Athleisure: From school to gym, athletic wear dominates fashion scene

Romi Geller

Jeans are a thing of the past and leggings are of the present. With athletic wear coming in colors ranging from neon to polka dot and sizes celebrating all body types, more people are passing up on trying to squeeze into their skinny jeans. 

According to the “Global Active Wear Market Analysis” report, the athletic wear market is growing at 6.8 percent each year, expected to reach $567 billion by 2024. 

As the activewear market continues to grow, some choose to integrate workout clothes into their daily wardrobe while putting exercise on hold. Athleisure, a word coined to describe wearing athletic clothes for leisure activities, has changed when it is acceptable to wear athletic clothes.

Although the market is expanding rapidly, some athletes remain indifferent to their workout attire. Public health senior Nurin Salehuddin said although she feared others’ judgment of her stylistic choices, those worries passed as she’s gained more confidence in her athletic skills. 

“A lot of new people, they get conscious being at the gym surrounded by different people and are worried if they look okay,” Salehuddin said. “When the adrenaline kicks in, I forget about what I am wearing and don’t worry about what I look like.”

As people continue to discuss how athleisure fits into the realm of exercise attire, the trend’s popularity persists. Advertising junior Jess Hains said wearing athletic clothes allows her to focus less on her appearance and more on her performance.

“I feel like my best, purest, most confident self when I’m wearing what I’m comfortable in,” Hains said. “I perform better and feel better about myself when I have no makeup on and my clothes aren’t a huge part of my day. I love that activewear allows you to do that and still feel good about yourself and not look sloppy.”

In light of this growing trend, brands such as Outdoor Voices, Gymshark and Girlfriend Collective have been added to the market, giving consumers a plethora of options to choose from. 

Biochemistry sophomore Soha Dessouky, who exercises three to five times a week and wears exercise clothes daily, said her preference for athletic clothes derives from the strength and femininity that her clothes empower her to feel.

“In high school, I’d work out so I could feel good in a dress,” Dessouky said. “Now I feel more feminine in workout wear. If I had it my way, I would never wear a dress.”

Salehuddin, Dessouky and Hains agreed that while people’s exercise routines may vary, athletic wear remains popular. Athletic wear allows an individual to seamlessly transition between different activities without an outfit change, which remains an appealing benefit. 

“Even though people wear athletic clothes and are not necessarily going for a run, I feel like it encourages activity because you don’t have to go home and change,” Hains said. “There is a certain freedom that comes about with versatility.”