Athleisure 101

History of Athleisure/Functional Wear 

Regardless of the fact that wearing sweatpants in public was a TV punchline in the ’90s, Athleisure continues to defy gravity. Sports bras, leggings, shorts, active tees, tank tops, and basically any sports or casual pieces that modified how people dress on a regular basis in this day and age, that’s what Functional Wear is all about.


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What is Athleisure? 

Athleisure, also known as functional wear or activewear, is a fashion trend that works best for people who are active or those who seek comfort with functionality. This trend has created another level of aesthetic and comfort for people who are on the go. It is basically athletic clothing which is also worn for other purposes such as social occasions, school or work, and everyday casual stuff.


The days of wearing different styles of clothing for various occasions or situations are almost gone. High fashion looks to streetwear for inspiration, and everyone—rich or poor—are starting to go for the same look nowadays.


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Athleisure goes way back 

Even though the term Athleisure is new, the trend goes way back. In the opinion of Deirdre Clemente, a fashion historian at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the story behind athleisure didn’t set about in the late 20th century with the birth of Lululemon, an athletic apparel retailer.




It began in the early 20th century when people started to have fewer working hours and more leisure or free time to be able to participate in sports, go to indoor gyms and whatnot. During this time, even though people were more restrictive and were used to wearing too many layers of clothing, there was a change in the design of people’s clothes and it developed to become more comfortable. Casual clothes became less private and limiting. 


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Moreover, the inception of modern Athleisure came about in the ’70s when the reign of fitness was recognized by the people, according to Medium. As a result of this popularity, a lot of people used casual clothing for workouts. Additionally, the impact of watching or playing sports are shaping the way people buy and wear clothes. A trend on fitness and healthy living has translated into more active lifestyles too, particularly among the younger generation.

These factors encouraged the improvisation of sports brands and companies on clothes fitting for athletic activities. There was also an enhancement in the production of these clothes after, innovations such as Lycra, spandex, nylon, and other synthetic-fiber materials that athletic apparel retailers use today.

Clothing divided the rich from the poor and men from women, but nowadays these barriers are being broken. At present, men and women wear a lot of the same things.


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According to the Journal of Consumer Research last 2013, employees of boutique shops in Milan were asked by researchers regarding which two certain types of customers—one wearing an elegant outfit and the other wearing gym clothes—would be able to spend more money.


The results showed that gym-wearing customers are most likely to buy the most expensive stuff and spend more in a boutique. In fact, some of the world’s richest people, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, are outfit repeaters and they dress like anyone you pass on the street. 

Furthermore, a 2019 Morgan Stanley Research stated that activewear has become a global apparel market worth over $300 billion which is basically almost a quarter of all the clothes people purchase because based on Statista the forecasted worth of the whole apparel market worldwide by 2020 is roughly $1.52 trillion.To boot, the US is the world’s biggest market for activewear and pretty much all of the best-selling shoes today in America are actually sneakers. However, Asia has the highest growth potential and could be the biggest contributor to athletic-wear sales growth by 2020.