fabric. FabFlex acts as a second skin to highlight the body’s natural contours while offering comfort and flexibility, while FabForm has the strength to attractively hug and sculpt the body.

Kate said: “The most challenging aspect of the process of designing activewear is taking every body type into consideration. The whole Fabletics team shares this great sense of pride and accomplishment in the fact that we can create pieces and outfits that women of all shapes and sizes can feel great wearing.”

Each piece has been designed to flatter the female form while offering maximum comfort, with flat-lock seams to prevent chafing, waistbands that sit high for confidence while stretching, and longer tops for a streamlined silhouette.

Even popular high street name H&M is jumping on the athleisure bandwagon. The brand has recently recruited reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, formally known as Olympic gold-medal winning decathlete Bruce Jenner, as the face of its athleisure fashion campaign. A spokesman for H&M Sport said Caitlyn had been chosen because they wanted to illustrate that everything is possible in sport and in life.

Printwear brands

Many brands in the printwear sector are emulating this trend as we speak. Take Tombo for example. The brand’s latest collection for 2016 comes with the tagline ‘Join the Evolution’. The range has been designed to allow athletes to perform at their greatest, while being functional and fashionable. The collection features 11 new styles, including T shirts, hooded tops, shorts and trousers. For example the women’s Running Leggings are made from 88% polyester and 12% spandex and feature mesh panels to enhance performance and allow the legs to breath.

Caitlyn Jenner fronts H&M Sport’s athleisure campaign
Caitlyn Jenner fronts H&M Sport’s athleisure campaign

Just Cool by AWDis is another printwear brand aiming to make sportswear both functional and fashionable. The brand’s tagline is ‘Look Cool, Feel Cool, Stay Cool’ and this is seen throughout its collection. The majority of products in the range are made from the brand’s very own Neoteric, SuperCool and CoolFit fabrics.

Neoteric is a lightweight textured polyester fabric with inherent wickability and quick drying properties. SuperCool is a polyester pique fabric with superior sweat wicking properties and an antibacterial finish to keep the wearer dry and feeling fresh. CoolFit is a blended fabric that contains elastane that provides stretch for comfort and a great fit.

Just Cool launched nine new products for 2016, including sweats and jogpants, which fit in with the rising athleisure trend.

At first glance it does appear this trend is aimed at the female market, but there is no reason at all why men can’t get in on the action as it looks like the athleisure trend is here to stay.

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