Times have changed. Gone are the days where the norm is to throw on our standard Hanes t-shirt and comfiest cotton sweatpants for a workout (hello 80’s and 90’s). Instead, we’re in an era where fitness is not just a means to an end, it’s become an all-encompassing lifestyle choice. Spending $8 for a fresh-pressed juice, $20 for a single workout session at a favorite boutique studio, and $100 on a pair of workout pants (boy, did those first pair of Lululemons change my life) have become par for the course in the pursuit of the fitness lifestyle.
The term “athleisure” has been coined recently to describe the cross-over of fitness apparel into everyday street – or leisure – wear. Celebrities and fashionistas alike have been photographed around town rocking elevated athletic wear – think luxe leggings, chambray or leather sweat pants, sneakers with graphic prints, and the return of stylish backpacks and carryalls that can translate from hangout to workout. The number of fitness apparel lines emerging now is unprecedented. Boutique brands like Onzie and Beyond Yoga are competing against established athletic wear lines like Under Armor and Nike; while high-end labels like Trina Turk and Stella McCartney, and retail giants like Gap and Alternative Apparel, all have ventured into the active wear arena. The development of proprietary sweat-wicking, compression fabrics is the standard, and the array of designs available (mesh, macrame, cut-out, bandage etc.) rival the techniques used in day and evening wear. The wardrobe options in this billion dollar business seem limitless (and perhaps a tad overwhelming to the average woman).
I for one, as a self-declared fashion lover and fitness freak, am loving every moment of this movement. I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to checking out up-and-coming fitness apparel lines and mixing technical sport pieces with apres-workout layers and accessories. I’ve rejoiced at the recent fashion-forward sneaker releases which have completely redefined what a ‘tennis shoe’ is (i.e. Nike Airmax heaven) and am loving that people need to plan their outfits around their “sneaker art”. I am happy that designers are smartly making clothing for the modern, on-the-go woman who demands comfortable style, and who needs to be able to easily transform workout looks into fashionable street and work looks. I am beyond excited that fitness fashion is now mainstream – not only because it means more shopping choices – but because of the underlying implication that women are now encouraged, more than ever, to make fitness and health a priority and a chosen way of life.
Not too long ago, everyone would – and assuredly some people still do – have choice words about the leggings versus regular pants debacle (dare I say, a la Lindsay Lohan). But now as I drop off my daughter at preschool, go to my favorite, trendy brunch spot or peep celebrities on the red carpet, I’m seeing nods towards athleisure everywhere. It’s not just an acceptable new mom rite of passage. Rather, when done well, it’s become a style statement and badge that a commitment has been made : “I am going to be active today, what about you?” Perhaps our friend, Ms. Lohan, was on to something.
Photo source: Photo 1 – www.michyny.com, Photo 2 – www.nike.com