Let’s Get Physical
Sported at hip cafés and fashion weeks, activewear is no longer reserved for the gym.
Sportswear has long influenced fashion but at the couture shows this past January, it claimed the highest honours when both Karl Lagerfeld and Raf Simons showed luxed-up trainers in the Chanel and Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer ’14 shows respectively. Made at the Massaro ateliers, the Chanel trainers in lace, tweed, and python reportedly took some 30 hours to make, per pair. Now, if Lagerfeld thinks trainers are worth spending that much time (and money) on, you know what you should be shopping for. If you haven’t already got yourself a pair of the much more affordable Nike Free Flyknits that were ubiquitous at the recent fashion weeks, just what are you waiting for?
But it’s not just shoes that are making headlines. While wearing yoga pants to lunch may once have elicited a remark like, “Are you really wearing that?”, accompanied by a killer eye roll, these days it seems appropriate and even fashionable to be seen in workout wear, whether or not you’ve actually come to lunch post-yoga. It’s almost a new take on the Juicy Couture velour-tracksuit trend from the early Naughties that saw everyone from Madonna to Paris Hilton wearing them from LAX to dinner in Beverly Hills – except today’s activewear is made from a variety of high-tech, sweat-wicking, quickdrying materials that even have scent control abilities.
Under Armour, an American activewear and casualwear company, is one of the few brands established in the late ’90s that’s seeing increasing revenues in recent years. Another is Lululemon Athletica, best known for its yogawear, so well loved that some have called its customers’ loyalty almost cult-like. Created in 1998, the same year as Lululemon, Sweaty Betty was the UK’s first fashionable activewear brand, founded by Tamara Hill-Norton who wanted to make women “look as beautiful in their workouts as they do day-to-day”. “Activewear is the bright spot in apparel right now because the consumer has decided to wear it whether she works out at the gym or not,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at New York-based market research firm NPD Group to WWD. “Retailers are going to start chasing this category big time, and I think stores are going to get into this and stay. The reason is, the consumer is creating the trend – it is not something designed and
merchandised in advance or shown in a showroom.”
Retailers have indeed caught onto the trend with brands such as Gap, H&M, and Topman launching sportswear lines. Both Tory Burch and Betsey Johnson are also jumping onto the bandwagon. If not launching their own sportswear lines, designers are teaming up with sportswear giants, as seen in the Nike + Riccardo Tisci collaboration. Adidas, however, has trumped Nike in this sector, with a long list of designer collaborators to boast of, including Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott, and Raf Simons, who will be launching another collection for Autumn/Winter ’14.
Adidas also recently announced new projects with Rita Ora and Mary Katrantzou, mere months after its collaboration with high-street favourite, Topshop. “Topshop and Adidas Originals working together is a total celebration of the greatness of fashion and sportswear, and how important and influential they are to each other,” said Kate Phelan, Topshop’s creative director. “We’re in a sportswear revolution at the moment; fashion is really driven by what’s happening in the sportswear world.”
“Many fashion designers take inspiration for their runway collections from sportswear, but I get to do the opposite,” said Stella McCartney, an Adidas collaborator since 2005, to
Sunday Independent’s Life magazine recently. “I’m learning about new sports all the time, such as aerial yoga, and am designing kits specifically for them.”
Providing high-performance sportswear for women, the Adidas by Stella McCartney range is perhaps when fashionable sportswear really started to develop. “Sports clothing for women, in particular sports performance, was such an ill-addressed subject,” she recalled. “The colours were very basic and there wasn’t much variation in design. I saw this as a real opportunity to put it right by offering women something they could work out in and still feel good about the way they look.” In line with her eco-friendly philosophy, sustainable materials are used in her Adidas range, together with innovations like the Adidas DryDye technology, which doesn’t use water to dye clothing. “We are still one of the only collaborations between fashion and sport that truly targets the high-performance arena and I am really proud of that. We haven’t veered off the dream to create stylish clothes and not sacrifice style for your sport,” shared McCartney, whose first ever Adidas by Stella McCartney store opened in Miami this past January.
So whether your sport is football or fashion, sportswear is having a serious fashion moment, but as people start to make a conscious choice to live healthier lifestyles, the activewear “trend” looks like it’s here to stay for longer than six months. Time to invest in a pair of yoga pants, or three.
Rita Ora for Adidas
Blogger Susie Lau takes on Paris in trainers At London Fashion Week At New York Fashion Week
Blogger Chiara Ferragni makes the sporty look her own
Kristen Stewart works Cannes in Chanel Haute Couture Michael Kors Pre- Fall ’14
A bright red suit paired with New Balance
Air Force 1 Hi shoes, Nike + Riccardo Tisci