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  • Writer's pictureLalita Dileep

How Athleisure became Mainstream - exploring this cool trend

Athleisure is outpacing the rest

Looking back it is hard to pinpoint when activewear or athleisure become a "thing". Finding it's way from the gym and yoga studio and becoming acceptable street wear and even corporate wear. Being nothing short of a global revolution athleisure is not just a passing trend since it represents the sweet spot between traditional sportswear and fashion apparel. Exercise clothing has come into vogue as everyday wear. The inherent message is that donning this attire speaks to fitness being not just a passing phase, but a commitment to a lifestyle change.

And the added bonus, the clothes are comfy, because we get to don sweatpants, tights, sneakers, sports bras and gym tanks. An arena where fashion industry meets street fashion to create stylish daily wear clothes for work and play. It is also easy to rock the look because one can amp up the style quotient by either dressing up for a more formal look or keeping it casual. Athleisure also works across generations and is gender neutral. Until recently, athleisure wear was perceived as casual wear designed to be worn for exercising and lounging around the house. Fast forward to recent times and see how quickly athleisure has evolved. Endorsed by celebrities, elevated to divine status by the fashion industry it is now viewed as fitness inspired fashion. So it is worth taking a deep dive into how it all started and why it’s not going away.

Organic beginnings, exponential growth

The fitness lifestyle began to gain popularity in the 70s, when leggings with socks came into their own. Brands started to innovate by making clothes with extra stretch keeping comfort in mind. Spandex, Lycra and other synthetic fibers with wicking qualities began to find their way into the market. Expansions continue to this day and clothes are being made with odor reduction, flexibility, sweat-wicking and protection from dirt. Innovation also continues by introducing sustainable fashion such as using recycled plastics and other new materials.

These are a perfect fit for today's lifestyle since we are constantly on the move. Athleisure has made it easy to go for a run and continue to head to work straight afterwards. That’s what is so appealing about it – it’s practicality. Merriam-Webster defines athleisure as “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use ". More specifically, athleisure is the athletic apparel speaking to society’s more relaxed standard for dress codes driven by the millennial generation. It is not surprising that this segment continues to grow as a juggernaut and is a booming multi billion dollar industry.

Mass appeal

Interestingly enough researchers have coined the term "enclothed cognition" to describe the mental changes we undergo when we wear certain clothing. It points to the symbolic meaning that one would associate with a particular item of clothing. This would translate to meaning that by donning athletic clothing, we can become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out. Like a domino effect it amps our confidence, so no wonder gym clothes are out in the open, on full display in the office, grocery store, on errands - practically everywhere.

This is also tied closely to consumer awareness and an uptick in the expenditure for personal health, fitness and wellness. Brand appeal in active wear goes beyond style and comfort, it is in one word a lifestyle offering. It speaks to a sense of community and belonging to the consumer, thereby reinforcing brand loyalty. There is a sense of inclusion, which is invaluable. No wonder there are so many new brands crowding the market place. Activewear has also become popular because it blurs the boundaries in fashion, sets the tone for casual and melds easily with on- the - go lifestyle of most of us. Our wardrobes look transformed this millennial and we are all so much at ease for it.

We are stronger together


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