These days sportswear is no longer confined to gyms, sports clubs, or fitness studios. It seems like everyone is in sports clothes, and with this newfangled popularity, come new and innovative trends such as athleisure. The comfort and added features of this type of clothing, along with an ongoing fitness craze, and even the interest in sustainable fashion, all lead to the continuous growth of the trend.
The Rise of Athleisure
Athleisure, now a legitimate word in the dictionary stands for clothing that is suitable for both athletic and leisurely activities. You don’t have to sweat in your leggings to fulfil their true purpose; you can simply wear them anytime you want. Similarly, lots of young men and women are upping their trainer game without being remotely interested in sport.
Athleisure is worth $282 billion (£213 billion) globally, according to an article by Fashion Network. The industry continues to grow at 6.5% year-on-year and based on Euromonitor’s figures it is expected to generate another $61 billion (£46 billion) in sales by the year 2021. It’s been almost a decade since athleisure saw the light of day and it is still prevalent on the streets. In fact, last year’s Pure London tradeshow featured hundreds of athleisure brands. Athleisure has also proven that it is far from a passing fad. But why are we so many obsessed with athleisure without necessarily playing a particular sport?
(image: Silou London Instagram)
For one, athleisure is undeniably more comfortable than clothing like jeans and shirts. There’s been a rise in fabrics with moisture-wicking and odour control properties, which equates to more comfort when walking about. Most of the athleisure you see in the shops are also designed with aesthetics in mind, so they can be worn for many different purposes.
Athleisure has also tapped into an actual lifestyle. With more and more consumers becoming health-conscious, athleisure is aligned with their lifestyle choices. Social media is partly responsible for this shift in focus; from praising waif-like models as healthy to appreciating public figures who actually live healthy lives, it has begun to influence many to change their habits. For example, UK brand Gymshark has taken Instagram by storm with its army of athleisure-clad fitness influencers.
But Instagram celebrities are not the only ones promoting athleisure; athletes are also helping to drive sales. Boxing extraordinaire Nicola Adams teamed up with Everlast to launch her own line of sportswear. Unlike Gymshark’s clothing ranges, the clothing is specifically made for boxers. It was a great move by Everlast, as Adams is a huge name here in the UK. In fact, Adams is included in a list of ‘10 of the Most Iconic Sportswomen Since 2000’ by Coral, due to her gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 and for her work in the local community. With her reputation as one of the best female boxers in the world and a loyal following behind her, she has helped Everlast reach new heights with its athleisure ranges.
The great thing about Everlast is that it has taken steps to comply with environmental standards as well as ethical and social codes. The brand is a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant that aims to reduce consumer packaging while promoting recycling schemes. If you wanted to jump on the athleisure trend, there are other environmentally conscious activewear brands to choose from. A few of these sustainable options are listed by Stylist, which include Manduka, that makes leggings and yoga mats from recycled materials, Silou London that makes clothing manufactured from non-toxic materials and promises fair wages to its workers and of course, Patagonia, one of the biggest promoters of sustainable clothing. The mountaineering-focused brand makes most of its products from recycled fabrics that are durable while donating 10% of its profits to grassroots environmental organisations.
The beauty of athleisure compared to conventional clothing is that it goes hand-in-hand with sustainability in fashion. Flexibility is one of its common features, often allowing one item of clothing to be worn many different ways or at least reversible. The clothing is also made from lightweight materials that can be recycled, are breathable and easy to dry like bamboo. Eco-athleisure has the opportunity to bridge the gap between sustainability and trendy fashion, especially since athleisure is here to stay. Fashion trends are all well and good as long as consumers are mindful of where and what they’re purchasing.