Have you noticed that it has become more acceptable to wear hoodies and joggers everywhere? Sportswear items like yoga pants, tracksuits and sneakers have been the go-to items for some time now. The merging of sportswear and everyday wear has resulted into a new hybrid style called Athleisure. It represents clothes that can be worn as athletic apparel but can be also worn as everyday clothes. What distinguishes athleisure from sportswear is the fact that sportswear is designed for exercising only, while athleisure can be worn for exercise and everyday wear. Athleisure has always been around but it became more mainstream in the mid-2010s and is gaining more and more following with each passing day. Read on to learn all about the evolution athleisure.

1. The Origin of Athleisure:

The term “Athleisure” was first invented in 1979 by the Nation’s Business magazine published by the US Chamber of Commerce. It was initially used to describe clothes and shoes that were designed to make people look more athletic. However, this was not the real origin of athleisure.

It all started in the 1930s when Champion invented the hoodie for laborers and athletes to keep them warm. Then in the 1950s Dupont, the American chemical company, invented “Spandex”. Spandex (Lycra) later became one of the most used components for athletic clothes. Later in 1963, German entrepreneur Adi Dasler, the person behind Adidas, created the first tracksuit for streetwear to make people appear more athletic. The aerobic craze of the 1980s introduced the athletic look in fashion, with women wearing spandex tights and men wearing tracksuits and sports jerseys as parts of their everyday outfits.

What really established athleisure into the mainstream was the modern day wardrobe essential yoga pants. 2015 was the year of athleisure due to the normalization of wearing yoga pants for everything. Lululemon, a Canadian athletic retailer, is widely credited for the way athleisure is now. People started wearing their yoga pants to exercise, brunch and the likes. Their clothes are suitable for working out or exercising and literally anything else as they are designed with practicality and stylishness in mind. Ever since then, yoga pants became the new jeans.

2. Quarantine’s Effect on Athleisure:

After the yoga pants era, some fashion brands gradually started to venture into athleisure and create activewear lines. Yet the athleisure industry boomed in 2020 after the pandemic. 2020 was the end of the world as we knew it. Quarantine forcefully kept us all at home, which resulted in businesses and individuals working remotely. Consequently, dress codes eased and barely even remained intact. Working from home made it possible to work while wearing sweatpants, pajamas, house slippers etc. This caused a major shift in the fashion world. People started to value comfort over style, sustainability over fashion. This is where athleisure comes in.

The fundamentals of athleisure include comfort, multifunction and stylishness. The transition from normal everyday life to quarantine generated massive traffic for athleisure. Gyms and sports clubs closed, so everyone started either home workouts or exercising outdoors. There were no events to dress up for and dressing down was the new thing. Athleisure catered to those needs and the rest was history.

3. Future of Athleisure:

In the years following the pandemic, most brands started branching into athleisure, even the high end ones like Gucci, Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney. The casualization of fashion got us all wondering if tracksuits are the new suit and tie and sneakers are the new oxfords. Sweatshirts, sweatpants and sneakers are now acceptable in most social events.  Fashion experts are predicting that athleisure will be a new constant in the industry, not just a passing trend. Some are even predicting that athleisure will be acceptable in most workplaces.

On a technical level, most of the materials used for manufacturing athleisure products are synthetic, plastic-based materials. In addition to being non-biodegradable, these materials leave micro plastics behind in the water they’re being washed in. These micro plastics eventually end up in our oceans and rivers. As a result, sustainable fashion is becoming the new big thing. This might hint towards a more green and sustainable future of athleisure.


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