First there was sports luxe then active wear and now wait for it….there’s Athleisure! What the hell is that I hear you scream…
Well the phrase “athleisure” was actually first introduced in 1976 on an advert for trainers however the term officially entered the dictionary in April 2015 – defined as “casual clothing to be worn for exercising and for general use”.
The trend which has been evolving for a couple of years now but only in recent times have we seen it really take the fashion industry by storm! Athleisure hit the mainstream last year and has since helped to make women’s leisurewear the fastest growing sector of UK sportswear. The sportswear industry has become serious big business and major fashion houses, corporations and even celebrities are all wanting a cut of this money-making pie! First hand example of this was when Alexander Wang, the acclaimed New York designer graced the catwalk to showcase to the fashion world her stealth collaboration with sportswear giant Adidas.
In previous times you were likely to see ladies who lunch in high-heeled stilettos, a blazer suit skirt, bugged eyed glasses and an over sized designer hand-bag. Gone are those days mate (well maybe bar the glasses). Wearing sportswear is no longer viewed as a mark of a working-class background, luxury players are seen more and more churning out expensive trainers and athleticwear.
Women have become extremely multifaceted and thus demands clothing that can do the same! In the space of 24 hours she could have a gym class, be dropping her kids to school, head out to casual business meeting in a coffee shop, followed by lunch with friends and then evening drinks with work…you get my drift, she’s busy! The brilliant thing about this new trend is that Athleisure clothing allows her to do all of these and still look fabulous.
Image Above : Kim Kardashian West with daughter North in Yeezy Boost 5 and Victoria Beckham in London with Daughter Harper, wearing Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Zebra” trainers.
“Sportswear as casual wear was popular in the Nineties and died down again, but now people are wearing it because it fits in with their busy lives,” Sam Dover at Mintel.
For me, another great thing about the trend is that it isn’t exclusive to one particular demographic of woman. It’s accessible to ALL women of all shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities – which is brilliant! The trend in many ways is liberating. A woman can be comfortable whilst feeling good about herself wearing clothing that fits and still looks sexy and fashionable. We no longer have to worry about squeezing our feet into painful beautiful shoes or tight mini dresses to feel sexy, we can pick up a pair of trainers, slick our hair up in one and still turn heads! I for one think this is really inspiring and empowering, frankly a breath of fresh air to the fashion industry.
“I’m over feeling ashamed that you might bump into someone you know when you’re running.
When I run I want to feel like if I run into someone, I’m proud of the way I look” Stella McCartney
Image above: Stella McCartney for Adidas SS13. All about “the real joy of working out”
With the market proving so valuable, it’s not surprising that a growing number of small business predominantly led by women (including myself – JASMINE COLE) are launching their own ranges of upmarket female activewear.
Image above: Jourdan Dunn’s New Athleisure Collab With Missguided – called “Lon Dunn” and it’s super
“The female activewear market has long been neglected by the sportswear industry which had previously only focused on the male consumer, However, now sales of sports clothing and footwear to women is outpacing men’s goods.” says Rachel Sharp, analyst at business intelligence specialist Key Note.
Between 2010 and 2015 the women’s activewear market grew 26.1% to £710m, against 22.6% for men’s activewear, reports Verdict. It forecasts that female activewear sales will surge 22.6% by 2020, against 19.9% for men’s.
Companies such as JD Sports have moved quickly gaining exclusive rights to sell sports brands’ collaborations with celebrities, such as Rita Ora’s Adidas range.
Image above: Beyonce’s Ivy Park collaboration with Topshop
The high street has also been hit with Topshop collaborating with Queen Bey her self Beyoncé on her Ivy Park activewear collection, while Marks & Spencer, New Look, H&M, Gap and even Sainsbury’s have all launched patterned yoga pants to take a bite of the market. Last year, Sweaty Betty sales grew from £31.4m to £36.9m. It now plans to accelerate its push into the US with imminent openings in Los Angeles and San Francisco – the mecca to celebrities and clean living.
Other players have been getting in on the act. Luxury fashion online retailer Net-a-Porter launched a separate site dedicated to athleticwear, cunningly called Net-a-Sporter. Meanwhile, upmarket department store Selfridges opened in April its “Body Studio”; a floor dedicated to athleisure.
Working out and going to the gym has flipped from something where you’d happily fling on an old T-shit and joggers to something more like a mini flash show on the treadmills. The average gym-er wears outfits that look good and feel good and can carry them from lunch to the gym and office. The rise of upmarket gym chains, such as 1Rebel, Equinox and Soul Psycle, which have cult followings, despite their expensive memberships, has also fueled demand for premium luxury sportswear.
The athleisure market has been elevated to where is it today also by the rise in the number of people buying sportswear with no intention of actually working out it. A generational shift towards less formal fashion styles has meant that there are a rising number of people wearing sportswear to the office, shops and dinners. This correlates with the sudden nineties fashion revival which has taken hold, with many dated sportswear companies are enjoying a second lease of life.
With April around the corner and new year’s resolutions in full swing, one things for sure is that there’s going to be no shortage of women are flocking to stores to buy the latest in fashionable fitness clothing.
Conclusion….it’s good bye to the baggy grey t-shirt and hello sexy sports (excuse me) Athelesuire gear! 2017 is shaping up to be another big year for athleisure industry because athleisure is the new black.
Thanks for reading