It started with those awful people who like to go to the gym before work, and stumble into the office in a mismatched getup consisting part gym wear, part standard office attire. Someone realised that “Hey, that actually looks really cool” and so the look stuck. Easy as that.
Now, it doesn’t really matter if you play sports or not, if you’re fit as a fiddle or your hobbies involve sitting down for long periods of quasi-hibernation. In fact, the sports element is pretty much academic, but including it gives us the opportunity to make up completely new words – like ‘athleisure’ – that are really fun to say. Plus recent reports estimate that the athleisure market was worth around $35 billion last year and athletic apparel now makes up 17 per cent of the entire American clothing market. Not bad going.
As Hypebeast contributor Daniel Sandison puts it:
“Traditional ‘fashion people’ have long had a problem with sportswear and made sure it wasn’t taken seriously on a grand, global scale. In the past couple of decades however, what we wear – and ultimately what appears on catwalks – has started to be influenced more and more by pop and street culture, and less and less by elderly people behind big mahogany desks in Paris. Our heroes in music, sport and film all wear sportswear, so that’s how we want to look.”
Plus, you know, it’s dead comfy.
Still, it’s not all fun and games. It can be a minefield out there: one wrong choice can see your outfit laughed out of whatever trendy, forsaken saké bar you’ve found yourself in.
Here’s a breakdown of what you should and should not be doing when it comes to working casual sportswear into your wardrobe:
Far removed from the heavy jersey and towelling versions worn by your average Joe, we’re talking sweatshirts that were primarily made for hobby athletes. Lightweight fabric. Mesh panels. Breathable, everyday-wearable garment technologies that help world-class athletes shave milliseconds off their PB, help joggers regulate their body temperature, and can help you stay cool on a packed train to work.
Designed with moisture-wicking and ergonomics in mind, slim-cut sweatshirts in hi-tech materials can add an all-new dimension to an outfit. Fits tend to run extremely snug (you know, for the aerodynamics and stuff) but sporty sweatshirts will lend themselves well to being worn under a minimal overcoat in winter or even on its own once it eventually warms up again.
Something along the lines of Nike’s Dri-FIT crew neck fleece is perfect: cutting a slimming profile and offering an ice-cool aesthetic that will look perfect teamed with a sleek overcoat or nylon bomber jacket.
- Nike White Label Tf 1mm Crew
- T By Alexander Wang Classic Crew Neck Sweat
- Stone Island Garment Dyed Cotton Fleece Crew Sweat
- Lanvin Technical Sweatshirt
- Nike Tech Fleece Crew
- Nike Dri-fit Touch Fleece Sweatshirt Black
- Theory Connor T Tech-jersey Sweatshirt
- James Perse Loopback Supima Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
- Whistles Pocket Sweatshirt
These tend to come in two iterations: the everyday tapered jogger and the ‘I am ready to run a goddamn marathon’ slimline jogger. The difference might not seem extremely obvious, but it’s all in the material.
While you don’t have to go the whole nine and plump for what are essentially running tights, you’re gonna have to go tight. If you’re not comfortable with tight then you should probably stop reading now because we’re using emphatic italics for a reason.
Probably one stop removed from performance tights, the extreme tailored jogger is a key athleisure staple and – no lie – are extremely comfy. Sitting around in the office in them is like wearing, to quote Ned Flanders, “nothing at all”. For those brave souls with complete control over their boners, go-to sportswear brands like adidas (and its skinny jogger) can’t be overlooked and usually offer a great range of styles at very reasonable price points.
If you’d rather play it (reasonably) safe with some tapered joggers, try higher-end brands like Ronnie Fieg’s Kith NYC and the mesh joggers from French streetwear label Pigalle.
Oh, and they should always be dressed up, not down: try teaming a pair with a longline button-down shirt and loopback cotton sweatshirt or something similarly formal up top, not a football jersey – this ain’t PE, fellas.
- Pigalle Grosgrain-trim Mesh Jogging Bottoms
- Asos Skinny Fit Smart Joggers With Rib Cuff
- Topman Grey Marl Skinny Joggers
- Kith X John Elliott + Co Escobar Sweatpant Speckled Navy
- Nike Tech Fleece Pant 2.0
- Puma X Stampd Sweat Pant
- River Island Black Ankle Cuff Joggers
- Topman Coordinates Black Slub Smart Jogger
- Reiss Blinder Drawstring Joggers Grey
Forget the visions of fluro-glo detailed monstrosities in various bland shades of off-white and off-grey, brands have cottoned on to the fact that not only do people want a trainer they can run in, they also want to be able to wear it every day too.
Again, adidas and Nike have the game on lockdown, combining their decades of success in producing fit-for-purpose athleticwear with up-to-the-minute aesthetics. The brands’ trainers offer supreme comfort and performance, yet are cool enough to wear with a pair of slim, dark wool trousers without looking like you’ve lost your mind. What a time to be alive, eh?
If you wanted to go full hipster, you could opt for adidas’ collaboration with Rick Owens – staples for people who describe their look as ‘dark matter meets neo-futurism’ or whatever – but we’d suggest you keep it simple. The German sports giant’s Boost range is stunning all-round (even if most of the fanfare has been saved for Kanye’s own Boost shoe) and their Kanadia range is also well worth a look.
- Reebok Furylite Black Trainers
- Adidas Ultra Boost Silver Trainers
- Saucony Turquoise Suede Dxn Trainer Sneakers
- Athletic Propulsion Labs Techloom Pro Running Sneakers
- Greats The Pronto Suede And Mesh Sneakers
- Nike Running Free 5.0 Mesh Sneakers
- Asics Gel Saga Winter Trail
- Adidas X Rick Owens Runner
- Nike Free Hypervenom 2
Perfect for layering and athletic usage, turns out that track jackets are both extremely cool and really useful wardrobe items – who knew? (Besides anyone who’s ever run track or did sports more than twice a year.)
Coming in more cuts, styles and colours than you’ll know what to do with, your choices run the gamut from technical apparel fit for trekking a mountain in, to featherweight options typically reserved for warm-ups and light training.
The lighter stuff is our preference as it’ll probably get more wear – an ultra-thin nylon jacket used as a mid-layer is a look that’s on-point; try one over a polo shirt and under a parka.
Think Nike’s (who are getting a lot of props today) Windrunner series, legendary British label Fred Perry, throwback nineties brands like Ellesse and Fila, or high-end performance wear specialists such as Stone Island or Arc’teryx Veilance.
- Adidas Brion Track Top In Black
- Ellesse Re-issue Track Jacket
- Nike Windrunner Jacket
- Fred Perry Colour Block Track Jacket
- Adidas Nite Jogger Og Track Top
- Fila Venice 2 Track Top
- Topman Navy And Grey Cut And Sew Track Top
- Acne Studios Flaus Brushed-fleece Jacket
- Arcteryx Veilance Align Hooded Gore-tex Shell Jacket
Ah, yes. That old shopping centre scourge. Lightning rod for middle-class “chav” haters. Those tables have gone and done a huge 180.
That extra hood on your jacket can be vital for avoiding elemental intrusion (rain can really put you off your stride) and for making you feel like a boxer-in-training, but it’s also a great way to structure your layering, with a thin tech-material hoody nicely dovetailing with a hoodless jacket worn over the top.
Try something by New York sportswear brand John Elliott or Acne Studios, both have outstanding jersey offerings, while STAMPD has your back on the technical nylon hooded jacket front.
- Nike Tech Aw77 Grey Fleece
- Fred Perry Hoodie In Graphic Blue
- Puma Evolution Mesh Hoodie
- Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner
- Acne Studios Johna Hoody
- Stone Island Garment Dyed Zipped Cotton Fleece Hooded Sweat
- Reiss 1971 Copperfield Marl Hoodie Grey
- River Island Navy Merino Zip-up Hoodie
- John Elliott + Co Villain White Hooded Cotton Sweatshirt
With more and more of us being guilted into the gym, it makes sound economic sense that we’d start introducing more workout garb into our everyday attire. Luckily – when styled correctly – it also looks sharp.
Are you on board with athleisure? Or should performance sportswear be kept within the confines of the court?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.