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How Did The Athleisure Trend Begin?
The athleisure trend actually traces its roots all the way back to 1997, when a Canadian entrepreneur named Chip Wilson found inspiration in the ubiquitous yoga pants. He figured they don’t just feel good; they look good as well. From there, he birthed Lululemon – the first of many fashionable “activewear” brands to come.
Since then, athleisure has become such a pervasive category of clothing that it almost seems to have transcended the notion of being just a trend. Sure, Nike’s CEO Mark Parker did say that “Leggings are the new denim”, in a Women’s Summit in 2014, but athleisure clothing hasn’t quite moved out of racks, nor have consumer and celebs moved on to the next thing.
This staying power may be connected to a few cultural trends – there’s the rise of the health and wellness industry (think: all the varieties of exercise trends you can imagine, from spin class to exercising with drumsticks), but there’s also the loosening up of companies when it comes to acceptable office wear.
Gone are the days of men in suits and brogues on an everyday basis. With those two shifts in modern culture combined, one can easily imagine an everyday scenario for most people of working age already. You can head to the gym in your work clothes and head to work in your exercise clothes, and nobody will bat an eyelash.
What Exactly Is Athleisure Wear?
Athleisure, meaning “athletic” and “leisure” combined, sounds a bit like a contradiction. But sporting athleisure clothing doesn’t necessarily mean you need to actually sign up for a gym membership and sweat your butt off. In fact, Chip Wilson, the godfather of athleisure himself, has said that athleisure, at the very least, is only meant to look athletic.
And why shouldn’t you when athleisure clothing looks so good and fashionable?
Wilson makes a distinction between technical athletic wear, meaning the kind of clothes athletes use to maximise their performance in whatever sports they’re in – and athleisure. The latter is comfortable, usually stretchy, casual, and athletic-looking clothes that you can use when you don’t want to be fussy about how you look.
It’s the kind of clothing that fits our very fast-paced world, where you’d have to shift from one type of task or event to another and you wouldn’t have time to change.
Why carry a bunch of different outfits with you when you can look good in just one?
Athleisure shoes are, obviously, sneakers. But what about the clothes? It’s a pretty broad spectrum, but anything from yoga pants and tank tops to sweatpants and hoodies count. Certain dresses made of stretchy, breathable material can also be considered athleisure.
Of course, these are all paired with sneakers. The key thing to remember is this: athleisure is supposed to be all about comfort and style. If you have those two down pat, you’re probably in athleisure wear, whatever you have on.
Where Can You Wear Athleisure Wear?
Like we mentioned, times sure have changed since the days when everyday-wear meant suits and slacks and stiff, serious clothing. Today, you can wear athleisure almost anywhere, from the gym to the office and even to the red carpet. Cara Delevingne even takes the look to the red carpet.
Who Wears Athleisure Clothing?
The athleisure trend has pretty much hit the entire globe, and it’s been like that for quite a while now. All sorts of people don the look, men, women, and anyone else in between. Though the trend rose to popularity in the U.S., people everywhere from the U.K. to China are in on the fashionable trend.
Tons of celebrities all over the globe love to sport the look as well. One of the most consistent wearers of athleisure clothing would have to be model Gigi Hadid. Gigi even collaborated with activewear brand Reebok, famous also for their athleisure shoes, for a 14-piece capsule collection that consists of ‘80s and ‘90s-inspired trainers and tracksuits.
Kylie Jenner loves Australian athleisure brand P.E. Nation, frequently posting OOTDs in her favourite P.E. Nation digs. Her sisters love it too, as Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian have also been spotted wearing the Aussie brand.
Model and wife to Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin-Bieber has been spotted donning athleisure wear from head to toe, favouring luxury brands like Koral.
Australian influencer and fitness buff Tammy Hembrow is often seen in all sorts of athleisure outfits. She even has her own athleisure brand, Saski Collection.