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Sportswear can be luxurious, too

By Melanie Kruger on 31st August 2017

Sportswear may once have been reserved for the gym or the track, but in recent years, it has come of age. Nowadays, the fitness pack can be seen slouching around in their kit on a day to day basis – whether or not they are scheduled to work out. But recently, sports luxe has taken things one step further, with high fashion activewear garments flooding the fashion week runways and stores as a matter of course.

A trend that has been gathering pace for nearly a decade now, Sports Luxe shows no signs of disappearing from our fashion radars any time soon, and leading designers like Alexander Wang and Louis Vuitton continue to lead the way. Taking on a definitively luxurious air, it’s a trend as at home on the rich and famous as it is on your average gym bunny – in fact, it is arguably now more appropriate for the street or the office thanks to commonly high-end price tags.

Gone are the days when sportswear would look out of place with anything other than a pair of trainers, with everyone from teachers to television presenters vying for a piece of the action. Accessories are now more likely to take the form of an expensive watch or Celine’s chunky gold choker than a fitness tracker or a water bottle – and it’s a transition that has been welcomed by many.

Sportswear may once have been reserved for the gym or the track, but in recent years, it has come of age

Luxury brands, as you’d expect, have not missed a trick, and are rapidly jumping on the bandwagon to come up with creations that highlight technical innovation just as much as the active lifestyle. Niche brands are embracing the trend with innovative edges – from Moncler’s Grenoble line, to Aence and DYNE. Meanwhile, high end designers Chloe, Fendi and Hermes have all launched their own capsule collections specially designed for skiing and Crossfit. The range of luxury options available is growing by the day, and the pace at which it is doing so is astonishing.

Thanks to the introduction of luxurious and tactile fabrics such as velvet and silk, the athleisure trend now makes for the ultimate off duty look amongst the affluent – with more casual touches like polo collars, chunky elastic cuffs and athletic stripes juxtaposing perfectly with the sumptuous edge they provide.

Even more surprising, perhaps, is the variety of ages that have slowly but surely begun to warm to the trend – though it’s not hard to see why. When a well-cut pair of tracksuit bottoms suddenly becomes an acceptable choice of office attire, the lure of comfort is often enough to overcome even the longest held of preconceptions. From twenties to fifties, it’s an attractive option, whatever your age.

The biggest challenge for designers, of course, is to find a careful balance between aesthetics and performance. It’s no tall order, and is a crucial consideration in the battle for success. Traditional sportswear giants have got the recipe just right; Nike’s ‘Nikelab’ range – available from SVD NikeLab – has been hugely popular since its release, and collaborations with high profile designers like Stella McCartney have got the fashion world equally captivated.

Nike’s ‘Nikelab’ range is available from SVD NikeLab

The question on everybody’s lips is, just what is behind the meteoric rise of the athleisure trend?

The obvious answer is social media. It cannot go unnoticed that health and wellbeing have risen to prominence themselves in recent years, with more people going to the gym, choosing specialist diets and even meditating than ever before. And only are people increasingly engaging in such pursuits, but they are talking about them and sharing them, too. It only takes a quick scroll through Instagram to stumble across the evidence – and the size of the burgeoning fitness communities that can be found there are, frankly, quite astonishing.

For influencers who have built their reputation around the fitness lifestyle, maintaining this image on their feeds is of the utmost importance – and being able to merge their daily lives and their workouts by choosing versatile attire that looks as good as it is functional makes the athleisure trend a no brainer. Whilst it’s certainly not the only factor at play here, it’s influence is clear.

Of course, it’s not just about the fitness lifestyle; on the contrary. Many adoptors of the trend would be the first to admit that they rarely set foot inside a gym. Rather, it seems that we are slowly but surely moving away from the constraints of tradition – and in a world where anything goes, the same can now be said for fashion.

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