The past year has seen the athleisure trend reach new heights in the world of fashion. Gone are the days of going to the gym looking like you rolled out of bed from a long night at the bar, bringing with it the concept of sportswear being too informal for wearing out into everyday life. The biggest beneficiary of this movement has undoubtably been direct sportswear brands, such as Nike and Under Armour, who have grown in popularity while traditional designers lose business as a result.
Many shoppers are opting towards multi-colored or classic black leggings with mesh tops or fashion-forward tops and sports bras, all of which bring a comfortable look that’s appropriate in more settings than it was previously.
So how has the trend ascended to this point? Well, it’s a simply a larger emphasis on universal body image. While the world of fashion comes with varying opinions and offerings, just about anyone can relate to being conscientious of their body image; it’s a concept that can be a factor within multiple realms of someone’s everyday life. It can affect your decision-making: Should I go to the bar or the gym? Should I get a salad or fast food? Should I go to bed or stay out all night? The list goes on continuously, and that in and of itself is the drive pushing both sportswear and everything that surrounds it further into the mainstream.
The model surrounding it is pretty strong as well, given aging that can significantly affect other trends and brands long-term. Some stores, like Forever 21, have a strong, yet focused consumer base centered around age. In essence, you’ll never want to feel like you’re 21 more than before you actually are. That’s a problem the athleisure movement doesn’t have to contend with. While the interests encompassing someone’s personal body image evolve and change over time, their level of interest in it will never truly fade. Reaching a diverse group of people is important, something Nike’s sportswear slogan “if you have a body, you’re an athlete” is fully aware of.
This didn’t happen overnight or by accident, though. It started by adapting to the issues of the consumer. Given the casual nature of athleisure, it needed it’s image adjusted in a way that promotes wearing it in more formal settings, namingly walking the streets of everyday life. It’s important for someone to feel like they aren’t underdressed so that the iridescent leggings or cross-strapped sports bra they bought has a more universal usage, thus giving them more reason to buy and wear it. Sportswear brands, such as Under Armour, are responding appropriately. The rising name hired designer Tim Coppens to help shape their sportswear line, which brings a more formal legitimacy to a casual ensemble. This is just one way these brands are trying to give their consumers the best of both worlds, something that is beneficial for both parties.
Given the nature of a trend, athleisure’s strong following at the moment may slow down However, it is proving through so many changes that it’s almost future-proof; there are few marketing weapons as powerful as the incorporation of someone’s personal body image. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with that, promoting everyone to have a healthier and happier lifestyle.