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The rise of luxury athleisure: Fusing style and comfort to make the ultimate statement, the trend that’s going nowhere fast

By Melanie Kruger on 11th July 2019

In 2019, a stylish selection of activewear is as essential to your wardrobe as that one-off pair of Manolos. Looking your best at the gym, as they say, is the key to feeling it, too; not only can the right kit enhance your performance and motivation, but it can quite easily boost your fashion credentials in the process. Thanks to the burgeoning trend for athleisure we’ve seen over the past few years, it has never been easier to achieve both, and with luxe fabrics fusing with designs that have comfort in mind, you no longer have to compromise on style in favour of practicality.

But these days, great activewear doesn’t stop at the gym, and with the trend for athleisure still fighting fit in 2019, this year it’s all about versatile gear that will see you through cocktails with friends or a barbecue with the family just as well as it will the squat rack.

Following a rapid rise to favour over the past few years, the athleisure sector is officially booming. A term thought to have first been coined back in the early 70s, its star now shines brighter than ever before, and with a rightful place at the forefront of the fashion industry, the style conscious and the rich and famous haven’t failed to take note.

In 2019, a stylish selection of activewear is as essential to your wardrobe as that one-off pair of Manolos

There’s no denying that consumer habits have shifted over the past decade. Gone are the days when fast food was de rigueur and exercise was considered passé, with healthy lifestyles now decidedly on trend and fitness and wellbeing considered to be utterly mainstream.

The rise of Instagram has played a central role in creating that change, with thousands of new ‘fitspo’ pages popping up daily and amassing hoards of followers within the week. Add to that the popularity of reality TV shows – from Love Island to Made in Chelsea – where honed physiques are a regular feature, and it’s little wonder that living the fitness lifestyle has become seen as aspirational.

Whilst you could certainly argue that this has been detrimental in some ways to the younger generations, one thing it has done is propel athleisure into the spotlight. These days, it’s this special brand of laid-back cool that celebrities opt to be seen in – and not just when they’re on the way home from the gym.

Nike reported a 15% rise in revenues thanks to the introduction of athleisure to its range. Image credit: MINICH_Sibas/Bigstock.com

Items that have always been functional have been given a distinctive makeover, with leading designers such as Alexander Wang and Louis Vuitton continuing to lead the way. Whilst key activewear pieces will still see you through a workout in style, they will also win you countless fashion points on the street. 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.

The athleisure trend lends itself to the art of accessorising, and these days you’re just as likely to see trainers and gym leggings teamed with an expensive watch or choker as you are a water bottle or fitness tracker. The introduction of tactile fabrics, such as velvet and silk, to fitness-wear has made the transition from gym to off-duty chic all the more seamless, adding an opulent and affluent feel to an otherwise dressed down look.

High end designers such as Chloe, Fendi and Hermes have all launched their own capsule collections specially designed for sports like skiing and Crossfit in recent years, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. The range of luxury options available is growing by the day, and at astonishing pace.

Back in 2014, Nike reported a 15% rise in revenues thanks to the introduction of athleisure to its range, and it wasn’t long before others caught on. Even more interestingly, perhaps, have been the arrival on the scene of new brands such as GymShark and LuLu Lemon, which have been aimed at the fashion conscious from inception, having cleverly tapped into this ever-growing trend.

The combination of athletic and leisure has become synonymous with everyday wear, and its star is showing no signs of fading

Other brands continue to jump on board, linking fitness and fashion more closely than ever before. The past two years have seen a flurry of high-end fitness brands clamouring for their share of the Instagram influencer limelight – and with such a great opportunity for highly targeted advertising and with such an enormous reach, it’s easy to see why this has fast been the preferred means of marketing.

So, what does the future hold for athleisure? It’s not going anywhere fast. Cool, functional, and all-out luxurious, it ticks too many boxes to be cast aside like a short-lived fad.

Although this market will undoubtedly shift in the future and trends will evolve over time, athleisure has just too much going for it. The combination of athletic and leisure has become synonymous with everyday wear, and its star is showing no signs of fading.