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Athleisurewear: windbreaker and leggings

Athleisure, a type of hybrid clothing, is a fabricated style of clothing typically worn during athletic activities and in other settings, such as at the workplace, at school, or at other casual or social occasions.[1][2] Athleisure outfits can include yoga pants, tights, sneakers, leggings[3] and shorts,[4][5] that "look like athletic wear", characterized as "fashionable, dressed-up sweats and exercise clothing".[6][7] In recent years, it has become more acceptable to wear gym clothes all day, whether the wearer exercises that day or not.

Athleisure can be considered as a fashion industry movement, enabled by improved textile materials, which allow sportswear to be more versatile, comfortable, and fashionable.[8]


Adidas invented the concept by introducing Franz Beckenbauer tracksuits in 1967, which were the first commercially produced tracksuits. By the 1970s, the adidas tracksuits were ubiquitous in streetculture and in the 1980s grew in the underground culture due to Run D.M.C. music videos.[9] By some accounts, the athleisure trend in the 21st century grew out of women wearing yoga pants.[10] Another account suggests that the trend came about because people could wear them for multiple occasions without having to change, which meant greater convenience since people did not have to carry an extra gym outfit on the way to the office, for example.[3] A decade ago, denim workwear uniforms were more popular, but today, athleisure is increasingly popular in places such as public streets and fashion stores and fashion runways.[11] Sportswear that had been worn exclusively in gyms is now being worn elsewhere by young adults and fitness-conscious consumers and has been accompanied by a relaxation in dress codes. Its popularity may have stemmed from its ability to fill a gap in the market, when sportswear was once merely functional rather than stylish.[12] Due to innovations in textiles and technology, improvements have been made in functionality, such that garments and footwear have become more breathable, lightweight, and waterproof. The new garments are performance enhancing, in the sense that they allow wearers to carry out everyday activities easily.[13]

Evolution in the 2020s[edit]

By 2020, a so-called "next-gen athleisure" category had emerged, owing to increasing acceptance in the workplace and advances in fabric and production technology; for instance "yoga pants that will, whenever we return to the office, double as totally acceptable office pants."[14] The styles, colors, and fabrics of athleisure suggest a broader emphasis on fashion as opposed to functionality.[15]

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a continued increase in the popularity of athleisure wear. Some fashion brands that had previously made streetwear or suits pivoted to items like hoodies and jogging trousers, since many people were stuck at home and "wanted comfortable clothing that would still look stylish for virtual meetings".[16] In Canada, for example, as of 2019, "active" clothing made up about 25 per cent of the apparel that Canadians were buying, but in 2021 that number grew to more than one-third, and sales were growing twice as fast as other forms of clothing.[17]

A rack of jogger pants in a shopping mall store. The sign above them reads "Drape Jogger Pants: $199. Flattering drape in casual look". Next to them is a row of plaid pajama pants.
Joggers being sold as fancy pants, alongside plaid pajama pants, at a Uniqlo store in Hong Kong in 2021.
Athleisure clothing frequently uses accents of brightly-colored fabric against a dark background, as shown here with dark yoga pants.

Market size and trends[edit]

Reports in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in 2015 described the athleisure market as growing,[1] displacing typical workwear styles, and cutting in to sales of jeans,[18] with a market size in 2014 as US$35 billion, representing an 8% increase from the previous year.[6] According to one estimate, the athleisure market, including footwear, was US$270 billion in 2016, and was estimated to grow of 30% in the United States and Asia by the year 2020.[19][20] Furthermore, analysts at Morgan Stanley, believed that global sales could rise to over US$350 billion by 2020.[21] A more modest estimate from 2016 valued the global athleisure sector at over US$83 billion,[20] while the U.S. market reported a 16% increase to US$44 billion. The global market as of 2018, assessed by Allied Market Research, was noted as US$155 billion.[14]

In spite of this, there is an arising issue regarding market saturation, due to the continuous entry of traditional luxury, and mass merchant brands, tapping into this trend.[11] The athleisure market for casual athletic clothing, which took off a few years ago, also has become increasingly crowded with big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, as well as fast-fashion brands joining the fray, often at cheaper prices.[18] An analyst estimated that the athleisure market was not slowing down, with much competition and pressure on various retail outlets including sporting goods stores.[18] Therefore, the best performing brands have proven their ability to withstand the emerging competition, as they sell clothes and a lifestyle as a package.[22]



A woman wearing sports bra and boyshorts, which were conventionally women's sportswear, but are now also worn as casuals or athleisure by women in the US.

Global shifts toward a rise in health and fitness trends has led to growing interest and participation in sports among the public. Many have actively joined clubs and competitions in order to fully adopt the characteristics of this lifestyle. Consequently, sportswear brands can utilize this opportunity to improve and introduce better quality apparel, footwear, and gear. By presenting their devotion towards a lifestyle, it thus allows brands to garner customer loyalty.[23]

Athleisure has been promoted by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Rihanna.[24]

Materials and technology[edit]

New fibers enable greater odor reduction, sweat-wicking, stretchability to conform to the body's shape, breathability to allow air in and out, and protection from dirt.[24][25] Some clothing designs permit selected parts of the clothing to allow more breathability while other parts can have greater tension, perhaps as a way to aid posture.[26] A type of athleisure is sometimes called "technical wear" which describes clothes that are more suitable for wearing to the office while being comfortable.[24]


There have been concerns that materials used in athleisure may have negative consequences for the environment; these chemicals include dyes and solvents and polyfluorinated chemicals and petroleum which are used to make athleisure resistant to water and grease and stains.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elizabeth Holmes, May 5, 2015, The Wall Street Journal, "Athleisure: A Workout Look for Every Occasion". Video. Retrieved May 6, 2015, "...athletic-inspired, casual look..."
  2. ^ WOMEN'S FASHION BY NATALIE RIGG, SEPTEMBER 25, 2014, T Magazine, Athleisure-Appropriate Hair at Paco Rabanne, Retrieved May 6, 2015, "...clothes have a cool, sporty vibe, so..."
  3. ^ a b Sam Sanders, APRIL 08, 2015, NPR, For The Modern Man, The Sweatpant Moves Out Of The Gym, Retrieved May 6, 2015, "...growing trend called "athleisure."... sales of athleisure apparel were more than $35 billion last year..."
  4. ^ "I Hated Shorts Until Athleisure Became a Thing" - by
  5. ^ Play or relax: Jockey's new ad campaign for its Athleisure line promotes both styles
  6. ^ a b Natalie DiBlasio, December 29, 2014, USA Today, "Retailers rush to tap Millennial 'athleisure' market", Retrieved May 6, 2015, "...Sales for 'athleisure,' a new clothing category ... comfy-casual-athletic action....Millennial women are flocking to athleisure clothing — fashionable, dressed up sweats and exercise clothing—for their casual go-to clothing for both leisure and work. For many of the Millennials, jeans have dropped to a distant second for weekend wear..."
  7. ^ Devin Loring, March 25, 2015, USA Today, What's 'athleisure'? Find out in Spring Lake, Retrieved May 6, 2015, "... worn during non-athletic, leisurely activities...."
  8. ^ Aktar, Alev (2014-11-30). "Active or Idle, Everyone Is Wearing Gym Clothes Now". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  9. ^ Guzzetta, Marli (2019). "Athleisure Used to Be Just an Outfit. Here's How It Became a Lifestyle".
  10. ^ ADAM TSCHORN, February 11, 2015, Los Angeles Times, New York Fashion Week: For men, athleisure gains ground on workwear, Retrieved May 6, 2015, "....athleisure is on its way in, with the trend that started with luxe sweatpants a year ago..."
  11. ^ a b "From Workout to Workwear, Athleisure Works a New Angle - Sourcing Journal". Sourcing Journal. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  12. ^ Speculations, Great. "The Athleisure Trend Is Here To Stay". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  13. ^ Goodrum, Alison (2016-04-02). "The dress issue: introduction". Annals of Leisure Research. 19 (2): 145–161. doi:10.1080/11745398.2016.1169581. ISSN 1174-5398.
  14. ^ a b Tsapovsky, Flora (22 June 2020). "Once a WFH Staple, Athleisure Gets Down to Business". WIRED. Condé Nast.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Athleisure's Winners and Losers". The Business of Fashion. 2016-11-16. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  16. ^ "How fashion designers flipped to athleisure during Covid". BBC News. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2022-07-12.
  17. ^ Evans, Pete (Oct 11, 2021). "Sweatpants forever? Why the 'athleisure' fashion trend may outlast the pandemic". CBC News. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  18. ^ a b c Anne D'Innocenzio, Associated Press, September 6, 2014, USA Today, Jeans face uncertain future amid yoga wear rage, Retrieved May 6, 2015, "...Levi Strauss, which invented the first pair of blue jeans 141 years ago, is among jean makers that acknowledge their women's business has been hurt ..."
  19. ^ Milnes, H., March 22, 2016, Digiday, Designer sneakers and $200 leggings: How luxury stepped into the rise of athleisure, Retrieved May 30, 2016
  20. ^ a b "Trendstop | The Rise of Athleisure". Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  21. ^ Speculations, Great. "The Athleisure Trend Is Here To Stay". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  22. ^ "A Primer on Athleisure - Fung Global Retail & Technology". Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  23. ^ Fromm, Jeff. "The Lululemon Lifestyle: Millennials Seek More Than Just Comfort From Athleisure Wear". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  24. ^ a b c Chayka, K., Maxim, July 14, 2015, Technical Wear: The Better Athleisure, Retrieved May 30, 2016
  25. ^ Kapner, S. (May 7, 2015, May 7). The Wall Street Journal, Luxe Meets ‘Athleisure’ in Techie Cashmere, Retrieved May 30, 2016
  26. ^ Mann, L., August 3, 2015, Knitting Industry, Athleisure and the Future of Fashion, Retrieved May 30, 2016
  27. ^ Westervelt, Amy (2015-06-02). "Sweat it out: could your sportswear be toxic?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-22.