Hot under the collar
"Fashion is embracing the ‘strong not skinny’ outlook and it is totally en vogue to style yourself as strong, capable and healthy."
Gone are the days when a trip to the gym meant wearing the oldest item in your wardrobe; something faded, torn, or past its expiration for public viewing. The rise of gym culture, well-being and a generation obsessed with social media means that activewear is no longer meant to purely gather sweat, but to deliver us effortlessly and stylishly from the gym to the rest of our social calendar. Athleisure is revolutionising the fashion industry, but how far can you really take gym wear on the Island of Jersey? Do you need to be a gym bunny to dress the part? Is activewear’s place in the gym or is it destined for greater things?
Every fashion blogger worth her Manolo's gave Katy Perry kudos as she partied away at Coachella in a pencil skirt and nothing more than a Nike sports bra. Had she been on a quick pre-festival run? Unlikely. But she was showcasing EXACTLY how to wear the athleisure trend to perfection. It’s evolution of fashion at its greatest, catering for all those that want to not only look good, but feel good in what they wear. It’s the flash of lycra under a blazer, the ‘squeeze and lift’ feel from compression leggings or the silver shorts so dazzling it’s unfair to confine them to your pilates class. It doesn't matter if you’ve exercised or not; these pieces were built to make you feel fabulous about yourself!
As a culture both obsessed with self-improvement and with little time to spare, athleisure appeals to the masses. Thought to be worth around a billion dollars, it’s the largest source of growth in fashion retail. It’s no longer lazy to wear yoga pants all day, nor is it reserved exclusively for mums doing the school run. Instead, fashion icons such as Victoria Beckham and Rihanna are being papped in their joggers sparking a craze for practical, stylish wear that will take you from the gym, to the office and then onto the dance floor. How many of us can confess to owning an item of Sweaty Betty or the cult Lululemon align pant? These brands have made luxury activewear their bread and butter combining technology with a design aesthetic that almost makes the need for exercise redundant.
A new uber health-conscious community has sparked a rise in upmarket gyms, Crossfit communities and specialist bootcamps, all with an expensive price tag. So it goes hand in hand that people will want to dress the part as well. Fashion is embracing the ‘strong not skinny’ outlook and it is totally en vogue to style yourself as strong, capable and healthy. Selfridges has opened a floor entitled the ‘Body Studio’ dedicated to athleisure, complete with changing room bum mirrors so you can really see the grip lycra has on us millennials. Harrods has also just launched its first collection of tailored gym wear featuring merino wool and micro waﬄe cotton. Suddenly you have exposure to technologies usually reserved for professional athletes, with little to no sweat.
Home to some of the most sport fanatical and outdoor loving people, Jersey is not one to be outdone in either the athletic department or the style stakes. Voisins has just launched its own athleisure department boasting brands such as Elle Sport, Calvin Klein and Acai. Carole Baguet, Head of Lingerie and Activewear for Voisins, said, “we now have a dedicated athleisure department offering a range of technical products suitable for activities from running to studio exercise, but which can also be worn on an everyday basis as leisurewear. We are seeing fashion elements creep into sports bras and crop tops with a wider range of colour and styles coming onto the market.” In Liberty Wharf Hapi is continually increasing and refreshing its stock of functional and fashionable fitness wear introducing international names to the Island such as French brand ‘Pullin', Swiss running label ‘On’ and the upcoming debut of Canadian ‘Lole’.
“So how do you transition the look from the gym to the streets? Is there a place in Jersey for the £1,000 trackie?”
Roulette Clothing believes so as they have seen almost every brand they buy offering an athleisure line this season, with the shop stocking options from Hugo Boss and Lyle & Scott. The key is to mix activewear with pieces in your daily wardrobe. It’s more Rita Ora than Mr Motivator so ditch the bum bag and opt for tailored jog pants with heels, embellished sports crop tops with jeans or ballet leggings under a shirt. Look for mesh panels, strong colour blocking and cut outs. Metallics are huge, with Nike just having released a rose gold collection and Beyonce’s sell out Ivy Park collection for Topshop showcasing silver in a combination of active and casual wear.
There really is little to find fault with in athleisure. Unusual for great fashion, this trend is all about comfort, working with your body as well as showcasing it. With workplaces in Jersey slowly relaxing their corporate attire policies, it’s a sure bet that athleisure will continue its domination over islanders’ wardrobes. So channel your inner Clark Kent and make sure to incorporate that spandex somewhere under your daily work attire. It’s bound to leave you feeling super stylish!