When she traveled from California to Hope College, Clare Da Silva knew which wardrobe staples to pack for her upcoming semester. She grabbed her essentials: joggers, zip-ups, leggings— her athleisure.
“I wear athletic clothing five out of the seven days of the week,” Da Silva said. As a former athlete, she said, “It’s basically the greatest invention.”
Athleisure, defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as clothing suitable for both casual and athletic wear, is growing. The trend is not only found on college campuses but also in offices and on the street.
Da Silva said that when she’s getting ready for class, the style’s non-wrinkling fabrics ensure that she gets ready on time and looks polished. She also mentioned the importance of dressing well for class.
“It can be misconstrued when you come in sweatpants, like you don’t respect your teacher enough to be well presented,” she said, but there are options that look more presentable than cotton sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. “It can be sleek,” she said, pointing to her outfit.
Her go-to brands? Nike and Forever 21— the top two preferred clothing companies of fall 2015 based on their average incomes, according to CNBC.
The National Purchase Diary Group said that in 2014 $323 billion was spent on athleisure. The financial service corporation Morgan Stanley predicted that it will be a top apparel category globally in the second half of the decade, according to Forbes.
Certainly, the growth of the Internet has helped Americans understand that physical wellness is essential in maintaining good health. Thus, it seems natural for athleisure to gain popularity. However, its rise is misleading since people are actually not exercising more, they’re just wearing functional clothing, Deborah Weinswig of Forbes said.
And as people look to the web for guidance, they also listen to celebrities. Carrie Underwood founded Calia, the women’s athleisure line in 2015, and Kate Hudson created Fabletics with Just Fab in 2013.
High-fashion designers have brought athleisure to the runway, too. Paris Fashion Week showcased Rihanna’s Fenty X Puma Spring 2017 Collection on Sept. 29, which featured track pants and hoodies, according to Vogue.
Softball player Ashley Ables understands non-athletes’ attractions.
“I think a lot of people on campus are athletes, but you know, [even for] the non-athletes, sweatpants and yoga pants are a go-to,” Ables said. “Even if they’re not athletic clothes, comfortability is definitely huge.”
Hope junior Briana Bailey said that she also likes the style, even though she isn’t part of a college team.
“You can wear it and look very cute in it, but you can also do sports in it, or go running, or do anything that’s a little more physically active,” she said.
As a student-teacher, she has noticed this trend expanding at local middle and high schools.
“The majority of students are wearing joggers, or leggings, a lot of Lululemon. The quarter-zips are really popular,” Bailey said. “Jeans look a little more out of place than when we were in middle school or high school.”
Bustling Americans want answers like fast-food: quick and easy. Athleisure seems to be the cultural clothing solution.