By Miranda Zsigmond
What started as a harmless trend in 2014 quickly became one of fashions biggest revenue-generating designer obsessions: ahleisure.
A term that encompasses the broad spectrum of clothing appropriate for either athletic or leisure pursuits, athleisure wear ranges from boutique leggings of the Lululemon sort to layered cashmere sweaters to designer workout gear.
Whether described as “après sport” or “gym-to-the-office,”athleisure has clearly become a lifestyle choice. A growing number of companies, from Gap to Forever 21, have expanded their lines to accommodate this booming trend.
Even online luxury guru Net-a-Porter has made the shift, launching a new channel playing off its namesake called Net-a-Sporter. According to the website, the brand delivers “sportswear that is as chic as everything else in your closet.” This includes a mix of basic Nike tanks for $30 as well as luxury items like a Karl Lagerfeld sweatshirt for $235 and cashmere-and-linen track pants from The Elder Statesman for $600.
Tory Burch is one of the most recent designers to launch a sports line. Tory Sport merges a polished-yet-retro aesthetic with well-researched technical athletic details to provide an outfit that is not only fitness functional but also street-wear ready.
The line is unique in that it is a completely separate brand from Tory Burch. Tory Sport plans on releasing apparel for yoga, golf, running and tennis, along with bags, shoes and leather items that will facilitate the transition from office to gym. The new line will have its own storefronts and website, all separate from the main Tory Burch line.
Not everyone is buying into the hype of designer fitness wear, however, including active gym-goer Samara Gilman.
“It just doesn’t makes sense to me, “ said Gilman. “Why would you spend so much money on clothes that look like you’re about to go to the gym?”
Others suggest that athleisure is the missing link between casual and trendy.
“Athleisure is the best of both worlds,” said SMU student and class-pass fanatic Jo Parmer “Clothing that I can wear all day and then run into a pilates class [at the end of the day] aligns with my busy schedule and really provides me no excuses not to work out.”
Fledgling designers and small boutiques have emerged to meet the demand for this hybrid breed of active casualwear. Titika Active Couture, a Canadian brand, is indicative of this trend. The name alone suggests a combination of form and function. The company carries a lux version of the traditional black leggings, as well as cashmere leg warmers, unique yet still functional sport bras and mesh sweaters.
It is the incorporation of conventional athletic fabric onto non-athletic pieces, however, that elevates the company’s clothing. For instance, Titika’s mesh around skirt, retailing for $84, utilizes athletic mesh in cutout spaces on a midi circle skirt. Althoug the skirt is impractical for working out, it provides the same level of comfort as your favorite pair of yoga pants.
Companies like Titika provide people in active careers a range of stylish options to choose from for their work wardrobe. Chantelle Conley, a White Rock Lake rowing coach and yogi, appreciates these more fashionable choices.
” When it is someone’s job to work out, clothing options used to be pretty basic and limited,” said Conley. “I really feel that this is the break people in work-out professions were waiting for. Wearing and purchasing designer athletic wear as an athletic instructor shows a sort of commitment from the instructor that can be translated to their students.”
Maybe that’s why you always see your spin instructor head-to-toe in Lululemon.
In any case, athleisure has made its way onto the runways and into our closets. It’s a trend that probably won’t fade away anytime soon.