The Blurred Lines of Athleisure

The Origin of Athleisure

In the HBO original show ‘Girls’, a fictional brand for athletic denim is set up as a hilarious parody of the yoga pants- centric brand ‘Lululemon’.  The main character gushes to the founders of ‘Jamba Jeans’, “You have completely cracked open the market on athletic denim”. It’s done as a way of simultaneously poking fun at the real-life multibillion-dollar corporation as well as paying homage to the brand for spearheading the trend of athleisure.

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Courtesy: Lululemon Athletica

In early 2015, around the same time Lululemon’s stylish but high performance athletic wear was creating waves in the market, fashion media increasingly started talking about athleisure – to the point where the trend became a household name. It wasn’t long before  brands like Adidas and Reebok followed suit and started working with fashion designers and celebrities to release luxury athleisure for women.

But here’s a question – : is athleisure just athletic wear that can be worn beyond the gym? Or is it actually a gym inspired fashion trend?

Celebrity Collaborations with Athleisure

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Only recently, Gigi Hadid dropped her new athleisure line in collaboration with Reebok. Her line, which consists cropped jackets, elaborate track pants, and sports bras is vibrant and 80’s inspired. Reebok has launched this line fresh off of another celebrity collaboration with Victoria Beckham. Beckham’s line includes a variety of pieces in the hues of orange, black and white. Unlike the sporty look of the Gigi Hadid line amplified by Hadid’s ‘athletic’ credibility as a former volleyball player, Victoria Beckham’s line seems to be distinctly more fashion-forward (and in her defence, Mel C was Sporty Spice).

There is a sense that the designer collaborations are blurring the definitions of Athleisure, and that the newer athleisure lines are starting to favour fashion over function. Ironically, that is the antithesis of the initial mandate of athleisure.

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Courtesy: Victoria Beckham x Reebok

Comfort x Athleisure

Perhaps this is the reason why Nike’s athleisure line is advertised not by sporting superstars or top models, but ordinary women. Their 2015 #BetterForIt social media campaign features everyday women in casual athletic wear. Their campaign reinforces one of the ultimate female fantasies – ’What if I can be as comfortable outside as I am at home?’. It cements the idea that athleisure is not only for the people who work out but for those who just wish to feel relaxed in all surroundings.

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Courtesy: Nike’s #BetterForIt ad campaign

How Do We Define Athleisure at Present?

It is safe to say that athleisure is not a definable trend anymore; it’s a lifestyle. When millennials flock to purchase casual athletic wear from a specific brand, they’re buying into that brand’s ideologies and mission. When they post about it on social media, it is because they want to be part of the brand’s community. Athleisure has evolved to the point where it no longer means one thing. The constant designer collaborations only reinforce the scope for innovation within this trend. So whether it’s fashion forward gym clothes or gym inspired fashion, make no mistake – athleisure is here to stay.

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