The De-Evolution of Style: The Rise of Athleisure
“Fashion serves a purpose. Some argue it has functional utility, meaning it helps you perform your job better or your duty at hand—be it fitness, as is the case with micro-fiber technology. Others claim fashion distinguishes us and bonds us to an idea, a movement, or a social class; or maybe it just separates us from a dark, agrarian past when we didn’t have time to worry about how we looked.” Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/20/athleisure-wear-is-here-to-stay.html
There’s this famous saying in the fashion world that “fashion is what you buy and style is what you do with it”. Personally, I believe that the line between fashion and style is no longer existent. Fashion is style, and style is fashion. They both serve the same purpose with emphasis on quality, performance and most importantly comfort. Like any product life cycle, the trend life cycle within fashion is dependent on the timing on when consumers decide that a trend is viable or fits their needs. The modern consumer is now placing the importance of functionality in clothing over style. Consumers want clothes that both look good and feel good. This combination of quality and comfort has lead to the rise of the “athleisure” (athletic+leisure, clever huh?) trend. Evolved from the streetwear culture, athleisure is a mash-up of clothing that utilizes comfort, performance, and fabrics that are cozy and even high-tech.
"Athleisure is looking like you're coming from or going to the gym, whether or not (let's assume not) you actually hit the treadmill in between. It is the look you were previously only caught dead in at the bodega or the laundromat, formalized and glammed up for brunch and cocktails and beyond." Source: http://www.esquire.com/style/mens-fashion/news/a35965/athleisure-urban-lumberjack/
Athleisure is defined as clothing that takes inspiration from performance gear and active wear, but you don’t actually workout in them. Athleisure blends the comfort of loungewear and the performance of workout gear. It is clothing you would (and can) wear if you live an active lifestyle. It isn’t just simply “workout gear” outside of the gym, but rather a blend between fitness and fashion.
Rooted in streetwear, athleisure is the fashion-oriented jock taking over the fashion world; part gym rat, part sneaker head. As early adaptors of the trend, sneaker heads and street wear aficionados, embraced the ‘jogger’ pants as nothing draws more attention to a pair of kicks than cuffed slim pants (or sweatpants). The style associated with athleisure has been easily incorporated within the street wear wearer’s wardrobe due to the fact that it rooted in the practicality of sports apparel.
“The “to and from” idea Haney speaks of is one of the roots of athleisure, a trend that represents clothes with style, but that can be worn to and from the gym as easily as to and from the office.” Source: http://gearpatrol.com/2015/08/25/future-of-athleisure-athletic-menswear/
In 2011, Alexander Wang was quoted that “sweatpants is a sign that we are becoming an elastic-waist nation”. Four years later and the rise of athleisure, you have to say that he may have been on to something. Athleisure is not just a passing trend or fad, but it is reflective of the times. A significant staple and element of men’s style and wardrobe has always been comfort. Athleisure, both stylish and casual, is an opportunity for consumers to be expressing their active lifestyle while also being fashionable.
In every business, it is important that brands listen to the consumers in order to meet their needs. The job of the industry is to create product that will satisfy the consumers craving. Consumer crave active clothes for the active lives that they have, or fantasize that they have. Designers are taking notice of the growing momentum behind athleisure and are incorporating new fabrics and sleeker silhouettes that are comfortable and look good in their lines. The staples being: sneakers, joggers, lightweight shirts, and fitting sweatshirts.
People today want to wear shoes and clothes that aren’t only comfortable but also make them look better than what everyone else is wearing. Many brands have adapted athleisure into their offerings, ranging from high fashion to street-wear. I’ll give a rundown of some of the top brands that are leading the way in today’s athleisure world below:
The prominent retailer has fully embraced the trend and even has a special category on their website. Peep this cool video they put together:
I will admit, when the athleisure trend started to rise in 2014, I was a skeptic and looked at it as just another fad. However, and I guess you may have already noticed, that has changed. I am now a believer and avid enthusiast of the trend, as I have always been a fan of comfort over style. Functionality is key! Check out my own personal twist on athleisure: