- It has been reported that over the last seven years, the athleisure sector has "grown 42 percent, and by 2026, it is expected to reach a value of over $250 billion."
- With the pandemic inspiring a desperate lean towards the wellness movement, yoga pants are the new leather jackets.
- What this means is that athleisure is also going through a slight makeunder, introducing a subgenre we'll call "Fitcore" for now, as fitness apparel takes over as daily casual wear.
The comfort economy accelerated by the pandemic has bolstered athleisure and loungewear to top spots on fashion trends list.
But what I'm about to talk about here is not athleisure in its conventional layout. What I'm referring to is actual fitness gear - items you wear on a run, a sweat-it-all-out spinning session, or a 7am Saturday morning hike.
And when I mention kicks later on, it'll be takkies/running shoes/trainers.
Because when they say "running shoes", they don't specify running what, right? Running errands or your business - who knows.
So no, this (hardly) new style convention does not necessarily entail those soft grey or pastel-hued sweatpants 'Hypebaes', street style makers, and trendy TikTokers are pairing with heels. It's also not cycle shorts worn with blazers and heels, and it's not luxe casual co-ords made for equal parts brunch and running errands.
Athleisure as we currently know it:
Ellie Delphine on February 11, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Rather, consider athleisure's makeunder a return to Derby days of teenage years past. You know, that "I just played a hockey match and my way of announcing this is by wearing my hockey boots to the mall" look.
Or think; wearing your tracksuit top over your school shirt. Not forgetting that eyesore taste-defying full-tracksuit-and-school-shoes pairing.
On any other occasion and social environment, these uniform ensembles I just mentioned are strictly... odd.
But since sportwear brands became the prefects of mainstream fashion fads, collaborations have been plenty and almost everyone has been dabbling in athleisure. Some even making it their staple look.
"Technological innovations in fabrics, the trend of sporty aesthetics, and the body-positive movement have been fundamental to the success of fashion’s athleisure movement," notes Heuritech, who also highlights that the athleisure sector has "grown 42 percent in the last seven years, and by 2026, it is expected to reach a value of over $250 billion."
And with the pandemic inspiring a desperate lean towards the wellness movement, yoga pants are now the new leather jackets.
So why fitness apparel in particular?
Well, for me it all started in January while I was still on leave - with a dormant gym membership - I would toy with the idea of going for a run at around 3pm every afternoon. So I would put my running tights on, strap on the sports bra, lace up my running shoes, and then... fix myself a drink or hop over to McDonald's.
After a few more days of this, I got a new-found appreciation for the design elements of activewear. I always saw it as merely functional and sometimes even flattering, but nothing beyond that.
It's like what they say about finally realising the song you always skip is actually a sonic gem.
So now, I incorporate it into my daily casual looks - from the mall to the airport. The charm here is in the accessorising; completing your gym-tights-and-white-shirt look with a pair of gold hoop earrings, for example. Or wearing mules and carrying a swanky leather handbag while dressed in a full Quantec/Taslon tracksuit.
Oh wait, did I just describe an off-duty suburban accountant's style DNA? Guess they've been onto something all along.
Of course, this is nothing revolutionary - I just figure since there are clearly no longer any sartorial rules after 2020, why not officially establish this as a subgenre of athleisure?
Enter what I have now dubbed "Fitcore".
Sporty Spice, these are your flowers! Let's take a look at a few variations of this trend:
Takkies and swankies
Pairing actual running shoes - in lieu of on-trend sneakers - may make for an offbeat look, but it certainly puts a spring in your step (because it's SO comfortable).
Natalia Verza in a beige leather long trench coat with fluffy cuffs from Saks Potts, a black quilted Chanel mini belt bag, gray sportswear jogger pants and New Balance trainers, on February 13, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Sonia Lyson is seen wearing grey sneakers Adidas, tennis socks Adidas, grey jogger pants Sundarby, brown teddy coat Max Mara, Dior Caro bag on January 31, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
Under Armour HOVR Infinite 3 running shoes, R2799 at Under Armour
Image supplied by Under Armour
Tights, whites, and (slight) heights
It need not necessarily be gym tights, joggers and active shorts will do too. There's nothing a white (or plain button-down) shirt can't dress up.
Natalia Verza wears a white shirt, a black tie, a beige leather long trench coat with fluffy cuffs from Saks Potts, a black quilted Chanel mini belt bag, gray sportswear jogger pants, on February 13, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Who said you can't elevate your tights with a pair of kitten heels?
A guest at New York Fashion Week Spring 2017. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
Ivy Park monogram tights, R1499 at Adidas
Cotton-rich high-waisted leggings by Maxed, R139.99 at Mr Price Sport
Sling a blazer over any athletic ensemble so people can actually believe you when you tell them you've showered. Also, if the derby day look is what you're really after, this is the defining getup.
Note: Only a blazer - not heels or any other fashion-heavy trinkets - should be the casual accompaniment to your otherwise gym-ready outfit.
Masha Sedgwick wearing Maison Margiela white bag, Nike socks, Mango blue jogging two piece, Envelope 1976 beige blazer, brown shades and white Skechers sneaker on February 22, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)
Nike 2-in-1 black run shorts, R499.95 at Totalsports
Edition double-breasted blazer, R899 at Woolworths
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.