Gym wear has been making its way out of the work-out zone and becoming an essential part of people’s wardrobe, be it any age group. Taking the sweatpants and gym tanks a notch higher, the athleisure trend is here to stay and we couldn’t ask for more. More power to comfortable clothing, we say! Ever dreamed that jogger pants, hoodies, sneakers, yoga pants or gym stingers would be the mainstays of any fashion trend?
“I am totally thrilled with the trend. I find athleisure one of the easiest and versatile trends to wear. Be it any age group, it is something that is extremely comfortable. It is good for travelling, for hanging out with friends or even for an evening out. It is something that will never go out of style. Recently it was also seen at the Oscars’ red carpet,” says celebrity designer Nandita Mahtani. She further adds, “The fun thing is that you can really mix and match quite a bit. You can match colours together. There is a lot you can do. You don’t need jewellery. It is very easy to wear the trend, from a 13-year-old to a 60-year-old, any age group can wear it.”
Not just ‘sports’ wear any more
The comfortable yet cool and effortless style is perfect for anyone who is interested in the urban street style as well as has an affinity for fitness and wellness. “Sportswear, as we see it today, is not just ‘sports’ wear. People are slowly starting to wear it as a regular daily clothing option. The comfort and freedom the clothing provides today is one of the foremost reasons for people to consider wearing it for their daily lifestyle,” says Shruti Chhapia, co-founder of Dive, an Indian athleisure brand for kids and adults. She further adds, “Today people are definitely investing in good quality and high-performance activewear whether it’s for leisure or for actual work out.”
Celebrities donning gym wear at public places and social events have brought athleisure into the mainstream. “Earlier, people just used to wear cotton T-shirts for workouts or runs because it was comfortable. But today you see a lot of people preferring high-performance clothing because it’s not just about comfort but how the apparel will enhance your movement,” says Rushabh Chhapia, co-founder of Dive.
Not just millennials
Functional and stylish, athleisure is one trend that won’t go out of fashion anytime soon. “Athleisure brands are surely eating into other categories of market share. Not only the American clothing retailers, but also the Indian ones are facing the heat from athleisure apparel. Today millennials are both health conscious and fashion forward.
These shoppers want something more stretchable than their skinny jeans, and the athleisure trend is the perfect answer to that. It provides comfort for easy movement and it complements the hectic multi-tasking lifestyle that one leads in today’s world. For all these reasons and more, there is no looking back for this comfort wear apparel not only in India but also on the global fashion circuit,” says Bhavya Chawla, Chief Stylist at Voonik.
Over the years, brands have been improving the quality by experimenting with new fibres making the comfort increasingly top notch. “To keep up with this megatrend, brands are offering more of a mix of functionality and fashion in their products to catch the attention of new consumers, which has been working out very well. In fact, from being a casual, sporty trend, it is also becoming a dressier trend. Music icon Celine Dion was seen sporting a sequinned suit in red and pink styled with a pair of red heels, Chanel bag, and oversized sunglasses,” points out Bhavya Chawla.
Today there is a huge transition of sportswear brands to lifestyle-focused labels, leading to the popularity of more streetwear styles. This is when brands like Gully comes in. Co-owned by Indian cricketer KL Rahul and often touted as the cult streetwear brand, Gully does not believe in face advertisement.
“We have our band of loyal followers who like and follow the brand even though we do not believe in face advertising. Gully is expressing what the youth feel,” says Arjavi Mawaha, co-owners of Gully. The brand has collaborated with two IPL teams – Kolkata Knight Riders and Hyderabad Deccan Chargers – for the season. Celebrities like Sonal Chauhan, Irfan Pathan, and Sunny Leone, are often seen wearing the brand. The brand soon plans to expand its presence to physical retail in a few months.
When athleisure meets nostalgia
Designer Nandita Mahtani has collaborated with Cartoon Network Enterprises’ for a collection called ‘The Cartoon Network Enterprises X Nandita Mahtani’. The collection draws inspiration from the iconic cartoon shows – Powerpuff Girls, Dexter, Courage – The Cowardly Dog, Samurai Jack, and Johnny Bravo.
The designer recently conducted a styling masterclass in Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla. Talking about the collection, Mahtani says, “It is more for adults for men and women, and includes fun and multi-purpose pieces such as bomber, zipper and denim jackets, and sweatshirts.”
Growth in sales
Athleisure as a category is heating up. “Increasing numbers of consumers across all ages are being drawn to athleisure apparel every passing year. Athletic apparel had been growing at 4.1 percent from 2008 to 2015 on an average, which meant that non-active wear sales saw a decline. On the other hand, while non-active wear sales declined as activewear sales grew in 2017, in 2018 the rise of activewear was not as huge as it had been. It rose by 2 percent to $48 billion (22 percent of total apparel sales).
The bigger picture, as per data, shows that the athleisure category has been growing at a rate faster than any other category. This is no longer a trend, it is now a lifestyle that is too comfortable for it to go away anytime soon. Based on the sales growth, a report by Morgan Stanley stated athleisure as a smart investment opportunity,” points out Bhavya Chawla.