Wearing sweatpants in public has never been more accepted than today and with more high-end brands capitalising on the trend, athleisure may be more than just a fashion fad.
1998 marked the year of the yoga pants. Based in Vancouver, Lululemon Athletica introduced the public to the first pair of purchasable yoga pants. Fast forward 22 years and yoga pants have been pivotal in carving out a sub-genre in the fashion industry.
When I’m talking sub-genre, I’m talking about a US$46billion genre. And that was just in 2016. Since then, athleisure has gone on to infiltrate brands such as Dior and Givenchy.
What is athleisure?
If you’re not privy to the happenings in the fashion world, athleisure may just sound like another boujee term for the latest trend. And to be honest, it pretty much is. Athleisure essentially refers to an athletic-inspired outfit that can be worn for exercise-purposes or for a casual outing.
Popularised by models such as Gigi Hadid, athleisure has brought yoga pants, sport bras and tank tops to the forefront. In 2016, Kanye West brought forward his take on athleisure at the New York Fashion Week. Showing off his $500 sweatpants at the time, the Yeezy brand has since then gone on to delve further into athleisure, partnering up with Adidas and constantly releasing new hoodies and tights.
Since its inception, athleisure has become a reoccuring act at the New York Fashion Week. The 2019 Spring week did not fall short on the pattern, with brands like Saski, Blonde Republic and NNCY chiming in on the athleisure trend.
While high-end brands capitalise on these trends however, not everyone is convinced by the latest fashion statement. At the 2019 Milan Fashion Show, Italian fashion designer, Domenico Dolce spoke out against the growing trend saying, “Fashion is change. It is the time for elegance. People don’t dream of sneakers any more. They dream of something different.” And while the Dolce & Gabbana executive may feel like athleisure is an outdated trend, moves in the industry reflect otherwise.
Ivy Park / Yeezy
Take Beyonce for instance. A 23-time Grammy winner, with an estimated net worth of $400 million, has relaunched her athleisure brand, Ivy Park. Focusing on products such as windbreakers and tights, it’s hard to argue that the athleisure trend is dying out.
And if Beyonce isn’t enough, then brace yourself for Kanye West. No stranger to the fashion industry, it seems as though Kanye has always presented athleisure type products as part of his collections. Now with two of the biggest artists in music devoting attention to athleisure, it may be here to stay.
The Future Trend of Athleisure?
By forcing its way onto the scene, athleisure may have opened up designers to become more experimental with their products. And with models confidently rocking ‘gym-attire’ to their next meeting or to lunch, it’s clear that change is being welcomed.
Cranium Apparel is an Indian e-sport company that specialises in clothing for the gaming community. And while they have received backlash for their recent attempts to appeal to female consumers, their specialisation is the bigger picture. While not everyone may be a fan of e-sports, the fact that there is a company that specialises in clothing for the niche community could point towards the openings in the fashion industry.
With music and fashion being intertwined so closely together, some artists have also gone on to make fashion statements. Hip-hop artist, ASAP Rocky is infamous for his decision to rock a Balenciaga-designed life jacket over a Gucci hoodie. Now while this was a goldmine for memes, it also represents the doors that athleisure have opened for the fashion industry. Is a life jacket fashionable? Why not. Who knows, maybe golf attire could look fashionable in the right context. Regardless, it seems as though athleisure is not only here to stay, but is also here to morph into a whole new abstract style of fashion.
Subscribe to FIB’s newsletter for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!