This is the age of activewear.
You can wear yoga pants to the gym. You can wear yoga pants to work. You can dress yoga pants up for a restaurant. You can even wear yoga pants for… yoga!
Athleisure is the synthesis of fashion and fitness and their relationship continues to blossom. The UK market for activewear is expected to grow to surpass 8 billion over the next five years as athleisure continues to grow.
Research by Keynote found that the UK market value for sportswear increased by an annual rate of 9.5% in 2014, following growth of 8.7% in 2013 and 5.3% in 2012. Based on current growth rates, Keynote predicts the UK Sports market will soar by 35.6% before 2019 driven by annual rates of growth between 7% and 8%.
Athleisure was born into a world where it’s acceptable to wear gym clothes all day, as fitness and fashion have collided and sales of activewear are rocketing.
What do we want from our activewear?
73% of consumers who have adopted the athleisure trend of wearing active apparel for purposes other than exercise say comfort is the reason. With 9/10 of us wearing activewear outside of the gym, comfort is crucial.
Research has found the top factors we look for in our activewear are 77% comfort, followed by 69% prioritising fit, 65% focus on whether the clothing washes well, 64% rely on quality and 62% focus on the durability and endurance of the clothes.
Does your choice of activewear affect your performance?
In 2012, Northwestern researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky created the concept of "Enclothed cognition". Enclothed cognition proposes that the clothes we wear directly affect how we think and what we do. The word was created following a study in which Adam and Galinsky gathered volunteers and dressed them in either a lab coat, or general clothing. They were then given attention-related tasks to complete. Those wearing the lab coats proved significantly more successful.
“It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” Adam said. And he thinks the study’s results can be applied to many more fields, including activewear and fitness. “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”
The theory is that if you dress like an athlete, you’ll be more inclined towards physical fitness and with athleisure clothing bridging the gap between activewear and casual wear, you’ll be wearing your activewear more often—and by doing so, you might feel like going to the gym more often.
How to find the right activewear for your sport
If the clothes we wear affect how we perform, we need to make sure we are dressed for the occasion. Good quality activewear should be versatile for any event, but certain trends are better suited to different sports.
From Bikram to Ashtanga and Vinyasa, yoga is becoming increasingly popular for fitness and relaxation. Yoga clothes should include layering that will suit your flow. Loose bottoms and loose flowing yoga tops for women are great for ensuring freedom of movement and comfort, although a beginner may prefer to start with a tighter fit, allowing the instructor to fully see their form and adjust their technique should they fall out of alignment.
Should you opt for yoga pants, ensure the waistband moves with you during difficult poses and that the materials are thick enough to ensure they remain opaque as you bend over. As there is not lots of jumping, a lower support sports bra can be worn which allows more freedom for the chest movements required through deep breathing. Layering is suggested as whilst you may heat up mid flow, most sessions finish with relaxation techniques where warm clothing is required.
High intensity swimming requires a suit which can support and stabilise you in the water, along with quality, tight-fitting goggles and a swim cap. Speedo vice president of product and marketing, Jamie Cornforth, notes that the secret behind its best-performing swimsuits is increased compression panels and bust support.
Gym clothing can either be loose-fitting or tight-fitting to show off your muscles. A fitted technical gym t-shirt is perfect for this type of training, offering freedom of movement, sweat wicking fabrics and a silhouette-hugging fit. Women should opt for medium support sports bras which allow freedom of movement while ensuring coverage as they bend and move during lifts.
Weight lifting bottoms need to allow for full range of motion at the knees and so many opt for a short fit, however high quality leggings will add support and allow functional movement.
Activewear is very advanced when it comes to running and there are numerous technologies out there to help you have a more comfortable and performance-oriented run.
A good technical running t-shirt or running vest made from recycled materials will pull moisture away from your skin, keeping you from getting cold during winter whilst helping to cool your body when it's hot. Recycled materials are also super soft and naturally block odour, making them perfect for a tough run.
Natural materials like cotton absorb moisture such as sweat and hold on to it, which weighs you down and causes chafing, not so great for running. It's also a smart idea to avoid wearing 100% cotton socks; wearing running socks that are a synthetic blend will help prevent blisters.
For women, a sports bra is an essential piece of kit for a happy run, which should support the bust and minimise movement. Racer-back bras are best for running as they take the weight of your chest off your shoulders and allow a full range of motion as you power through your arms. Your bra should offer high support and fit like a second skin.
Technical tees are usually teamed with shorts or running tights, weather dependant. A good pair of running tights should offer to wick away sweat, keep your body at the right temperature, and help to aid blood circulation with compression. Tights with compression can improve your run as well as boost your recovery and help you fight fatigue. Should it be warm enough for shorts, opt for lined shorts to provide extra comfort, support and avoid chaffing.… Remember you need pockets for your keys and other essentials or you’ll be lugging around an extra bag.
Activewear Size Guide
|S||29"- 31"||36" - 37"|
|M||32"- 33"||38"- 40"|
|L||34"- 36"||41" - 43"|