In the fashion world, we may have Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid partly to blame with the rise of athleisure wear outside the confines of a yoga studio. After all, they are just a few of the young faces in high fashion who have been spotted wearing yoga pants while out and about, turning athleisure wear into street-ready fashion.
The Rise of Athleisure WearWhen it first came into fashion consciousness, the term “athleisure” wasn’t exactly welcomed with a roaring applause. InStyle’s Eric Wilson once called it “ridiculously nonsensical” while The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica described the word “unbearable.” Despite initially being dismissed as a fleeting fad (much like the 80s shoulder pads), athleisure continues to rise in popularity, even making it to the 2016 Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Today, as a fashion category, it’s a force to be reckoned with. In fact, data from Morgan Stanley Research in 2016 showed that the US activewear market accounts for annual sales of $97 billion. It is also projected that there’s room for the industry to grow, an estimated 30% growth in sales by 2020 in the US market alone.
Embracing a Fit LifestyleOne major factor driving the popularity of athleisure wear is the growing interest of the general public on living a fit lifestyle. Instagram, for instance, is littered with celebrities and fitness influencers over-sharing juice cleansing recipes, spinning classes and gym selfies. To a degree, it’s almost a fashion mortal sin to wear an oversized shirt or cheap sneakers while on the treadmill. But what’s truly interesting about the athleisure wear trend is that it has organically invaded the streets. In fact, according to Mintel research, a third of shoppers buying yoga pants and sportswear sneakers have no intention of being remotely close to a gym or breaking a sweat. We see them everywhere— the young moms who need a comfortable everyday wear while out and about as they shuffle kids to soccer games or after-school classes. Or the young millennial whose definition of creative work uniform involves Pierre Hardy or Gucci sneakers. A major reason for this is likely because athleisure wear fits the busy, modern-day lifestyle.
Athleisure Wear in Haute CoutureIn the world of haute couture, luxury brands like Hermes, Fendi and Dolce & Gabanna are just a few of those who were inspired by the athleisure concept. Collaborations with activewear brands have now become common. Adidas, for instance, has worked with Alexander Wang, who is set to launch his second Adidas Originals collection, inspired by the rave culture and cycling. Expect Instagram to blow up as posters will appear on the streets of New York on July 29 with codes and contact information on how to purchase the fashion pieces. A bike messenger will then deliver the package to those who are lucky enough to place an order. Luxury house brand Chanel has also been turbocharging their streetwear contribution by releasing their sneakers collection, some blended with the brand’s iconic tweed material. Owing to its luxurious factor, it’s easy to see why Chanel sneakers have been spotted with evening dresses (cue in Big Bang Theory Kaley Cuoco!).
And just in case you need more proof that marriage between high fashion and athleisure is a possibility, just take a look at sneaker customizer The Remade’s Hermes-inspired Adidas NMDs, clearly an homage to Hermes’ iconic Birkin Bag.
With exciting collaborations happening in high fashion, there are certainly no signs that the athleisure wear trend is slowing down. Gym fanatic or not, are you riding the athleisure wear bandwagon?
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