Some fashion trends are timeless. Others fade after a few months or years. Even so, all so-called timeless fashion styles had to be new at some point.
One of the definitive trends in contemporary clothing that’s here to stay is athleisure. The portmanteau name — athlete or athletic, and leisure apparel — says it all. This clothing style points to a world that’s increasingly conscious of how our clothing impacts our lifestyle.
Athleisure might seem like a nebulous, all-encompassing fashion style. In truth, while it has a fairly open definition, it has the same classifying regulations that other styles do. Below, we’re going to explain what athleisure is, where it came from, and what its modern fashion influence is.
What Are the Defining Traits of Athleisure Wear?
We’re again going to point to the fusion name to explain what defines athleisure. Athleisure apparel shares some qualities of both leisure wear and workout clothes.
Leggings, sweatpants, joggers, and similar all qualify as athleisure apparel. These activewear clothing items are just as likely to be worn casually as for their nominal, athletic purpose. It also includes other pieces of exercise dress like hoodies and sports bras.
Athleisure apparel has as its fundamental elements functionality, comfort, and style. These garments largely toe the line between being unstructured for a baggy or tapered fit and highly-fitted synthetic garments.
When it comes to fabrics, softness is key. Athleisure outfits need to be comfortable because they are all about casual and laid-back daily usage. Cottons, wool, and synthetic fabrics are among the most common athleisure fabrics used.
They have some common ground. They are all breathable, most are quick-drying or moisture-wicking, and many do not wrinkle easily.
These qualities make them versatile in various environments as you transition between spaces. You could put on yoga pants or sweatshirts and, in some cases, go to work, go to the gym, and come back home. You can wear them for flights or for transit. In short, they give you total freedom to spend your day how you want.
This sort of all-encompassing versatility and uncompromising comfort form the essence of athleisure apparel. It includes sportswear pieces, as well as everyday apparel taking style and comfort cues from athletic garments.
Next, we’re going to go into the history of athleisure apparel.
When Did Athleisure Become Popular?
True athleisure is a fairly recent trend. In order to explain how we got here, however, we need to explore the past. The middle decades of the 1900s led to many evolutions in the fashion world, especially in the fabric realm. Fabrics were first synthetically created during this time.
These were performance fabrics. They had special moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties that many natural fibers lacked, at least to the extent of these fabrics. These high-quality performance fabrics soon worked their way into everything from military garb to sportswear.
Athleisure has as its contemporary and sister style activewear. Prior to 1979, sportswear was intended exclusively for sport. Wearing athletic apparel as everyday clothing would seem bizarre or out-of-place. However, in 1979, the first actual activewear line was introduced.
At the same time, other groups began embracing sportswear as a de facto uniform. Tracksuits and athletic shorts became popular staples in hip hop, skater, and surfer cultures.
This was still sportswear, though. Activewear brought a true sense of style and daily legitimacy to wearing athletic-infused apparel. Once activewear began to be worn on its own, divorced from overt athleticism, athleisure was born.
Athleisure clothing has become especially popular in recent years because of a variety of factors: The notion of what daily uniforms look like changed. Many turned to casual clothing to provide functionality with a bit of style to daily existence. Bike shorts and buttery soft yoga leggings became the world’s go-to.
As athleisure grows, so too do subsets of athleisure apparel. These include premium streetwear options and semi-formal clothing with leisure-influenced designs.
Where Do People Wear Athleisure?
The odds are that most of us see someone in some form of athleisure apparel every time we leave the house. Casual-inspired apparel is increasingly seeing office use. It has become a go-to outfit for running errands or doing other activities.
A pair of workout leggings, for instance, can obviously be worn at the gym. They can also be worn working from home, in transit, or performing daily chores. Tank tops, especially premium ones, are an effective way to stay cool outdoors during the summer.
Streetwear started as a casual uniform, expressing a statement about culture and values. Now, athleisure is a similar uniform. Wearing an athleisure or activewear brand professes a sporty image while also providing immediate comfort.
The place that has taken the longest to adopt athleisure is, understandably, the workplace. As far as daily formal attire goes, the office has specific standards, especially where forward-facing elements are involved.
At the same time, more office-ready attire is taking cues from athleisure. Performance fabrics, subtle stretch components, and more are working their way into a variety of clothing articles.
When it comes to the appropriateness, athleisure benefits from being able to be worn everywhere. There’s little room for misunderstanding when it comes to the contexts where athleisure wouldn’t be appropriate.
One common misconception about it needs to be dismantled: Whatever athleisure is, it most certainly isn’t sportswear.
What Separates Athleisure From Sportswear?
Athleisure and sportswear do have some overlap. Both use performance fabrics, and both offer a full range of movement.
It’s made more complicated by the fact that with growing popularity, many large sportswear brands are now creating athleisure. Identifying the gap between the sportswear and athleisure of professional athletes is challenging, if not impossible. Because the gap between the two is so subtle, it is only in obvious cases that a garment is exclusively one.
Sportswear is used to refer to all athletic apparel, including uniforms whose performance-oriented design makes for daily impracticality. Sweats, tracksuits, and performance t-shirts are sportswear. However, so are tennis skirts, football uniforms, and running cleats.
When athletic wear isn’t athleisure, it is immediately recognizable. However, in many other cases, the line is more blurred.
For an example of loungewear that isn’t sportswear, let’s examine our own clothing. Paskho designs premium travel clothing to promote versatility and style in all contexts. This clothing is equally good for lounging or working, and is designed to help us navigate our changing environments.
These include apparel like our personal take on track pants. Micromodal fabric provides a comfortable stretch and effective moisture-wicking properties. The black and khaki colors reflect neutral tones similar to that found in office apparel. The tapered stretch provides a comfortable, relaxed fit.
Could you work out in these? Absolutely. Would you run a high-stakes marathon in them? Probably not, because that’s not the purpose of travel clothing or of athleisure apparel in general.
Athleisure is about the possibility of doing things. You can wear it anywhere you’d like and do almost anything. For sport-specific functions, it is necessary to turn to sportswear.
How Has Athleisure Changed Modern Fashion?
The athleisure trend isn’t just because of the pandemic. This workout gear and lounge apparel signify a shifting cultural attitude about how we dress. Just looking at analytics reports showing a nearly 9% annual growth proves it’s here to stay.
Even more significant in that report is an estimated outsized growth in premium athleisure. This type of attire is going to stay with us.
First, it’s comfortable and allows people to be comfortable in whatever they wear. Athleisure is also, because of performance fabrics, highly durable. This reduces the need to consume more articles of clothing per year. The best athleisure brands understand that versatility, freedom, and all-around comfort form the crux of their longevity.
The comfort in athleisure has expanded to different climates of both the fashion and everyday world. Now, even high-end designers are putting out athleisure wear. More notable, there is a greater degree of semi-formal apparel with casual elements.
This includes outerwear such as hoodies and jackets that have been made with greater attention to everyday style. It includes blazers made with stretch fabric for a more comfortable fit. Athleisure wear is everywhere, and its influence on world fashion at large is only just beginning.
Why Embrace Athleisure Apparel
There is no reason why any person, in any context, should make themselves needlessly uncomfortable. Discomfort should be for when we are pushing ourselves to our limits, learning new things, and reaching for growth. Your apparel should elevate your ability to meet these situations and not add to the discomfort.
Athleisure apparel isn’t just a confined trend. It is a bold statement for the entire fashion industry.
It can be found on the runway. It can be found in retailers everywhere. A dedication to comfortable fabrics, performance apparel, and uncompromising style can be found in our best travel clothing. Every single one of those values can be found in athleisure wear.