The Rise in Athleisure

Carly Woodfield, Staff Writer

The fashion industry is constantly chasing the next best pattern, color, or fabric to trend, but there is one trend that is not going anywhere soon. Daily athletic clothing and shoes have been popular for a while, but there is a recent surge that has taken over people’s wardrobes. Before the pandemic we could see how sneakers, like Nike and Adidas, had a comeback and became a part of people’s daily outfits. When you think of yoga pants, typically you think of the pants you would wear for a yoga class, but they have expanded the wear for going to class, the store, and the airport. People have begun wearing their athletic clothing for more than just working out but as daily comfort clothing. The term for this is athleisure, which is defined as casual, comfortable clothing designed to be suitable both for exercise and everyday wear.” 

Athletic wear has become more popular for a number of reasons and comfort definitely plays a leading role in that, but what are other contributing factors to why athleisure is trending? 

Senior Chloe Bernsten says, “I think from staying at home for a while from COVID it made me want to wear more comfortable clothing. There was no reason to dress up.” Bernsten expresses that the pandemic has had an impact on the types of clothing she wears and how it has made the shift to athletic comfort clothes happen. Sophomore Cooper Cha also shares his thoughts on how the pandemic affected athleisure saying, “In the pandemic people haven’t been working out as much, and now people are starting to go back into the gyms. Therefore athletic wear is starting a comeback.” Cha’s point about people working out again is certainly a reason people are wearing athletic clothing more. According to Forbes, Athleisure orders jumped 84% since the start of the pandemic.” In general, it is clear that the pandemic has had a major impact on fashion and has influenced people to wear more athleisure in order to be comfortable while at home and out. 

Athleisure is possibly the new normal. Since athleisure is so comfortable and convenient, it is easy to throw an outfit together for almost any occasion. As stated by Sourcing Journal, “Nearly half of all consumers (48 percent) say active or athleisure bottoms have replaced some of the denim jeans in their wardrobe, according to the 2020 Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey. And more than a third (37 percent) say they prefer to wear athletic pants over denim jeans.” Many people choosing to wear athletic bottoms rather than jeans is surely a growing number. Berntsen said when given the choice between wearing jeans out versus athletic pants that “I prefer leggings.” Similarly, freshman Jenna Bice says, “I like wearing leggings. I don’t find jeans comfortable.” With that said, it is safe to say that there is undoubtedly a preference of athleisure bottoms today over jeans. 

So, with athleisure being so popular there are many well known brands that you see daily. According to USA Today, some of the current best athleisure brands include “Lululemon, Athleta, Gymshark, Adidas, Nike, and Fabletics.” Comparably, students Bernsten, Bice, Cha, and Junior Magnus Bergstrom share favorite brands of Lululemon, Nike, Adidas, and Gymshark. Overall, athleisure has made name brands that are well known to many and this industry is not slowing down. 

Since athleisure is becoming more popular and people are venturing with their gym clothes into places besides the gym, it is foreign to the past generations. Cha expresses that “I don’t think the older generations like it as much, back then people dressed much more formally.” The older generations certainly dress more formally for all outings, therefore seeing younger people wearing athleisure to the grocery store or the mall may be shocking. Likewise, Bergstrom says, “I feel past generations would be confused and not understand why people always wear comfortable clothes. My grandparents are always dressed up.” For the most part, older people believe that it is important to be dressed up and put together looking when going out, yet this generation has certainly made athletic wear less shocking to see on people for daily wear. 

With athleisure being accepted by many people, there are still some places and instances where people believe they should continue to dress more formally and ditch the athleisure. Cha conveys that at places like “church and funerals” should continue to be a place where more dressed up attire is necessary. Bice claims that “weddings and presentations” as well should be a place where formal wear is important. Lastly, Bernstrom says “going out to eat and at work” are other places to be formal at. On the note of wearing formal attire at work, Sourcing Journal says, “Among people who work outside of their home, seven in ten (70 percent) say if they had to choose between a job that required them to wear formal clothes versus one that permitted casual clothes, they would choose the one with a casual dress code, according to the Monitor™ research.” That said, it shows the impact athleisure has on people. 

In all, athleisure is a growing style that has a chokehold on society right now. With athletic wear being so comfortable and practical to wear out, it has allowed for many people to be able to wear it on many occasions and look good while being comfortable in their clothes.