Nike has become the most valuable clothing brand in the world for the past few years. This dynamic continues, especially amid the pandemic crisis.
It is not surprising, though, considering how the public’s choice of style in terms of clothing has immensely changed. Surprisingly, comfort has become the norm and sportswear has become a staple to the point that everyone now calls it fashion.
With this current scenario, it has become clear that sportswear is no longer restricted to sports. Everywhere you go, whether it may be inside a workspace or an office, you will see someone wearing sportswear pieces, like trousers, sweatshirts, sneakers, and even tracksuits and track jackets.
Sportswear Is No Longer A Piece To Sweat In
Some reports claim that the unprecedented sportswear boom appears to be a “pendulum swing away” from the usual smart sartorial pieces in the past. Following the economic downturn in 2007, several jobs that emerged no longer require employees to wear and follow traditional dress codes.
Apart from this, it has become a norm for almost everyone to don sportswear items outside the gym due to the so-called “swelling fashionability of fitness.” Beyond comfort and laziness, many individuals have chosen to spend their time easily throwing comfortable and convenient items, like hoodies and caps.
Accordingly, the usual sportswear pieces have become more sensible when worn outside gyms and fitness centers.
It Did Not Happen Overnight
Although sportswear has taken over almost everyone’s wardrobe, this did not happen in a day or one night. The truth is - it started long before anyone could have realized.
The rise took place, though, with the public’s realization, by the mid-80s and 90s. Starting from the football casuals, English teams traveled across Europe in the late 70s and early 80s. During these periods, brands carrying continental sportswear pieces appeared to have infiltrated those areas.
Then, there is the hip-hop rise, wherein most artists blatantly promote the appeal of sportswear before the public. While this all became more apparent in the 21st century, the athletic aesthetics reportedly stemmed from the mid-80s, particularly when Run DMC replaced those tailored jackets for tracksuits. Moreover, the three-striped trainers skyrocketed, even causing Adidas to close an endorsement deal with the hip-hop group.
Who would forget, of course, the creation of leggings? Reports said that Lululemon is credited for the emergence of the athleisure movement.
All because of the pairs’ practicality, convenience, comfort, and cost, yoga pants and leggings have become a normal piece to wear even outside yoga studios and fitness arenas. Following fame and success, brands eventually saw the opportunity, causing them to release more casual designs to be able to compete in the market.
The Apparency: How It Took Over
The apparent rise seemingly took the spotlight in the 70s to 90s. But, basing it all on the movements in fashion, as well as societal changes, it is believed that sportswear becoming a norm among the public started as early as the 20s.
As it happened, the timeline is reportedly a “long and circuitous tale,” involving adaptations and changes in both aspects of society and culture.
From Tracksuits To Leisure Suits
In the early 20th century, sportswear was used to describe the clothing items that people wore when watching sports. But, the dynamic changed when stretch fabrics evolved in the following decades, producing nylon athletic shorts, anoraks, and windbreakers.
In the 60s, manufacturers began to play with the current materials, allowing the creation of nylon jersey tracksuits and color-coordinated cotton. These items have since become iconic and classic sportswear.
Thanks in part to Bruce Lee’s popularity, he brought the classic tracksuit into the world of mainstream fashion. With his fame and success, the public followed suit and everyone started to don colorful, bright tracksuits.
Ski Suits To Bright, Vivid One-Piece Suits
Skiing became a popular hobby for the elites in the 1920s. With the increasing trend at that time, several high-profile brands, like Schiaparelli and Hermès, provided stylish apparel for the activity. Many of them started to create matching pieces, including pants and jackets, as well as ensembles to don while skiing.
But, it only took a couple of decades before vivid and bright-colored ski wears entered the mainstream fashion. Ski suits in deep pink and bright turquoise became widely accepted and has since been embraced by the mass.
While it seemingly took off from the public a few years later, the style has since emerged with an evident cult appeal.
Bringing Tennis Style From Courts To The Streets
Aside from tracksuits and ski wears, tennis wear also achieved an immense cult following since its emergence in the early 20th century. Thanks to the two prominent Parisian tennis players, Jane Régny and Suzanne Lenglen, they were some of the early designers and sellers of activewear in their era.
Tennis wear has since been associated with various styles, including collegiate, prep, and resort. This eventually helped several brands, like Fred Perry, to reach cult status, allowing them to become a part of the streetwear trend.
Is It Here To Stay?
Trends in fashion do come and go. But, with the popularity and success of sportswear in the industry, many seemingly wonder whether it is here to stay for good.
The truth is - if discussing the “for good” manner, no one knows for sure. However, the current trend and movement among the masses reportedly indicate that sportswear is here to stay for quite a long time. It makes total sense, as well, considering that “athleisure” has already become an official word, which is now found in dictionaries.
In addition, there is also reportedly a reason to conclude in such a way because of the forecast of the industry’s growth in the next few years. Based on the data from the Global Industry Analysts, sportswear will grow up to $232 billion in the next three years. This is why many believe that it is a “different league” in comparison to the other fashion trends in recent years.
Sportswear Essentials and Must-Haves
Aiming to go with the trend? Here are some of the essentials and must-haves that you should look into, in the world of sportswear and athleisure:
Sweatshirts are the solid building blocks of an athleisure wardrobe. You can do anything with and even pair or match it with other items.
Its flexibility makes it very fitting in the athleisure trend. This is why it is a must-have for every athleisure closet.
American manufacturer Russell is the pioneer in the sweatshirt sector. It became so popular at that time, causing the piece to become a staple in the athletic division.
If you are after quality, make sure to look after “loopwheel.” This means that the garment underwent a much older, slower, and more expensive process, resulting in a more durable output.
Next to sweatshirts, hoodies are another building block to the athleisure trend. They are great for layering, as well, making them very versatile.
Whether you need it for cold or hot seasons, hoodies are ideal pieces that can help you out with your athleisure look. They are lightweight and very helpful in keeping you warm.
Hoodies have different types, as well. There are zip hoodies and there are pullovers. Whatever you choose, they go perfectly well with anything.
In most cases, experts opt for neutral tones for hoodies. Although gray, black, and white are the most popular ones, you can also be creative with your athleisure style with the use of vivid tones and hues of hoodies.
Sweatpants and Joggers
Sweatpants and joggers are two different pieces. While the former is designed to encourage sweating, the latter is made for keeping the legs cool while jogging.
Accordingly, sweatpants are fitted and use thick materials and fabrics. On the other hand, joggers are loose yet they sit on the hips, like any other jogging pants.
Despite the key differences, though, they are some of the essentials that you must have when you want to work on your athleisure look and style. They are stylish and very comfortable.
Aside from joggers and sweatpants, leggings are another bottom type that you must have in your athleisure wardrobe. Depending on your usual style and preferences, you may opt to have ⅞ length or a full-length pair.
Whether you choose one or both, ensure to have black and gray pairs on your sets. But, prints work well, too, so be sure to include some in your wardrobe.
They are versatile and flexible, as well. You can match it with almost anything, from denim tops to short dresses, and even sweatshirts. Likewise, you can pair it with any type of footwear.
For your footwear options, sneakers are the way to go. Although boots and heels are great options, too, having pairs of sneakers in your wardrobe is one of the keys to pulling off a sure, fashionable athleisure style.
You should, however, ensure the quality of your pairs. They should always be neat and in pristine condition.
The truth is - your chosen sneakers can elevate your overall ensemble. It is best if you have neutral tones, especially white ones.
It is worth noting, though, that it is up to you to decide whether to stick to sneakers or not. But, having them in your athleisure wardrobe is a must to pull off a genuine athleisure style all the time.
Blazer and Lightweight Jacket
Blazers and lightweight jackets are additional essentials to complete your basic athleisure sets. They complement well any ensemble, and they usually serve as a completing piece for the overall puzzle.
Blazers are the “sports jacket” of the 19th century. Reports noted that they are even equivalent to a hoodie of today’s generation.
Whether you choose bright-colored ones or dark tones, they are very ideal to utilize for any kind of athleisure ensemble. But, it is always recommendable to use pastel colors for your top layers.
Similarly, lightweight jackets work in the same principle as blazers. Opt to have light and pastel colors for these items.
They also match well with almost anything. Even if you choose to wear a simple dress, topping it off with a lightweight jacket, alongside a pull-off sneaker, makes your whole look very sporty and chic.
Doing It The Modern Way
While having all the essentials is the first step, you should know, as well, how to don these pieces in the modern era. Here are some pointers that you may want to consider:
Always Layer Up
Layering up is one of the keys to wearing an athleisure ensemble in the modern era. Start with the basics, like high-waist bottoms and tees. From there, top it up with either jackets and blazers or zip-up hoodies, alongside other completing accessories. These may include chokers, scarves, and iconic necklaces.
You may also do the same with dresses and leggings. Aside from pairing it with sneakers, match the whole outfit with denim jackets.
No matter what items you choose, though, layering up is the key to pulling off a modern athleisure look.
Balance and proportion are some of the most essential factors you have to consider when wearing an athleisure look today. If you are wearing a loose top, make sure to opt for a fitting bottom. Conversely, don more relaxed joggers or other similar pairs when you wear a fitting top, like tees.
The important thing here is to ensure having a “structure” in your overall outfit. Wearing an all-fitted or an all-loose ensemble from head to toe is apparently a deal-breaker. It could look messy and lousy, which are something you would not like for a look.
Unique, Unexpected Texture
Soft knit and stretchy fabrics are the most common materials you can see or feel in an athleisure wardrobe. Although it works well, there are times that you may want to add a unique and unexpected texture to your overall outfit.
Some great examples are silk scarves and leather jackets. Denim pieces are also great to elevate the accent and texture of the entire look. These are only some recommendations and suggestions. You can utilize other textures if you want as long as they will complement the look that you intend to pull off.
Sustainability has now become a factor that many consumers consider when wearing athleisure pieces. Several individuals are now more concerned about how companies and manufacturers source their materials in making the products. This is why many brands and labels today have become more transparent with their systems and processes.
If you are building your own athleisure wardrobe, you may want to look for items that came from sustainable materials. Choose to wear such pieces that are beneficial to everyone in society.
The Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Athleisure
So, you have the essentials, alongside the ideas of carrying the trend in your day-to-day. What now?
Here is a quick guide on the dos and don’ts of wearing athleisure:
Mix and Match
Mix and match is the first and basic rule of athleisure wear. Incorporate your usual pieces with the likes of hoodies, tees, sneakers, and track pants, and you are ready to go.
While it may sound too good to be true, athleisure is basically a mix of sportswear and casual items. Whether you are intending to maxi dresses or skirts, pairing them hoodies or sneakers will already do the trick. Ensure to have a matching ensemble, though, to avoid looking sloppy and baggy.
Crisp and Clean
Although sportswear items are designed technically for sweating in, donning such pieces for your athleisure look should be neat and tidy. All aspects of the look should be flawless and clean.
Whether you are wearing sweatshirts or pants, make sure that they look as if they just came out of the dryer, fresh and crisp. This is one of the top rules when intending to bring out your athleisure game.
This also applies to your footwear. They should be in good condition, especially when you want to wear them on engagements and events.
Fabric blending is similar to mixing and matching pieces. You can also incorporate layers in this area.
One of the great examples is leather and sweats. The ensemble will appear sleek, edgy, and stylish.
You should consider wearing leather boots, as well, when you want to seal the deal. However, this is not an ideal outfit to wear when attending formal events. So, be careful with your choices all the time.
Swap Heels For Trainers
Even if you are wearing dresses and skirts, completing the look with sneakers and trainers works well when it comes to the athleisure trend. Many individuals love the juxtaposition between the ruggedness of the footwear and the chicness of the dresses.
While sneakers and other similar pairs of footwear are must-haves when wearing fashionable sportswear, boots and heels will work, too. Besides, you do not need to change everything, from head to toe.
Creativity is one of the things that you must express in athleisure wear. This can be manifested with the use of accessories and pieces of jewelry.
However, these things can be quite tricky. Too many accessories may end up ruining the entire ensemble. So, while making sure not to overlook such pieces, be very careful in mixing and matching them on your sartorial items.
A simple pair of hoops and thin necklaces, nevertheless, always do the trick, plus, a watch that will complement the outfit.
Going Overboard With Bright Colors, Complex Prints
Athleisure wear and style go well with colors and prints. In fact, some notable and fashionable sportswear features bright and vivid colors.
However, this does not mean that you should go overboard with it. The same is also true for the prints.
Make sure to choose pieces and accessories that will not clash with each other. For instance, if you wear neutral shades for your clothing items, pair them with bright accessories.
As stated above, wearing neat and tidy pieces is a must to pull the athleisure style. But, aside from having fresh and crisp items, they should not also feature any stains and tears. They are never acceptable.
In fact, this applies to any sartorial pieces that you have. Whether going out for a quick meet-up or engagement, be sure to don items that are not “ratty.”
Accordingly, ensure to maintain them in good condition. One of the best ways to do this is to never wear them as your everyday clothing items inside your home.
Baggy and Oversized Pieces
Comfort and convenience are the essences of sportswear. But, it does not mean that you will put on anything that you see comfortable despite the flaws and poor condition.
Athleisure style does not equate to wearing baggy and oversized pieces in all aspects and pairing them designer bags and heels. It involves wearing neat and fit items that elicit comfort and convenience on your end.
Used Gym Pieces, Items
Although the athleisure trend largely revolves around wearing the sporty look with sportswear items, this does not mean that you should don those used pieces that you usually wear when inside gyms and fitness centers.
Such items are a big no-no when you are intending to pull off a fashionable sporty look. Make sure to separate those pieces from your casual athleisure clothes.
Abandoning Of Signature Style
Despite encouraging changes in your outfits and tweaking them a little, you do not need to abandon your signature style. As noted, an athleisure look involves the incorporation of sportswear items into your existing wardrobe.
So, instead of leaving your overall style behind, you just blend them in with the new pieces from the said trend. You do not need to let go of your fashion choices for this specific ensemble. Experts recommend mimicking the way you usually dress up.
All in all, sportswear becoming a norm is no longer surprising to the majority. While others could not seemingly grasp the idea of blending athletics into leisure, in terms of fashion pieces, there is no denying that there is, indeed, a huge and hefty market. Moreover, it is here to stay, and will likely evolve further in the next few years.