Despite its awful moniker, ‘athleisure’ is big business. The bleeding of what you’d wear to work out into how you dress on the street was spearheaded by brands like Alexander Wang and Cottweiler, but now actual athletic labels have adjusted their cuts to produce kit that works as well for legs day as your recovery brunch.
Just make sure you’ve got a change for each. The scent of sweat is never trending.
The British fitness phenomenon helped build the bodies of David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, so you know the brand’s recent foray into workout kit is based on an understanding of what best suits your training needs. Think super-soft cotton joggers and seamless T-shirts in Emana fabric, which improves thermoregulation for enhanced performance when you’re shifting metal.
But realising that there’s little point building a model’s physique if you’re going to hide it, the range is cut in physique-flattering silhouettes, from hoodies with nipped waists, to show off your V-shape, to tapered joggers that would sit as happily over a pair of Yohji Yamamoto-designed adidas trainers as your Ultra Boosts.
A key brand in athleisure’s rise, Lululemon found fame when yoga bunnies realised that their tops and leggings looked as good in the juice bar as in downward dog. While not ignoring the namaste-ready kit that made its name, Lululemon has since expanded its offering with a firm focus on the Y-chromosomed.
Its ranges are geared towards workout, post-workout and your downtime, all featuring the technical materials and construction techniques that make it such a hit on the mat. That means transferring the kind of sweat-wicking fabrics and comfortable lycra blends normally found in high-end sports kit into shirts, chinos and even blazers. Which makes it easier to for you to go straight from bike saddle to desk.
Every Second Counts
While we’d be loathe to advise you pick up a sleeveless, logo hoody – no matter how much you can curl – Every Second Count’s super-soft brush back cotton version is almost enough to make us reconsider. So long as you promise to sling a tee underneath.
But it’s an uncharacteristically bro moment from a brand that otherwise combines minimalist design with technical performance. So you get seamless construction, super-absorbent fabric and multi-directional stretch in everything from the training tops to cool-down tees, and a pair of cuffed joggers that will work as well paired with an oversized topcoat as a kettlebell.
The Japanese brand’s affordable pricing makes it your first stop for wardrobe staples, but Uniqlo’s dedication to textile research means its HEATTECH T-shirts – cut from a fabric just half a millimetre thick but that still traps your body heat – are perfect for dressing down your suit on winter mornings, and keeping you toasty on early morning laps of the park.
Equally impressive is the retailer’s AIRism fabric: a super-soft, sweat-wicking material that will keep you cool on the gym floor but also makes an ideal base layer under your office shirt in transitional weather. It prevents dampness when you misread the forecast, and helps you keep your cool when you head straight from commute to client pitch.
The German sports giant’s straddling of sports and style was athleisure before the term was coined, but until recently its fashion and function arms were kept separate. Led by its footwear, where athletic features like the Boost sole now appear on trainers you’d never wear in the gym, the line between sports- and streetwear has become increasingly blurred.
Ranges like Porsche Design Sport and its Gary Aspden-designed Spezial collaboration take cutting-edge fabric technology and craft it into fashion-forward down coats and luxury tracksuits. Although, for easy athleisure points, you still can’t beat a pair of adidas joggers thrown on with a crew neck and denim jacket.