Activewear and Athleisure: Product, Trends and Future

This is a guest submission from Indu Sharma.

These two categories refer to attire or clothes designed for the purpose of transitioning from exercise wear to casual wear.

Their rapid growth reflects the interest in a healthier lifestyle. The categories span high-tech, performance-enhancing fitness garments for professional athletes, apparel and workout gear for individuals and wearing, practical choices for those who enjoy the outdoor active lifestyle that just involves regular walking.
Activewear // Image source:

Brands and Retailer from Nike, Adidas, Lululemon, and Athleta to Designer Brands like Calvin Klein to Betsey Johnson are all designing with a purpose outfitting that active lifestyle with new fiber technologies and specialist fabrics. In short Product, Trends and Future in these categories are and will continue to be driven by technology in fabric and design.

It’s not clothing; it’s a lifestyle

It is Clothing You Don't Actually only Wear To Work Out.

So, whether or not you are a gym junkie, you are likely to dress like one if activewear and athleisure is your choice of apparel.

Activewear evolution reflects shifting the paradigm in popular fashion. And Athleisure aspect has taken the boring out and made workout clothing a statement of wealth, luxury and active lifestyle. It’s a category that’s most popular amongst fashion trendsetters willing to invest big bucks to stay ahead with premium design and innovation

So what’s driving the growth? First, the expectations for women's bodies have shifted significantly. From super-thin bodies of the 90’s, the focus now is on toned and fit bodies. More than ever people today want to look healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. Needless to say, the transformation of the social landscape has had a huge impact on this “looking good” category. From influencers to their followers, people are recording and posting pictures of themselves twenty-four-seven. So whether you are a person who exercises or not, perception is everything. When you wear clothing meant for working out, it makes you look attractive, feels healthy and fit, even if you aren't.

Till quite recently, your workout clothes were not fashionable enough to be worn post a workout session. But today sales of yoga pants are up and denim are down. Trendy workout clothes now are all day, every day cool quotient. We live in an age where activewear is not actually worn for sweaty workouts but as a fashion statement.

Decoding Fitness Fabric

Your workout clothes do more than make you look good: wearing the right material can also optimize your exercise routine. Smart and high-performance fabrics and interactive textiles are a growing market thanks to largely a fitness-oriented lifestyle.

Performance fabrics are engineered for a wide variety of uses where the performance, not style, of the fabric, is the major parameter offering an unrestricted range of moves, breathability, wicking and quick drying properties. These fabrics are commonly used for all activewear, clothing for outdoor activities and protective gear.

Some key fabrics used in activewear are:

Spandex: Also known by the brand name Lycra. It puts the stretch in workout wear and feels smooth on the skin, and is used in fitted garments.

Polyester: Commonly used in workout fabrics and one that you see on most labels. A plastic cloth, it’s durable, wrinkle-resistant, lightweight, breathable, and non-absorbent. It allows the moisture from your skin to evaporate instead of being drawn into the material. Polyester wicks faster than cotton and feels stretchy and smooth.

Nylon: This synthetic fabric is soft as silk, mildew resistant, and dries quickly. It’s also breathable and wicks sweat from your skin to the fabric’s surface, where it can evaporate. It is used for making the all kinds of clothing from Tops and Bottoms to women’s stockings, etc

Tencel: Similar to bamboo, TENCEL is made from wood pulp. TENCEL contains tiny fibrils, or small hairs, that give the fabric sweat-wicking properties and a luxurious texture. Textiles made from TENCEL are known to be softer than silk and cooler than linen. It’s is biodegradable, breathable, and wrinkle resistant and largely used in form-fitting items

Patented Performance Fabrics

Coolmax a technical fabric developed in 1986 by DuPont Textiles and Interiors (Invista) was originally designed to be worn under the uniforms of soldiers and other officers. The fabric employs specially-engineered polyester fibres to improve “breathability.” It’s a ‘wickaway’ fabric that draws moisture away from the skin in order to maintain the appropriate body temperature.

Supplex was created to offer consumers the feels and benefits of cotton without its shortcomings like creasing, shrinkage, and color fastness. It combines the traditional appeal of cotton with the performance benefits of modern fiber technology. Supplex is a fabric that feels like cotton but is breathable, holds its shape, dries fast, and is color fast.

X-Static is a silver-coated textile fiber that enhances products with permanent and nature anti-odor, anti-static and thermodynamic properties. Silver is antimicrobial that prevents bacterial and fungal growth. X-Static is permanent and resistant to washing and its performance does not diminish over time.

Performance Technology

Wicking and moisture transfer: a process of moving moisture away from the body to the surface of a fabric enabling it to dry faster. This can be achieved through the topical finish, fabric content or through the fabric construction.

Reflective: a technology where materials capable of reflecting light are used as a safety feature to helps protect the runner from traffic in low visibility conditions.

Thermo-regulation: a technology that helps regulate body temperature by keeping you warmer in cold weather and cooler in warm weather.

About the Author
Indu Sharma is the Director Production, Activewear, Delta Galil USA Inc. She has worked in all areas of the business ranging from merchandising to sales, operations with emphasis on product development, sourcing, and production. Over the years she has worked with prestigious brands in diverse fields.

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