Athleisure: The New Casual Wear

June 15, 2015  | By Ketner Group

When I came to college, my day-to-day fashion style definitely changed. I went from dressing ‘cute’ with cute tops, shoes and accessories to a more ‘simple’ style. In the summer (which stretches from March-October in Austin), I wear athletic shorts and an over-sized t-shirt leaving my body shape to the imagination, with some sort of non-fashionable sandals or tennis shoes. I’ll throw in the basic knit-top on occasion. In the short winter months, I jump into leggings, a long-sleeved, oversized t-shirt or sweatshirt; with a fleece jacket and tennis shoes, or maybe leather boots if I’m feeling extra-fancy.

You might assume I do this because I’m a college student who is probably not getting enough sleep and rolls out of bed five minutes before class, or because I work out a lot—both of which are true and sometimes the case.  But fashion choices across age groups and demographics are beginning to fit these descriptions more often than not, because that’s just simply how everyone dresses.

Just like any other fashion trend, you have to have the brand names are a must.

I know what you’re thinking, we’re all slobs and Austin is too casual. But there’s more to it than just that. Just like most fashion trend, brand names are basically imperative. Typically athletic shorts range from Nike, Lululemon Athletica and Under Armour. Those oversized t-shirts also have a well-known brand, believe it or not. Comfort Colors brand t-shirts offer a cozy touch and come in a broad range of colors that student organizations love to use. The unfashionable sandals are also household names: Birkenstocks have made a recent come back (because well, they’re so comfy), Rainbows are favorites and the most popular athletic show by far is Nike. Personally, I own a few pairs: one for actually working out, one for walking to class and one extra pair that I keep spick and span for weekend brunch outings. Leggings have to be Lululemon (they’re outrageously expensive), but once you try a pair, your life is changed. So, if you consider all of the thought that actually goes into our comfy clothes, it’s actually a fashion statement, rather than an anti-fashion statement. If you have the right look, you’re actually considered on- trend.

Originally I thought this was just a college student trend, but then I noticed how almost everyone was hopping on the comfort clothing bandwagon. I started reading articles analyzing athleisure, and came to the conclusion that it is actually a phenomenon.

Athleisure has actually boosted the economy,

According to an article in Forbes, retailers are realizing they can make a killing by selling activewear at elevated prices. This comes with no surprise because it’s no longer a college student fad; it’s a widespread fashion trend. In fact, research has shown that the increase in retail sales was “driven primarily by growth in sales of activewear, athletic performance footwear and bags.” Studies also show an overall increase in spending on clothing and footwear are driven by performance attire. In the article, Shannon Wilson, co-founder and creative director of Kit & Ace and former head designer for Lulumeon, said this “trend in activewear is just another indicator that people expecting more functionality and ease of wear from everyday attire. People want clothes that feel luxurious, but have performance attributes to support a fully contact lifestyle.”Simply put, society demands that fashion and function come together.

Even luxury fashion can’t get away from this trend.

“Athleisure has been around for decades, but it’s really hitting hard now,” said Chase Rose, the brains behind Athleisurely, a blog based in New York City. “Today, more and more luxury brands are designing athletic-inspired apparel – Vera Wang, Urban Outfitters, Cynthia Rowley and Stella McCartney to name a few.”

Athleisure celebrates and inspires not only a fashionable lifestyle, but also a healthy one.

“Shoppers will buy these products and become inspired to be more active, walk a few more blocks, spend a little bit more time out doors with their families,” said Jacqueline Renfrow, editor of Fierce Retail. “If a healthier, more natural lifestyle is in fact a growing trend that is here to stay, this could mean changes that will affect other sectors or retail, ranging of course from apparel and food to home appliances and furniture.”

Athleisure is a significant and widespread fashion trend that is stimulating growth in retail, redefining fashion and catalyzing a healthier American society. And that’s a lot to say for something that I once thought to be a college student trend.