'ATHLEISURE' MAKES ITS WAY INTO WORLD OF STYLE

By Aleesha Harris for the Vancouver Sun
Released January 27, 2015 
See the original article here

Fitness is officially in fashion. But it’s not the act of working out that has the fashion world in a sweat — but rather the athletic clothing itself.

“Athletic inspired fashion has been a growing force for several seasons now,” Lisa Tant, Vice President of Exclusive Services at Holt Renfrew, says.

“High performance stretch fabrics, body-skimming silhouettes and design details that mimic sports gear are popular in fashion worn outside of the sports arena.”

The trend — which has taken on the moniker “athleisure” — sees sportswear items such as sneakers mixed with pretty dresses and yoga tights paired with luxurious cashmere knits, or precision-cut coats with athletic elements such as mesh cut-outs or neon accents.



While clothing elements have remained somewhat reserved in terms of mixing elements of fashion with fitness, designer footwear has pretty much stepped completely into the gym.

“This trend has exploded in designer footwear over the past few seasons,” Tant says.

“It was a confirmed hit after both Chanel and Dior showed models wearing sneakers in their couture shows this past July.”

In order to keep up with the footwear demand Lang suggests fashionistas find more ways to wear the trend by “constantly going online and looking up street style blogs.”

So who is to thank (or is it to blame?) for this decidedly dressed-down look? According to Tant, we can look to the streets for that answer. Street style influencers, to be exact.

“This is one of those trends that really took off with street style influencers and trendsetting athletes before catching fire with the design community,” she says.

Nikki Laing, assistant buyer for SHOEme.ca, agrees.

“Street style bloggers are a major inspiration for designers,” she says. “They have a unique way of mixing runway trends with their personal style, making it easy for the consumer to relate.

“Designers create the trend and the people bring it to life.”

But whether it’s the fashion bloggers and style aficionados fuelling the trend or the tried-and-true designers, the entire fashion world is joining the team.

“Alexander Wang, one of the brightest design lights in New York, has always worked athletic ideas into his designs as well,” Tant says.

“And menswear designers including Public School and Hood By Air are known for their streetwise athletic influences.”

And Karl Lagerfeld, with those tres chic trainers, of course.

So, what exactly is behind this trend — other than the world’s ever-increasing interest in pegging trends with a catchy, oft head-scratch-inducing name such as “athleisure” or “normcore”? If you ask Tant, it’s the very same motivator that is behind most big style movements: the shoppers themselves.

“Designers respond to what their customers want,” she says. “People are busy. They demand fashion and accessories that are comfortable and fit seamlessly into their lives.

“At Holt Renfrew, we can’t keep up with the demand for fashion-forward sneakers for both men and women.”

But it’s not all purveyors of high fashion that are sprinting along with this laid-back look. The athleisure trend is one that fits well with fitness-fuelled brands such as Lululemon, as well.

“We love seeing how our guests transition their outfits from studio to street,” Jill Chatwood, director of global trend and collaborations at Lululemon says.

“Seeing a guest wearing Lululemon running errands or out to coffee means that they’re living healthy, active and fun lives; we are supporting a full day in motion by creating functional and beautiful clothing.”

The trend of après-sport clothing that also earns street style points has become such a lucrative market that several retailers have launched their own specialty destinations for fans of fit fashion.

Luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter launched Net-a-Sporter, a destination for “luxury sportswear … for the ultimate fusion of fashion and function,” in July 2014, and unisex retailer Gap debuted GapFit, a line of sleek and sporty creations, last March.

“Activewear as street wear is more than a trend; it is a reflection of a lifestyle,” Mireille Gindrey, Vice president of design for GapFit and GapBody, explains.

“All of our pieces combine performance, functionality, and style, so (our customers) can wear GapFit while training, but also beyond the gym.”

Gindrey suggest shoppers opt for the studio woven pant, which features a relaxed-fit, layered with a tank and the brand’s bonded jacket for a solid streetstyle-meets-gym look.

So, is this the fashion trend that will finally give yoga pant-loving Vancouver the last laugh?

Former Vancouverite Tant thinks so.

“Vancouver has always been a jump ahead on the athleisure trend because it speaks so well to the pursuit of comfort,” she says.

“(They) will definitely get the last laugh, but they have to be aware ... (that) yoga pants belong in a yoga studio.”

While fitness-meets-fashion items are having a big moment in the style world, according to Tant, there are still a few key rules to keep in mind in order to ensure you look sporty chic rather than like an off-duty athlete.

“I think it’s important to wear one athletic-inspired piece per outfit,” Tant says.

She advises tossing a baseball jacket over a dress and heels for women, or donning sneakers with a slim-cut suit for men.

“If you pile on too many elements — even if they’re in upscale fabrics and textures — your look won’t score any points,” Tant says.

“So no wool drawstring trousers paired with a leather sweatshirt and sneakers and a backpack — it’s too much of a good thing!”

aharris@vancouversun.com
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Want to create your own athleisure style? We recommend one of these styles:

For the men:

The Saucony Men's Bullet sneaker in Black/Blue

For the women:

 

The Propet Women's Ricochet sneaker in Pale Yello.

 

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