The Rise of Sportswear in Fashion
Guest post from Rebecca Pearson of ModelTypeFace
I’ve been watching, with great interest, the growing trend for women wearing sportswear in fashion over the past few years. It’s no surprise to me that, year on year, women are spending more on sportswear – according to this BBC article, sales totalled $15.1 billion in the US alone – 10% higher than the previous year.
So why are we now reaching for the leggings rather than our suffocating skinnies, and sneakers over skyscrapers? Are we all Waynetta Slobs now?
Well – no – clearly not. But that raises an interesting point: one of class. I remember a time when sportswear equalled Sporty Spice, Waynetta Slob and (I hate to use this derogatory word) ‘Chav’ culture. Wearing sportswear in the daytime was broadly seen as lazy; the preserve of people who wore sportswear to sit on the sofa. We changed into our sportswear at the gym, where many of us would don baggy T-shirts, ancient leggings that were no longer fit for purpose and the same trusty sports bra.
Now, however, the gym is another chance to parade the latest fashions. Stella McCartney for Adidas makes covetable items that cry out to be seen both at the gym and on celebrities, pictured in glossies ‘running errands’ in LA. Eley Kishimoto for Ellesse took sportswear into high fashion, and now the ‘Sports Luxe’ trend has trickled down into the high street.
It’s not just the desirability of sportswear clothes, but our attitudes to exercise that have changed. It is no longer something to be dutifully latched onto a busy day, three times a week. It is integrated into our lifestyles with apps and technology as wristbands count our steps & calorie intake, which is then reported to the world on our Twitter feeds. Health and fitness is a source of pride and achievement. If I see another photo of a smashed avocado or ‘gym mat selfie’ I might just cry into my poached eggs on sourdough – joke – but this nutritionally aware, good-fats-eating, exercise-loving way of life is growing. I think, if we’re honest, it can also be a bit of a status symbol at times. That’s why us models are always social media-ing our designer-clad workouts, and I’ve even seen models at castings wearing their full gym regalia.
I don’t think that, ten years ago, Vogue would have been featuring burgeoning yoga wear brand Manuka Life on their site – but we’re now the second biggest brand in the UK with plans to expand to America soon. There’s a reason for that: many of us have taken a good look at our reflections whilst Zumba-ing, and realised that sportswear is now often so cut well and made with quality materials that meld to our bodies in flattering ways. Sportswear now makes us look really great, so we buy more and, confident from liking our reflection, we wear it outside the gym more.
Manuka Life is a company run by women, being bought enthusiastically by women who are happy that there are gym clothes that feel great, look great and are practical when we’re moving through our Vinyasas. We’re not buying more sportswear because we’re becoming lazy, but to celebrate the fact that we’re taking time out of our schedules to dedicate to our own wellness. That makes us feel good, and in turn, makes us integrate this wellness into our every day life.
It’s a positive trend, and long may it continue.