The activewear industry has been coming out as the winner from year to year. According to a study called Future of Apparel released by NPD Group in mid 2018, activewear is responsible for 24% of total apparel industry sales. There is also significant rise in the global activewear market, with a study by Report Buyer concluding that activewear's compound annual growth rate is expected to be 6.8% and total sales reaching USD 567 billion by 2024.
In fact, during the Covid-19's reign of terror, athleisure seems to be the fashion choice of most people.
Some have argued that activewear is just a fad, and that denim is experiencing a resurgence, but so far, the activewear market has yet shown no sign of slowing down.
So how does athleisure come into play?
"Athleisure" is a portmanteau that combines "athletic" and "leisure" and it means exactly that: apparel that can be worn to gym, dance class, HIIT session, or yoga whilst being functional (and fashionable) enough to wear as casual clothes.
To our knowledge, the earliest record of this term being used for the first time was in the March 1979 issue of the now-defunct Nation's Business magazine. The magazine ran a cover story on the sports industry called "The Games People Play - and Pay to Watch" by Tony Velocci.
"The whole athleisure (a new term that has popped up) market is in a state of tremendous growth," says John Gehbauer, the (Sporting Goods Manufacturers Associations') director of advertising and promotion."
Four decades later and the activewear and athleisure markets are still going strong, with haute couture houses releasing their own polyester-spandex or nylon-spandex blend designs, whether on their own (such as Versace), or as a collaboration (Adidas by Stella McCartney). Celebrities, such as Kate Hudson, Beyoncé, and Kanye West, also recognize the potential the activewear market has.
Unlike stiff and restrictive denim, activewear (and athleisure by proxy) is comfortable and multifunctional. Countless of articles have been written on how to pair leggings with high heels and knee-high boots to make them work-ready. Backed by the booming of fitness industry, activewear and athleisure wear are gaining market and momentum. After all, who wants to squeeze into a pair of denim jeans after a sweaty workout?
Some have even argued that activewear and athleisure wear are the clothing of the future, at least in our science-fiction culture. Spandex blend has been the go-to fabric since superheroes started being depicted on film. Gersha Phillips, the costume designer of Star Trek: Discovery notes that she uses spandex depending on how she wants to shape the costume.
On a side note, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was so convinced that spandex was the true fabric of the future, that he insisted all of the costumes were made in spandex. This became a challenge because spandex retains odor, and if you're wearing the incorrect size, it can look so unflattering and cut circulations (if it's too small). So always remember to wash your spandex-blend items and wear the correct size.